Saldaña was the hottest place I have experienced I think outside of the Australian outback… I arrived from Villavieja, after 90km, around 1pm and unable to cycle any further in the debilitating heat. A cruise through town revealed it to be pretty much deserted apart from the few residents visible in the bars, huddled under lazily spinning fans with cold beers… I found a place to stay without too much problem but for some odd reason the inside and outside of the hotel had been painted dark green… not the best choice for reflecting sunlight and keeping things cool.. the interior walls were acting like huge radiators and the plumbing was such that the first 30 secs of water out of the (cold) tap was scalding hot…..
At dusk the town came to life, people emerged into the relative cool of a mere 34degs C at sundown… a brassband also emerged and set up across the street (next to the pet shop called Kitty Chow)… what the occasion was I have no idea but the noise they produced would not have put even a playgroup band to shame…. to describe the cacophony as discordant doesn’t even come close…. But as usual everyone was awfully nice to me so maybe I shouldn’t say such things…. but if I am being critical then I have to say by now the standard fare of rice, beans and a tough bit of overcooked meat for lunch and dinner was also starting to get a little monotonous…. The other thing that occurred to me particularly in Saldaña, though true of most Colombian towns, is why are there so many pharmacies…? How can a small town support ten pharmacies all within a block of the centre? Are the people that sick, or perhaps it’s a case of why the people are so healthy…? Is it those hot and humid evenings, with sleep off the agenda then maybe the locals are particularly randy and the pharmacies survive on condom sales… whatever… I have no idea….
Things got exciting that night, not because of the guy next door playing loud music ’till the small hours but rather because of the almighty thunderstorm that cracked the sky apart around 2am… I can only recall one storm that intense in Northern Sumatra a few years ago… it was sufficient to flood the streets to a decent depth, cut the power and flood the hotel… that will teach me to be untidy: all my gear strewn on the floor suffered a soaking while I lay (sweating), unaware of the floodwaters, in the island of my bed listening to the storm raging outside… it was only when I got up and found myself paddling to the bathroom that I realised what had happened….
It was still raining (and nice and cool for a change) as I left at 7am for the final flat stage along the valley before the climb to Bogota…