As you may remember from yesterday’s blog, it had taken us over 10 hours to complete a measly 160 miles due to the appalling condition of the roads; hardly much to shout about! As such, we were worried about taking significantly longer than this on the 250 mile drive to Medellin. To try and ensure that we at least arrived at a reasonable time, we reconvened for breakfast at 7am ready for an early start.
A quick breakfast later, we left the hotel and headed for the milk bottler where our car had been quietly suckling electricity from its electronic teat during the night. As always, the spectre of whether or not the car had been successfully charged, given our prior experience with dodgy circuit breakers, was hanging over our heads, but fortunately everything had gone successfully and the car was fully charged on our arrival. After saying our goodbyes, and with the sun already burning bright in the azure sky, we headed off towards Medellin!
Almost immediately one could notice a huge change in the road quality. Whereas just the day before we had experienced roads of a truly horrendous nature, today offered us miles and miles of mostly unblemished tarmac. While this is wonderful to drive on, especially in the SRZero, it is actually quite dangerous and sometimes a little nerve wracking. Why would this be the case? Well, the main reason is that one automatically increases the speed when the road is good because we always have a lot of distance to cover. The problem lies in the fact that you can absolutely guarantee that at some point on the road, there will be a random bump or pothole which could cause disaster if hit hard, so one is always paranoid that there may be one just round the corner. Contrast this with a really bad road, and there you are going a lot slower and you expect continually bad conditions, so it’s a lot less worrying.
Anyway, on with the day’s description. We were lucky not only with the roads, but also with the scenery. The first quarter was relatively flat, but before long the road started winding its way up into the mountains. The views continually improved as we got higher…I just wish we could have had time to jump out of the car on occasion and take a proper look! Huge valleys were split by wide rivers, and waterfalls by the side of the road was a constant feature. I would certainly say that it was one of the most beautiful drives we have ever done, even surpassing the legendary Highway 1 in California!
If the scenery was anything to be impressed by, so was the terrain. We kept on going up and up and up; the road just never seemed to peak anywhere until, after around 300km, we reached 2,500m above sea level. I will have to let the pictures do the talking, but each and every one of us was bowled over by the landscape. We noticed something pretty odd as well, the higher we went, the more like Europe it became! The vegetation turned very alpine, as did the climate which definitely turned cooler, and, believe it or not, so did the cows! Whereas in the lowlands you get the scrawny light brown cows, here we were seeing very Swiss-looking fatties of the white and black variety. They also looked very much more content than their lowland compatriots as they roamed the alpine-looking pastures. Even the light looked like it was autumn, and for a few brief moments we honestly felt like we were back home!
Another delightful feature of the day was the weather; aside from a very brief spell of rain, we remained completely dry which was a real pleasure. But other than these few observations, there’s nothing much more that could be said about the journey. The car performed perfectly despite the very steep inclines, and there was really nothing to worry the team as we pushed on south.
At the highest point on the road, we pulled over to meet Juan Fernando; a great guy from the EAFIT university in Medellin who had helped us a huge amount during our stay in Colombia, and who was accompanying us into Medellin. To make his effort worthwhile, we gave him a very fast ride down the mountain and into the city; something that he said he enjoyed very much! Our destination was the university here who had kindly offered to house our car and give it a socket to charge off.
Upon arriving and driving into their smart and clean workshop, we noticed a cousin of the SRZero; another electric car! This 4×4 EV has been built by the students here, and shows that even in less economically developed countries you have clever people working on the same problems as we are…it’s a great thing to know!
With the car on charge, we drove the short distance over to our hotel, dumped our bags there, and went out for a meal with a couple of students from the university that were kind enough to show us around. It was a really fantastic day, certainly one of the best on the trip so far! Despite the slow average speed; 250 miles in 9 hours, we were very happy with the progress. As a side note, the speed is not limited by the SRZero, but purely due to the fact that the roads are all single lanes, and if you are trying to overtake a big truck, you often have to wait a while before it’s safe to do so. On this front though, this is where having a police escort is invaluable because they go ahead, slow down the truck, and then signal when it’s safe to pass. This is very helpful indeed, and we certainly owe a debt of gratitude to Colombia’s National Police Force…thanks guys!