Running report: First day in Colombia

Today I arrived in Turbo, Colombia, and begun my running to Buenos Aires. The road from Turbo should run about 8000km and deliver me safely to Buenos Aires. There will be some awesome obstacles along the way including serious altitude in Colombia and Ecuador, huge ranges in weather and temperature and then the small matter of the Atacama Desert and crossing the Andes. What could possible go wrong?

Today’s adventure started with a two and a half hour boat ride from Capurgana to Turbo. I was advised to get to the harbour nice and early to secure a good seat but found out very quickly that arriving early had nothing to do with seat placement it was when you bought your ticket. However arriving early did allow me to purchase a nice Colombian breakfast of a fried fish empanada and a fried cheese stick washed down with a delicious sweet shot of coffee.

When the time came to board (a little after the scheduled time as usual!) I had to tackle getting a place for my stroller. I had already paid about $25 for my ticket and when they saw my stroller they proceeded to charge me another $15. If that wasn’t enough the baggage man then claimed an extra $8 to actually put the stroller on board. All very cheeky but at the end of the day I just wanted my stroller safely on mainland Colombia.

Despite hearing lots of horror stories about the trip over our journey was rather relaxed due to a relatively calm sea. The boat, which was a long boat that held about 30 people, first clung to the east coast before shooting over the water to Colombia. The scenery was stunning with beautiful forest coming all the way down to the shoreline and small settlement nestled in here and there. On the water surface plants floated and seemed to thrive. Small fishing boats darted around casting nets in hope of a good catch.

Turbo itself was a stark contrast to the calm water. The entrance to the wharf was lined with shanty style houses and big boats where crews evidently lived. Every form of garbage was floating in the black water and the stench was quite sweet and not in a good way. When our boat finally docked I rather exuberantly tried to jump from on bench to the other and managed to include a small slip and slide that say my newly acquired $3 sunglasses fall overboard before I had even managed to run in them. I am sure I could have grabbed them but something in my brain made me hesitate putting my hand into the dirty water below.

On the wharf side crowds of people were gathering to see what money they could make, be it carrying bags, giving directions and pick pocketing wouldn’t surprise me. They all looked rather bewildered and slightly annoyed when I told them I was self-sufficient and would be using my own feet to get myself out of Turbo.

After a quick pit stop to collect some snacks I was on my way. I will cover how being back on the road again felt but I think you can safely assume I loved it!

Luckily the road from Turbo was flat and I had set myself a nice 30km to ease back into running after being away for a whole month. It was great to be interacting with people again and at one point I even managed to collect a following of some cyclists.

I ended up in a town called Apartado and found a nice cheap hotel where I could get everything back in its proper places. After trip to the supermarket and some relaxing time I headed out for dinner and stumbled over a great little restaurant. As it usual in this part of the world they don’t have a menu just a choice – fish or beef. I opted for the beef menu which came in at a princely $2.80. For this you get a soup course which comprises of a watery stock with a bone (with some meat), potato and fresh lime to add. This was followed by a thin piece of delicious marinated beef with rice, salad and fried plantain. And to wash it down was a nice ice called glass of lemonade. If the food continues like this I will be a happy man!

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