First Latin American `railway`

Trip Start Aug 07, 2008
1
57
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Trip End Dec 10, 2009


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Flag of Colombia  ,
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

One of the interesting sights near Cali (well, 2.5hrs away, for there are few within the city) is San Cipriano - well, its railway. Bear with me here, trains really ainīt my bag when back home either.

San Cipriano is a tiny village in the jungle, linked to Cordoba (where the bus goes to) by river and rail. There is obviously a railway, and there are freight trains between a few larger cities. The thing thatīs lacking is any form of local service...and thatīs where the locals have been somewhat ingenious...they made their own trains.

Theyīre basically an old crate with 4 metal wheels and a scooter bolted on, and a bench that is not bolted on. Sitting at the front, with you feet an inch above the track and your bench rocking, you feel a second from death (and probably are) - but it is a fun and unique ride through the rainforest. Well worth the effort. No picture or video could really do it justice.

Obviously there is no schedule, so itīs interesting when you meet another ītrainī on a blind corner...or the real train for the matter :-)

The village itself...well...you might as well be somewhere in Africa. Everyone is of African descent (unlike Medellin for example, where basically nobody is - unusual, as SanC is nowhere near the Caribbean), the main street is deep mud and the whole place is basically a hole. Everyone seemed to have nothing but time on their hands and appears to be involved in driving/building these trains.

There is jungle, there is a river on which we went tubing (with a useless guide - you donīt need a guide of any description there) and we had fish for lunch (sea fish of all things...wtf?). Worth a day trip for sure as i doubt thereīs anything else quiet like it.

Our bus ride back was interesting, well, scary. F1-esq driver overtaking on blind corners.

EDIT: On our last day we went for a wander around Cali with one of the girls and were heading back disappointed when we met one of the guys working at the hostel. He proceeded to drag us back to where weīd just come from...and way beyond...to show us that there was a nice side to Cali. And there IS. High viewpoints and parks on hillsides where locals hang out and drink, districts full of artisans and old buildings. Why didnīt we knows about them before. Because they were not in the Lonely Planet and if it isnīt in there then it probably isnīt worth visiting...right? BS. There is life beyond the LP!

So, we leave Cali happy we saw enough it regard it as OK. Thereīs a real case for throwing the LP away occasionally. And those occasions are increasingly frequent...
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