6 am came very early - Jardin was still humming from New Years Eve. My only regret from last night is I didn't get to see a scarecrow blow up (although there was shrapnel along every road we traveled on today!).
We knew the first 45kms from Jardin to Riosucio was going to be tough. Every person we talked to in Jardin told us the road was bad, but we had prepared ourselves with the fact we would drive slowly and not take any risks.
3 hours later, we hit the pavement and arrived in Riosucio - the road was terrible, with large sharp rocks and washouts throughout. We averaged 15 Kms per hour, as Bob navigated steep climbs and big descents over the mountain pass. We saw 5 people, 2 motorcycles and one bus (how did a bus drive this road?), but not a single other car.
After this point, it was clear sailing . There were no trucks on the road today, so we managed to make great time otherwise. We also had our first significant stretch of 4 lane highway, so we were able to set the cruise control at 100 Kms and make up some lost time.
Right now we are in El Bordo, staying at a Hotel Campestre, which is a hotel in the country with s swimming pool where locals can come and swim, eat and drink.
El Bordo is about 5 hours from the Ecuador border - there is a large military presence here as this is the area that used to be heavily populated by anti-government guerillas. We still feel really safe, though - whenever we pass a military checkpoint every soldier gives each passing vehicle the thumbs up, which means all clear ahead. Today we actually saw a soldier who had an oversized foam thumbs up!
We hope to clear the border late in the morning tomorrow and say hello to Ecuador in the early afternoon...
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
- Mark Twain