Shocked in Cali

We ended up staying in Cali one more night because the autopartes stores were closed on Sunday. The next day, we found the local classic VW parts place with no problem, but again found no front brake pads. They had the later-model bus brake pads, but nothing for a ’71. We attempted to explain why they wouldn’t work, but they insisted it was the correct part.

One of the customers in the shop overheard what was going on and told us to come by his shop. He’s a mechanic and was happy to have us visit.  It turns out that he didn’t have the correct pads after all, but it was nice to chat.

Throughout Colombia we have noticed that each city seems to have all it’s businesses divided into neighborhoods. If you want light bulbs, you go to one section of town. Furniture, another. Auto parts, another (crappier) part of town. This shop was actually outside of the parts area and in a residential section of town – very unusual – especially considering the decor. It was clear that he’s been here for a while and the rest of the city has grown around him. Possibly a normal occurrence for a classic VW shop.

Since we didn’t get much accomplished, we took off to find new rear shocks. We’ve gotten many email recommendations, but pickings here are slim and we were just happy to find something that fit. We ended up with Gabriel shocks. For the record, the receipt said they were for a Chevy Luv truck. And, they didn’t seem to care that Bode and I stayed in the car and played games while they put the car up on a lift.

Afterward, we finally got on the road and made the short drive to Popayan. It’s supposed to be a nice town, but we didn’t get a chance to see much other than the inside of the hostel.

The great thing about hostels is that you meet folks than can give you updated advice about where you are going. In this case, the Scottish owners gave us some good advice about where to go next. We were planning on heading toward the border, but decided the spend a few more days in Colombia, with at least 17 hours of off-road driving.

After dinner, Bode found a town square and joined in a game of futbol (soccer) with some other kids. Pretty soon, the teenagers were letting him ride their skateboards and helping him ride their trick bikes. The people are what I love most about this country.

3 thoughts on “Shocked in Cali

  • November 13, 2010 at 9:06 PM

    Keep up the great blog posts guys! Every time we read your website, it makes us wish we were back on the Pan American again.

    I just wanted to let you know that there is a hostel in Popayan called The HostelTrail. The hostel is ok, but what is really great is that they have a website that is basically a hostel directory for South America, with some really great finds on it.

    Also, I don’t know how pressing your vehicle repairs are, but if you can wait or are having trouble finding the right parts in Colombia, we were amazed at the abundance and low price of auto parts in Ecuador. The mechanic I had fix my broken leaf springs told me it is because they manufacture a lot of the parts there. To put it in perspective, for parts and labor, he charged me $20 US to fix the leaf spring. The same job in Chile a few months later cost me around $200 (don’t worry, it wasn’t the same leaf that broke in Ecuador).

    Travel safe, Dave and Kacey from

  • November 13, 2010 at 9:13 PM

    Sorry, one more tip- make sure you have plenty of gas when you cross the border into Ecuador. They have gas rationing in the few provinces close to the border because off the huge price difference between the two countries, and they are tired of the Colombians coming over, filling up, and heading back to Colombia. A lot of stations wouldn’t sell us any gas because of our foreign plates, and when we found one that would bend the rules, they only gave us $5 worth, but to be fair, thats all that the locals were allowed as well.

    Good luck!

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