The last 3 days since leaving Mompox have seen me on my bike, on a boat and on a bus…..and I finally reached the foot hills of the Cordillera Oriental which bring a slight relief in temperatures. My first day on the bike wasn’t an easy one with soaring hot temperatures and 74 km of what I’ve been told would be ‘camino de tierra’, dirt road, which becomes very muddy and impassable at times after heavy rain. As a pleasant surprise nearly all of the first half from Mompox was asphalted in very good condition and I made good progress, but as the heat of the day increased the road turned to dirt and in stages mud. I finally arrived in El Banco, tired and dehydrated. I also had to get used to carrying a lot more weight than on my last trip where I had back panniers only and was fully self sufficient. The front panniers make stirring a lot harder and when stopping the bike wants to fall over all the time. A lot to take in on the first day. I decided to take the boat the next day, a ‘chalupa’, down the Rio Magdalena. It brings me about 200km further south to Barranca and was a pleasant 8h trip (66.000P+10.000P for the bike). The massive Rio Magdalena is the main artery for many small communities in this very hard accessible territory. Both towns, El Banco and Barranca are noisy and busy without too much interest. The next day I took a bus up to Giron at about 960m, a small colonial village founded in 1631 and well preserved. It is located just before Bucaramanga, which is the main city of the province Santander. It is a slightly cooler climate up here and I’m looking forward to having a second start on my bike tomorrow. I also was very happy to see my first and many road bikers on the way up. I’ve been told the Colombians are very fond of road biking and well trained on their steep hills.