The Valledupar Chapter

Journal #4: My time in Valledupar

The Road to Valle

After a lovely few days riding along the Caribbean coast and camping along secluded beaches, I said farewell to the ocean, which I suspect I will not see again until Tumbes Peru, many months ahead.  For the first time since my trip was underway, I suddenly had a feeling a nervousness.  Now that I was getting off the beaten track, how safe was this?

Valledupar was a good two day ride from Palomino Beach, my last camp site, which gave me my first chance to guerrilla camp (camping at the first safe spot available once it gets too dark to ride).  At around sundown, I found a small gravel turnoff from the main highway, threw my tent up as quickly as I could, and was asleep by 8:30PM.  In the morning, I awoke before sun up, hearing horses trot by me along the empty road—cabelleros heading to the fields before the heat of the day.  I crawled out of my tent and nodded at them, and they reciprocated without a smile.

The region to the east of the Sierra Nevadas de Santa Marta is primarily a mining region.  The terrain was flat, though blessed with beautiful landscapes in the distance, and allowed me to make good time.  Still, the 140km journey I made to reach Valledupar the final day was a test for me, traveling alone, and loaded as I was with gear.  Bike lanes were good, and the traffic on this road was fairly light.  I ate well, for a price of $3 to $4 dollars per meal, which included soup, plantains, rice, beans, a thin slice of steak, and a small salad.  Zero complaints regarding cuisine.

I arrived in Valle around 8 in the evening exhausted, and to my dismay, the hostel where I’d planned to stay was not in the location stated by Google maps.  Too exhausted for a wild goose chase, I grabbed the first hotel I could find in the city.  I would locate the Provincia Hostel the following day, where I would check in, and stay far longer than I’d ever anticipated.

The Provincia Hostel and the City of Valledupar

The Provincia Hostel was a perfect resting spot for me over the next 2 weeks.  Unlike the hostels where I’d stayed along the coast where I was surrounded by backpackers coming and going, the Provincia Hostel, and Valledupar in general provided a laid back speed where everyone seemed genuinely interested in learning about you rather than what you were doing.

This fit perfectly with the events of my life.  After the release of the Savannah Newspaper Article, the early successes of our power generation devices, and the good fortune to find a trusted investor partner, Mike and I realized we had to push forward with this, full steam ahead.  We settled on a company name, contracted Roque Jean to design our logo, and began the process of incorporating.  My unwillingness to divert resources away from engineering also necessitated that I spend a number of days putting together legal documents for our company.

On top of this workload, I renewed my focus on colombia-information.  Having visited a few cities at this point, I was beginning to develop standards for how this website would be built.  I began training my associate Alex Trevino to help him gain familiarity with some of the technologies we were utilizing that were new to him.

As you can imagine, this led me to spend most days, morning till long after nightfall, working away on my laptop.  Christina the hostel owner, while being extremely respectful of my space and time, wanted me to get out and experience what Valledupar had to offer, and I am extremely grateful for the push she provided.  I spent 2 afternoons, swimming in the Rio Guatapuri, a beautiful river where locals come on all days of the week to swim and socialize, took a 25km bike ride (without gear!!  Its amazing what a change!!) to a nearby village called Guacoche along a traffic free road lined with monkey populated trees and local artisan women selling pottery, and was afforded the opportunity to visit El Turco Gil’s Academy of Music.

The meeting with El Turco Gil was incredible and inspiring to me.  I admit I knew almost nothing about the man before walking into his school, but as I began to put the pieces of his life and his story together, I became more and more humbled to be standing in front of him.  I could write for pages if I fall upon this subject now, and indeed, I should one day.  Until then, you can read a brief explanation here, or by visiting the school’s site at

Valledupar is an incredible city, and one which I would recommend whole heartedly to anyone traveling to Colombia.  Yes, there is plenty to do, but it is the people and the energy that make Valle amazing.

After a Trip to Nabusimake, I returned to Valledupar renewed and, inspired both by what was happening and by what lay ahead, I stayed on for another.  I met a wonderful young lady from Bogota who I’m sure you will read more about in coming journals, and continued pushing forward with Last Man and Colombia Information.  Finally, there was a moment of calm and I took advantage, setting off for Bucaramanga on a 5-day, 450km trip into the foothills of the Andes.  A bid all my new friends adieu, and set off on my next chapter.

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