Andreas and I moved from the hostel into the house of Claudia. We each took rooms for a much cheaper rate than a privado at the hostel. After a few days I was feeling much recovered from my sickness and decided to test my fitness in the mountains.
From Buga I rode up into the mountains towards Buenaventura on a 50 kilometer climb to Lago Calima. The road was very steep in places and it was mid-day and sunny and very hot. There were fine views looking back down into the Cauca River valley and then a climb through forest and then up near the clouds the climb began to level out and I could see down below the lake stretching out between the ranges.
The wind was blowing hard there in the mountains and Lake Calima is known as an excellent kite surfing destination because of the strong, unending winds. Riding past a string of roadside stands I followed a sign for the lake and turned off, the road dropping sharply, and quickly descended towards the lake. I ate an almuerzo on the balcony of a restaurant looking over the water. Then I turned back up the road to ascend what I just descended.
After this climb and another minor one, the return to Buga would be all downhill and I was looking forward to it. There were storms in the east near the city and the sky was black. I was riding with only my two small panniers and had of course neglected to bring my rain gear. I bombed the descent, gunning it hard, hoping to beat the storms, passing scooters and cars on the way down back into the river valley. Big drops of rain were falling as I rode the last 10 km towards Buga, crossing Ruta 25, lifting my bike over the metal dividers in the highway, and then riding up into the city to the central basilica I reached the house. I had beaten the rain. It was an out and back of over 100 km and I felt very good.
I rode to Buga. It was time to leave Cali. Andreas the Austrian, who I met in Cali, reported that Buga was wonderful. The city was clean and safe and small, and there was an American-German run hostel that made excellent bread and pizzas and brewed its own beer. There was a young Colombian ninja who operated a training center and gym in the city center and Andreas was training with him. There were two supermarkets that you could easily walk to and Buga was very beautiful because of the many churches. It was a city of miracles, the primary one being the appearance of an image of Christ on a shirt a woman was washing in the river.
I had intended to leave soon after Andreas told me about the wonders of Buga, but I was stricken with an intestinal ailment. It began with vomiting and terrific diarrhea. Then for three days I ate nothing, drank only water, suffered from gas and bloating and made frequent trips to the bathroom.
I left a few days after I gained control of my intestines though I was still very weak. Buga was 75 kilometers north on a flat stretch of Ruta 25 I had ridden quickly and easily last December, but it felt to me one of the more difficult rides I had done. If there had been any climbing at all I would not have been able to ride it. I stopped in Palmira for lunch, and then made three more stops to rest and hydrate. I was still very dehydrated from my illness. My knees and legs hurt and I arrived in Buga gutted.
I carried my loaded bike up the stairs of Buga Hostel and met Andreas. We were the only two staying at the hostel and it was good to see him again. The young American chef at the hostel served us the fine pizzas and we drank the good home-brewed beer. Andreas told me of a girl he had met who had two rooms she was looking to let out on a weekly basis. Tomorrow we would go to look at them. Tomorrow I would take a look around the town. I slept very well that night.