Colombia continues to provide alluring scenery for the cyclist. We entered coffee country where the hills are covered with the tropical shrub responsible for the bean like seed that feeds our need for caffeine.
Since arriving in Cartagena our coffee jones has been sated by tinto. Tinto is strong coffee, served in tiny plastic cups, that is so saturated with sugar that it usually leaves crystals at the bottom of the cup. It is not as strong as espresso but equally delicious. Thermoses full of the concoction seem ever-present at roadside stands and being touted by vendors wandering the streets.
We stopped for lunch after a long wet climb. We’ve been ordering bandejas (a meal of a soup, a plate consisting of a meat, some type of salad, plantain and usually either rice, lentils or beans and a fresh juice of some sort). The waiter went through about three choices of soup and I ordered the one I didn’t recognize.
My mondongo soup arrived. I took a look at the whitish meat in the soup and noticed it had structures like cilia. I had ordered offal soup. I first braved the broth, which was appetizing and moved on to the meat. It was a bit gummy, like squid, without the satisfying snap when chewed through. After eating a few pieces, I was done. Mondongo is not my favorite but I was happy I tried it. I prefer my mystery meat to be squeezed into a casing with spices and called sausage.
We were soaked from rain by the time we arrived at our WarmShowers host’s house. Humberto was not home but his cousin Caesar made us feel right at home. We spent the afternoon and evening hanging out on their open-air third floor, eating, listening to music and learning about the hiking and biking in the surrounding mountains.
New food, new friends and the gifts of Juan Valdez — a good end to another day on the road.