Cocaine Country At 18 Miles Per Hour

I am a genius in my own mind.

Starting the Andes in La Puerta Venezuela was my brilliant idea. I failed to understand, however, that the next logical step was to cross back into Colombia at the border town of Cucuta.

According to our new friend Susan at the British Embassy in Caracas, this lower border crossing is a “Red Hot Zone.” Apparently this is a major trafficking route. Cocaine is moved from Colombia to Maracaibo, Venezuela where it is loaded on boats and sent north to the USA. Oops.

Let’s be clear, it’s not that I would voluntarily drive smack dab through cocaine country, but we really had no choice at this point. We had to go south, so I did what I do best. I planned.  My plan was to drive as fast as possible through this “hot zone” and not stop until we reached San Gil. Good plan. Me like good plans.

Only one small problem. Fast does not exist in cocaine country. First, we vastly underestimated the terrain. The Andes mountains are frikin humongous. We spent most of the day crawling along at over 11,000 feet while avoiding mud slides and other crazy road obstacles. 

Believe it or not, my plan had other flaws. The difficult roads were punctuated with TWENTY ONE heavily armed military road blocks. That is just stupid. Attention leaders of the world, end the drug war, it isn’t working!

Legalize cocaine and outlaw Folgers Coffee! Seriously, it’s the right thing to do. Can I have your vote? Simko?

These variables made for our slowest day on record. We traveled a whopping 180 miles in 10 straight hours.  Sprinter Life has been reduced to 18 Miles Per Hour. 

My BRILLIANT idea to start in La Puerta had slid down the scale and was hovering just above QUESTIONABLE.

I prayed that it wouldn’t slide anymore. I could only say “Isn’t this great Love!” so many times before Stevie’s cold stare started to chisel away at my own denial.  

All we could do was sit back and enjoy the view. Here are some fantastic images we saw driving 18 miles per hour through the heart of cocaine country…

Jules: Pigs are filthy animals. I don’t eat filthy animals.
Vincent: Yeah but bacon tastes good. Pork chops taste good.
Jules: Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I’d never know ’cause I wouldn’t eat the filthy mother-fu**ers.

Bro, you’re sooo far from surf it’s scary. Nice wheels though…

Gas is smuggled from Venezuela into Colombia where it is sold at roadside stations like this. I asked the guy to clean our windshield but he either didn’t understand me or didn’t think I was funny. 

What does your 105 year old Grandmother do on a Wednesday afternoon? Does she cut grass by hand and then push it up hill in a shitty cart at 11,000 feet of altitude? Yeah, mine too. Mine too.

On day two we spotted a gorgeous valley and the mountain city of Bucaramanga. There was only one way onward, and that was straight through the center. Thank god for the GPS.

Yo, chic on the motocycle, my wife digs your heels…

I saw big mountains when I was in the Himalayas visiting in Nepal and Tibet, but I have never driven over such enormous mountain passes. On our 2nd day of driving through the Andes we covered about 90 miles in 8 hours. Good times.

After two long days of driving we finally made it to San Gil. We are out of the trafficking zone. I’m exhausted from driving so slow for so many hours.

We plan to lurk here for 3 or 4 days before pushing south to Bogota. I’m trying to track down some Colombian whitewater kayakers to go run some drops with. There are rivers everywhere and they look good to go.

Cada dia es mejor, cada dia estamos mejor – TREE

Track Sprinter Life’s exact GPS location! 

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  1. Anonymous says:

    really? is that a dead cows head?

  2. Alexander Roberts says:

    Did they give out free samples ?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I thought Folgers had cocaine in it. Does it not?

    Cant wait to hang with you in August……


  4. Hey Tree. You're a comic genius in my mind! Nice bonus pics of Nepal and Tibet too. Thanks for posting the links.

  5. Simko, your Folgers probably does. That explains a lot. nos vemos pronto

  6. John Wilson says:

    Ah yes – washed out roads, diarrhea, drug smuggling – all things that can be related to when traveling in Latin America.
    Laughing at your posts, enjoying your sharing of "inner" thoughts.
    Keep up the great humor that goes along with your "enjoyable" journey's.
    John D. Wilson

  7. Tree, what gps are you using? where did you get your maps for it? Looks like you two are having a great time. That part of South America is so beautiful

  8. Hey Aaron – Let me get the exact model for you. Check back here in a day. TREE

  9. Hey Aaron

    Would you send me an email to this address so I can get you the GPS info. I have map downloads for you as well…

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