Total so far: 9900 miles (15,932 km)

After my Venezuelan adventures, it was time to have a couple of weeks off the Penny and take in the sights and sounds of Bogota. What a lovely city, friendly people, nice beer, cute girls, great architecture, and some stunning museums and galleries. Feeling completely re-energized the legs roar their way out of town. It helps that there is a big declivity to fly down at this stage, much appreciated after all the climbing I have been doing. The loss of height does come with a small drawback as the Wheel rolls into the region of the Tatacoa desert. Sweating buckets it crosses my mind that there may have been a clue in the name and that I shouldn't really be surprised at the temperatures I'm now experiencing. The heat has to be suffered until the road starts to climb again after Neiva, and by the time Pitalito arrives, all is once again bearable on the temperature front. Here though my way changes as I'm heading up to the famous pre-Colombian archaeological site in San Augustin. Up on the side of a mountain lay hundreds of statues carved to represent gods and animals in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They date from the 1st to the 8th century and are a good reminder of the fragility of great civilizations. After a few days in town, I'm all statued out and ready to move on to the next challenge. Mocoa is the start of the famous Colombian "Death Road" or El Trampolin De La Muerte as the locals affectionately call it. Essentially you wind your way up around the edges of mountains on a single track rocky road, hoping not to fall thousands of feet down into the chasm below. The scenery is stunning, and the going extremely tough, as you have to cross a good few 10,000ft passes. This mini adventure takes me 6 exhausting days, and although I'm completely done in when I collapse into a hostel in Pasto, I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Now it's down to a few days ride to the border with Ecuador. My route rolls over more mountains, I am in the Andes after all but I was expecting it to be fairly uneventful. The road has many a way of surprising you, and for me, this came in the shape of a cow falling from the sky. The poor beast landed with a great thump right in front of me, stone dead. She must have fallen off the cliff that runs alongside the road and plummeted to her doom. I'm just grateful she didn't include me in her fate, though it would have made a splendid epitaph.

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