Hace mucho frio in Bogota!

Yes I’m back in Bogota. Arrived this morning from Manizales, at 6.00 am!!! The night bus. Quite comfy. Each seat had its own screen for movies and music. So no blaring movies onboard. Took my gravol. However, the motion of the up and down and round and round was felt and didn’t really allow for a great sleep.

What’s been up the past few days?! This may get lengthy.

I left Jardin at 6.25 am on Sunday (snore) and arrived to Manizales around 11.00 am. Again gravol was my friend! The drive through the countryside was truly stunning. Its very difficult to describe for you. Colombia has only one season, so its always green and lush. But depending on where you are the climate changes, as does the scenery. And the landscape varies, not drastically but it does change. Seeing the countryside has been my most favourite part.

The ride to Manizales was rather uneventful, with a few exceptions… have you ever been on a windy country road and been overtaken by a cyclist on the driver side in a curve???! Or been blasting along that same road and all of a sudden there is a group of cyclists stopped in the middle of your lane, taking a break thinking nothing of not being off to the side where it would be safe and a vehicle/cyclist would have less chance of slamming into them!!! About 3 hours out of Jardin, the original minibus I was on stops at the side of the road, the driver gets out opens the sliding door and yells something out that I couldn’t decipher. It turns out its my transfer point to another minibus to Manizales. So I grab my gear and hoof it across the small, but crazy, highway to get on the waiting minibus.

Manizales is a city built up on the hillsides. And although I disliked the cities I met, I didn’t mind it there. My cab ride was interesting. The driver was a small, toothless 70s hippy looking kind of stereotypical character. And the whole front dash of his taxi was a shrine to his religion. Pictures and statues of popes, saints, JC, Mary, Joseph, rosaries, crosses, faux fur trim of some sort around the rear view mirror, etc. Perhaps that was all necessary as his little taxi was gutless on the very steep inclines to the hostel. I should have taken a picture.

I met a Swiss gal staying at the hostel and we hung out for a day and a half. We covered alot of ground. We walked Santander and saw the sites there… Catedral Manizales (massive and too large for todays built up and cluttered area) and Iglesia de la Immaculada Concepcion, Plaza de Bolivar, Barrio chipre, los colonizadores monument (really cool), and magnificent views all around as we walked. We wanted to see the eco park los yarumos on Monday, but all the parks close on Mondays. We went to a small nearby town called Neira instead, it wasn’t much. To bad because a day trip to Salamina would have been much better. But the big assed church I mentioned, it was quite visible from the other side of the valley when travelling back from Neira. Interesting to, because Manizales is spread all over the hillsides, the view of rooftops gives the impression of layers of slums. That isn’t always the case though.

On Tuesday I hung out with a guy from Germany and we went to los yarumos… what a disappointment. A man there explained about a long and short hike around the park and we couldn’t find any signed trails or proper paths so we turned back. We did come across 3 teenage boys who were on the other side of the fence. Thankfully. The smaller one was very persistent in asking for money. I was quite thankful that Felix spoke Spanish, and there was a fence between us. Although 2 of the 3 managed to find a spot to jump the fence and find us later sitting in the public area enjoying the view. This time there were more people around. I’m also glad I didn’t go to this place by myself. I found out later Felix told them I was his mother! Following that we returned to the hostel to grab our swim suits and head to local natural thermal pools. The city bus took us there. I was concerned after a bit as we were coming to the edge of town in an industrial area, and then on the edge of that were the thermals! Quite a strange setting to say the least. It was okay. We weren’t in view of the industrial park once inside. Not something i’d do again. And certainly was overpriced in my mind considering. They even charged me extra for a towel! LOL. On the return we get to an intersection and its chaos. The driver of a bus coming toward us stops our driver and says something to him, and is pointing to the lower side of the driver side. I correctly surmise there is an issue with the tire. So the driver makes a uturn, backs into a lot of some sort, gets out walks around. He says nothing to the passengers. And then I hear what is a hydraulic thingy removing bolts, a little bump, bolts being tightened, and a drop… the Jack is removed! Driver gets in, wipes his hands on a towel, turns on the engine and away we go! I looked around and couldn’t see a proper tire shop. What I did see, and ive seen many of these in my bus travels here, is a shack with an odd assortment of used tires in it. That was all he did. Swap out one no good tire for another used tire. Who knows the condition of it. Priceless. I now understand more clearly why theres a lot of crossing of the chests here before boarding, and while travelling on buses!!!

I decided to leave Manizales on the night bus and return to Bogota. The people I met there had moved on so it felt like I should too.

I have 2 days in Bogota, and then I fly home. I’m looking forward to returning home for many reasons. And I’m also thinking about what Colombian destinations I’d like to see next trip.

Ciao. Buenos tardes.

I’ve figured a few things out tonight!

Its the rose festival this weekend in Jardin. The colourful tables and chairs in the plaza coincide with the colour of the cafe or restaurant surrounding the plaza. The long pipes coming from the roofs are for water drainage onto the street. Its raining again! The thunder and lightening is less dramatic, but the bucketing is torrential!!! No brave soul standing in the plaza getting a natural shower

I returned to Cafe Europa for a pizza and met several English speaking travellers. So I had dinner with them and a beer following in the plaza. They are staying at a hostel just outside town and came for the weekend. I may see them tomorrow. I met a man staying in the hotel from New Jersey. He is Colombian, visiting his ailing mother. He’s from Cali originally. His cousin owns the hotel. He shared a few shots of his Colombian rum with me… straight up, with a chaser of Canada Dry! Awful stuff. The rum that is.

Many horse riders parading along the streets tonight with horses prancing and clacking about. Its the middle aged version of kids driving around with boom boxes blaring!! Only its a horse. I prefer the horse myself.

Lots of policia and military in town. It’s the presidential election this weekend. Both Saturday and Sunday are ‘dry’days. Alcohol cannot be sold or bought. But wait, Colombians can stock up previous and drink their private stock.

Buenos noches.

Jardin

Jardin is very nice. Way up in the Andes, settled 151 years ago today, in fact. It seems to be more affluent here. The countryside is yet different but similar to other parts I’ve seen. Humid, cloud forests, coffee plantations, agriculture all over the mountainside. Jardin is less visited by foreigners and moreso by Colombians. Mostly from Medellin. Especially on weekends. So there is even less English spoken here than I’ve yet encountered. I’m managing to muddle my way through. I read about this place on tripadvisor when I was searching to get out of Medellin. Here is a helpful link I found http://discovercolombia.com/jardin-colombia-garden-of-eden/ and http://wikitravel.org/en/Jard%C3%ADn.

I’m staying in a hotel here. Hotel Valdivia Plaza. The rates are really inexpensive. 30000 for weekdays and 58000 for weekends per night. And they take VISA! My room is nice, tile bathroom which looks newly renovated. And TV. Of course its all Spanish dubbed or programming. On the weekends breakfast is included, yay! I’m right on the plaza so its central (like this place is so huge), which also means noisy. Being hearing impaired has its benefits. My first night wasn’t bad at all, see what the weekend brings… there was a parade this morning.

Its very festive here lots of colourfully painted homes and buildings, and tables and chairs in the plaza. Lots of people sitting out along the plaza and streets having coffee, ice cream, visiting. There are lots of motorbikes, no taxis, jeeps, bicycles (kids mostly), horses, hand pulled carts and moto-ratons (think India), chivas, and cars. By the way the cars in Colombia vary from Nissan, Kia, Toyota, jeeps, GMC, BMW, Mercedes, VW, etc. Plus there are car brands I’m not familiar with. And, as you can imagine the much older models are in various degrees of repair.

There is this ginormous church that overlooks the plaza. I mean HUGE. Its the most impressive I’ve seen in my Colombian travels. In fact there are 3 churches in town. Strange to me. The plaza church rings its bells regularly. I went in yesterday to look around and a service was taking place, with priests in confessional booths waiting to hear confessions.

The thunder and lightening starts at about 1.00ish PM. It is loud. I mean on your doorstep, earthmoving, china breaking, startling LOUD. If you’ve not been this close to the heavens, you have not experienced thunder like this. Then it just buckets. Then it clears up. And everyone returns to the plaza. Then it does so again in the evening. You can hear the cracking sky for quite some time first. And see the dark clouds coming. In fact its like in the movies when there is an active volcano nearby, its constantly talking. Quite amazing. People run out to the plaza to tip the chairs inward and wrap them up in plastic with the tables. Last night I saw this guy standing in front of the HUGE church in his shorts (regular boys shorts) no shirt or shoes in the pouring rain, arms outstretched to the sky. I wouldn’t have noticed him if he wasn’t under the light. The rain is heavier here it seems, almost like someone drained a bucket over you. This afternoon seems quite cooler after the PM rain.

There is a cafe here owned by a German expat. I sought him out yesterday to ask questions. He was quite friendly and informative. The pizza was great. He told me of some things to do, and said if I have poor Spanish it would be difficult to navigate any kind of tour in a moto-raton, or hike/horse adventure. Don’t I know it! I still like it here regardless. At lunch today a man had approached me to ask where I’m from. He is from Medellin. His English was nominal. He and his wife were friendly. I’m thinking this weekend will be busy here. Lots of people arriving.

I went for a very nice walk this morning around the town, and on a country road. Reinhardt said it would be safe to do so. Walk anywhere. It was very nice. I picked up a companion on the way back. A dog! It followed me all the way into town. They have a saying here, please don’t steal my dog, I cant afford to keep replacing them. However, its the dog that follows the person. Something else, dogs are all over in every place in Colombia. Most of them are strays. And none of them are neutered or spayed. The Colombians don’t believe it necessary.

Well thats all for now. If you are interested in learning about the busses in Colombia, read my reply to my sister under moving on.

Moving on!

I’m learning I really dislike the cities. I’ve decided to head to a place called Jardin. A small little village 3.5 hours, by bus, from Medellin.

Medellin is not quite as bad as Bogota, but I’m not feeling the love for this place either. I did take the metro to parque berrio and wandered a bit. A friendly English speaking man called to me, he had lived in the USA for 15 years, and asked where I was from and if I was travelling alone. He said to me, I love my country, but be careful.

I should say, the metro station I needed to take from where I’m staying is right next to the soccer stadium. Tonight is a match between 2 Colombian teams. It was mobbed there, jerseys, beer drinking, plastic horns, traffic, people… crazy town! I only connected all those dots once I returned to where I’m staying. Its on tv just now. Oh, and I left the chip to my camera in my tablet, so when I went to take pics… I couldn’t!

Will be in touch after I arrive to Jardin. Ciao.

Travelling has its stressors

Hola. My last day in Salento was Monday. I met up with some others and we did a tour of the Kasaguadua Natural Reserve kasaguaduanaturalreserve.org. It was amazing!

It’s about 1.5 km walk out of Salento, of which you get to see some pretty spectacular views of the countryside. The reserve was started several years ago by 2 guys, Carlos and Nicholas. They opened their doors for tours in December last year. Carlos gave an amazing tour. He and Nicholas are very ambitious and passionate about the reserve, its biodiversity and preserving and educating others on the area. If ever you come to Colombia, Salento is a must visit and so is this reserve. Understanding the natural of how the forest regenerates and protects itself was very cool. How the guadua (bamboo) grows and is used for structure was very cool. How the wax palms grow. And how the different ecosystems support one another. All without human intervention. They are also building a model of a geodome type house to see how the might cohabitate with the forest. Very cool. The tour was about 4 hours, and then we went to a neighbouring finca for lunch. It was awesome. I have pictures, just cant figure out how to transfer from my camera card to my tablet permanently, or insert here!

Tuesday was a travel day to Medellin. 7.50 am from Salento to Pereira, then to Medellin… 6.5 hours. Another crazy making ride on Colombian highways. And the up and down and round and round… my head is not too bad today. I traveled here with 3 people from Ireland. Me staying in a different hostel than them. To bad for me, they are very nice and fun to hang with.

Let me tell you about my ride to my hostel from the bus station. We met a guy on the medellin bus who was very helpful. He organized a discount for several of us for bus tickets. In medellin he organized taxis for us too. I get in my taxi as I’m staying in a different part of the city than the others. Again the crazy traffic scene where they make 3, 4, sometimes 5 lanes from 2! Motos, cars, cube style trucks, cyclists, its all here. Well the driver has no idea where the address is! Why he took the fare I have no idea. So here we are driving around in approximately the area of the hostel, but he cant find it. All the streets are one way and he has no idea. Every light he asks a taxi driver next to him, they explain, he cant find it. He asks other drivers, a policia man, a woman on the corner and so it goes. He even suggested, through hand signs I get out and walk! That was definitely not going to happen. You recall I’m not the best back seat rider, especially after 7-8 hours riding a bus through the Andes. Finally he finds the place. He wants me to pay full fare. So we go into the hostel and I find someone to help translate. I say he shouldn’t have taken me if he didn’t know where he was going, he says the meter says I have to pay, the person translating is telling me look its only x amount in USD its not much, I’m saying in my mind that is irrelevant as I’m in Colombia and paying COP. After several minutes of this I pay the man 10,000 cop, which is what the guy at the bus station said it shouldn’t be more than! Oi vey. What a stress schmoz that was. The taxi guy got 99% of the metered fare.

The hostel I booked into came recommended by another traveller. It sucked. No breakfast included. My bed was lumpy and full of springs, and everything was tile and open and I could hear people in the lobby 3 floors below. The sheets were thin as was the blanket and the street light shone in my eyes as I slept. And it wasn’t all that clean. Its located in a funky area, but! I should have booked with the Irish kids. So I’ve moved.

Now to figure out what to do here and how to get about. Its warmer in Medellin. Its not as large as Bogota, seems cleaner. The metro system is supposed to be very good. I’ll let you know.

Ive been doing loads of walking. Cant say I’ve acclimated to the altitude changes yet.

Thats all for now. Ciao.

Salento

Today is Sunday. I arrived in Salento on Friday afternoon. Its been a whirl wind few days.

Salento is a very small town in the heart of the coffee region. It is stunning here. The town is very touristy on the weekends for Colombians, and travellers. It reminds me of the gulf islands in many ways that it is touristy, artsy, and a hotbed for city dwellers to visit. Nonetheless, quaint, quiet, serene and in a lovely setting. The hostel I’m staying at is called plantation house. The owner is quite a character. Born British, raised in Australia. He lives here and owns this hostel and a non-certified organic coffee farm. There are daily tours to the coffee farm. I did one Saturday, it was very interesting. He does everything very traditionally, and organically. There is the option to ‘volunteer’ in the mornings to get an idea of what is done. Right now it is picking season. I may give this a try. The owner has some very interesting plans for his farm.

When I arrived I met a couple of girls who were sharing my dorm. They were great with information of what to do, and see in Salento. And where to eat. I also met a couple of girls at the coffee tour and we hung out on Saturday, touring the town, lunch, dinner, and played Tejo last night. A national game. You throw specifically shaped rocks at triangle shaped paper prices that have gun powder in the middle. http://www.colombia.travel/en/official-bloggers/entry/mike-ceaser/how-to-play-tejo. I hit it 3 times and was very proud. With beer and 5 others it was quite fun.

Today Hanna and I headed to Cocora located in PNN Los Nevados. You can do several hikes here. We chose the shorter one, but then couldn’t really figure out the path, so we meandered around for a short time. It is lovely there. I think I will go again and do it proper now that I’m clearer on directions. Things there aren’t to well signed. Very tall beautiful wax palms lovely views of the valley when you get to the top. The ride there is in jeeps called ‘willys’, very cool. Cram a bunch of people in an some stand on the back hanging onto the roof rack. Quite an experience. I was told to stand, at first I was like WTF, but it was the best ride and view. I needed a camera mount so I take photos. Read here http://seecolombia.travel/blog/2011/03/the-coffee-triangles-big-helper-willys/. And again I’ve burnt like a lobster.

A lot of travellers have left my hostel and a few new ones arriving. I was in my dorm alone last night and likely tonight too. The nights are cool here. There are many Colombians in Salento today. Cocora and Salento are very busy. There is a restaurant here known for it’s peanut butter brownies, called Brunch. Very good food. He’s an expat from Oregon. Very nice man. Very good brownies.

A few of the Colombians I’ve met here have lived or been educated in the states. I met one guy who was taken into gorilla army and escaped – he now works with families affected by the guerrillas in some way. He also guides in the mountains here in the salento area, medellin, etc. Nice guy. Surprisingly a number of Colombians speak English… in varying degrees. Today on our hike we met several families and they were very excited to see us and we had many pictures taken with them. Lovely lovely people here.

I’m not sure my next steps after Salento… I met a guy who arrived from medellin yesterday and he described a great experience. I need to get more info from him. He volunteered half days with very poor kids teaching them English, and like me he has no Spanish. You pay 75,000 cop and you can volunteer for as long as you like. 1 day to 6 months, the allowable time to stay in Colombia.

I’m certain I’ve left a few things out, and when remembered will note them. For now that’s all I got!

To my family, I love you and am safe.

Ciao. C.

I packed my gravol in my checked bag

So on Wednesday I decided to take a day bus to Pereira. It would be a nice way to see the countryside. A great idea. I get a taxi to the station, buy my ticket and wait. The bus arrives, I get my baggage tag put my pack underneath get to my seat. There are 2 drivers, the assisting driver walks down the aisle handing out little plastic bags. I look at him questioningly, he mimics vomiting! I laugh and think nothing of it. Then a bolivinario bus company employee gets on and videos each passenger. I had heard about this.

My journey starts. Firstly, it was almost an hour and a half to get out of Bogota! You already are familiar with that traffic scene.

The countryside is gorgeous. Green, lush, interesting vegetation, and the mountains are stunning. Not like home, green vegetation up to peaks that drop, think of very sharp cone shapes. It’s quite amazing. Herein lies the travel by bus dilemma…

Once we were out of the major, major, traffic it seemed quite normal highway traffic. And then… we got into the thick of it. The Andes. Windy, twisty, curvy, narrow, up and down, cliff dropping edges on one side and cliff hugging on the other. The views were spectacular. My head began to swim, my stomach disagree with the ‘great idea’ of taking the bus, as I reminded myself where I put my wee bag! Breathe, breathe, yoga breathe. And all I could get was exhaust, diesel, and humidity. You see there are no trains that service alternate options for transport in Colombia. Its all truck transport. So again, bumper to bumper with other vehicles at 30 to 80ish kms/h. Constant, non stop, with the up and down and round and round. I’m no sailor but I’m sure this trip would knock the sails out of a few. Oh, and movies are playing… loudly, dubbed in spanish. Playing was a Jason Statham flick, real steel, escape plan and 12 years a slave. The last hour of the trip was quiet and heaven. I could focus on my breathing. Way over stimulated.

Just past Armenia was a police check. They do these periodically and check bags onboard and foreign passports. It happened to be my lucky day! I get off the bus, remove my pack from below and open it. The guy speaks a little English, welcomes me to Colombia, asks where I’m from, digs through my bag. My baggy of vitamins are there, labeled of course, so I explain what they are. He looks a little closer at them. Helps me to close up my bag, smiles and away I go onto the bus.

I arrived to my destination before 11 PM. Almost 9 1/2 hours. I didn’t puke tho! I got to alejandra’s shortly after by taxi. That was weird being let out at night on a street, in a city and neighbourhood I don’t know anything about. And unlit, but for the entrance way, where the doorman is waiting for me to come through. He was expecting me.

Alejandra is very nice. She is a city planning lawyer in Pereira. She is making application to USA schools to do her PhD in urban planning in 2015. She speaks English. And has been very accommodating.

I woke up this morning feeling woozy still from my trip. Alejandra took me to a place she eats, I treated, it was amazing. Rice with veg and some chicken, and cream of mushroom soup. Its somebody’s home and they serve much like a restaurant. One item only for lunch. Muy bien!

I arrived to the botanical gardens today at 1.30 and was still feeling the affects of motion sickness. The cab ride stirred up my equilibrium again. I had a tour with an English speaking uni student at the botanical gardens. While waiting I was enjoying the sun and drafting this post. Its quiet here except for the birds and workers and students. Everyone I’ve met so far has been very friendly and helpful. The tour was excellent. Amazing to have 12,7 hectares of land in the city like that with plants and animals indigenous to Colombia. I quite enjoyed that. Oh, and did I mention we had an armed security guard follow us??? The whole time. Yes. Unnerving to say the least.

Which reminds me… did I tell you about the armed guard I saw on the bike tour in Bogota? It was when we stopped at the market. There was brink truck at the atm. This dude had a pump action shot gun. It looked state of the art lethal. And shiny too. I thought better than to take a picture. He looked like he was pissed off enough for reason to shoot.

On that note, on the trip to Pereira I saw an armed police vehicle going the other direction, that looked like something out of Running Man! Seriously, it was black… like this
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5b/Tanqueta.jpg. Alejandra told me today teachers are on strike. As well the farmers have been striking to. I also learned that the police and military are being trained in human rights. Something they know little about, and I’m told Colombia itself has not done well. Respect human rights.

Tomorrow I’m going to head to Salento. I hope to spend a few days there. Although its only 40 minutes from Pereira, I’m told its cold. Then I’m not so sure what is to follow. Ive got to figure out why my visa is not working – at the bus station in Bogota it was declined, and I used it just prior at checkout!

I think that’s it for today. Ciao. Buenos noches.

Zipaqueria

I started out a little later than expected today. I was on the transmilenio by 10.45 am and arrived at Porte Norte by 11.30 am. That was an experience. Crowded. Jam packed. Crazy speeds. Neck breaking stops! A fellow offered to hold my bag as I stood, I kindly declined. They do that here… the sitters take bags for the standers on their laps. Interesting.

Porte Norte, transferred to another bus. OMFG! you have no idea! Break neck speed. Weaving in and out. Navigating motorbikes, cars, big trucks, busses… tailgating, braking, honking, changing lanes, holy crap there’s a car stopped in the lane!!!! Pull to left real quick, left lane again… that car ahead is to slow, back in behind the truck… all I could do is laugh. Or throw up! I’m not the best car traveller if I’m not in the front. Holy smokes people are waving the bus down, come to a screeching halt but before even stopping the doors fly open and the assistant jumps out (remember neck breaking speeds and stops). Calling out in Spanish to others to take this bus, I presume. Gets back on and away we go, go, go. Sometimes the door closes, sometimes not. It was way more intense thean the time my family and I were in Cabos San Lucas! Insane. Absolutely.

The salt cathedral was very interesting. Its still being mined, and services are held regularly. I did meet an American mother and 2 daughters on the ‘crazy’ bus. So we hung out for the day. It was nice to have company. They are from Portland, Oregon. The eldest daughter has been travelling 8 months! Oi.

The ride home was as interesting, of course it was rush hour getting out of Zipaqueria. Worse than home. Imagine. Trucks, buses, cars, motorbikes bumper to bumper, not kidding, and vehicles from all feeder arteries wanting to get on the highway… it’s a cartoon to behold. Like ants nose to arse, marching onward. It just seems to work. Diesel, manure, garbage… it’s all there.

The day was great tho. The sun was nice, the countryside beautiful. Lots of farms, acreages, some pretty big houses, some real shacks. Zipaqueria was quieter, smaller. Quaint. Hitting Bogota was depressing! Really this city has so many extreme contrasts. If I lived here I wouldn’t know where to start. It needs a really good cleaning!

I’m trying to book a flight to Pereira. I also made contact with a gal there thru couch surf. I hope to fly out Wednesday. VivaColumbia airline. Cheap. We will see.

Now to shower and sleep. Buenos noches.

Cycling is hard!

Oww. I rode a bike today for 4 1/2 hours today… my butt is hating me. In fact my body below the waist is screaming ‘give me a hot bath’! I did a excellent bike tour today, Nicholas was great. He was the guide. We visited hilites of La Candelaria, Bolivar Plaza, the business centre, the downtown, a church from the 17th century, a great outdoor market – so many fruits, vegetables, flours, meats, etc. Mom, you would be in heaven! We also saw what was the bull fighting arena – up until a few years ago when the Mayor abolished it. The best part was the historical info received. The craziest was riding a bike on the streets of Bogota! I don’t do that home for freakin’ sake. Don’t get any ideas EOA, I’m not taking up riding!

That was my morning… in the mid afternoon I went to the Botero museum, Casa de Moneda, museo de arte del banco de la republica. I had to limber up my legs from the earlier ride. I must tell there was one stop on our ride my legs almost let go while I was walking downstairs.

I found a very good bar-reataurant to eat dinner – a freshly made hamburger with fries and fresh limonade. Cost… 7,000 COP = under 5 bucks! Toccatos. Will eat there again.

I chatted up a couple from Amsterdam tonight, they were great with sharing info about getting around, where to go, hostels, etc. I’m so thankful. Sunday I was hating on this place… today I’m in a better head space about it. When I don’t waiver.

Tomorrow… Zipaquira. The salt cathedral. A long day.

Ciao. Buenos noches.

PS. I burnt my face and hands today.

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy mothers day to all the women in my life.

I had a good rest last night. Got up this morning and set about of what to do today. On Sundays they close several main roads for the public to walk, run, cycle, from 7 am to 2 PM. It’s called ciclovia, yielding 120km of city roads closed. My brother-in-law would love it. Plus the museums are free. Lots of people out and about. Vendors with fruit cups, juice, carts cooking meat and what I think was plantane, and all kinds of wares… beaded jewelry, umbrellas, cell accessories, and lots of old junk too. Plus street buskers – some talented. It’s almost like a fair without the rides. I did meet a very nice man, named Alberto in the market. He spoke a bit of English and was interested in where I was travelling to.

The people were varied. Families, couples, old, young, groups, and homeless. The citizens dress and look like we do at home. Some with crazy haircuts, facial piercings, tattoos, you name it, it’s here. Cell phones are abundant. Pretty much everyone has one and those that don’t can purchase minutes from a vendor who has several phones each chained to a single cart or the wall inside their booth.

Lots of homeless all interspersed too. With all the activity the policia were everywhere. Saw a police wagon, open with bars like a cage and some poor souls in there looking out at the people. I wanted to take a picture but thought it to intrusive. I think there was enough shame for them already. The poverty I saw today would be like having the DTE threaded through our neighbourhoods. And on my way to the museo del oro (gold museum) I saw a man urinating, right in my line of sight. Such a dichotomy, to be going into a building housing ancient gold artifacts and outside it’s door are people eating garbage, filthy dirty, some with no shoes, begging, or relieving themselves!!!

Lots and lot of brick here. Buildings, plazas, sidewalks. Very slippery to walk on. Especially after it rains. This is definitely not a place for open toed shoes.

I found a grocery store – EXITO… reminded me of superstore or no frills. Yellow, lots of yellow.

There was a very cool market on my outing today. Some really nice leather items, very colorful. Lots of knitted wear. Jerseys… soccer. I saw some really nice antiques.

Well my feet ache! So I’m going to have a shower and put on my lovely healing booties I got at Christmas before I call it a night. Did I mention it’s dark here at 6:30!

Silly me, I didn’t change the SanDisk card in my camera so I could easily download my photos to my tablet!