Wednesday, June 27, 2012

boobs and arses

If there's one thing that I was really impressed by, not only in Cartagena but in all Colombia, mostly from Cali Northwards, is that most women have amazing boobs and huge arses. I don't know if they are real or not. Some boobs you can easily tell (I think) if they're fake or nott but the arses were huge. Me personally don't like them big.
Anyway, I'm back in Cartagena. I'm writing this last update, the last of my South American leg of my travels. Less than 5 hours before sailing away in the second boat I managed to hitchhike.
The first time I was here I spent only two nights and didn't actually see anything of the city besided the Old Town and Getsemaní (hostel area). This time I spent here 2,5 weeks looking for a boat so I got to see a bit more. The beaches for example.
For what I think it's the 99% of the people that come to Cartagena, the city it's only the Old Town and Getsemaní. Those are the only areas the vast majority of tourist hang out. Maybe with the exception of Manga: backpackers looking for a boat or coming in one arrive there.
Cartagena is more than that. 1,1 million people don't live in those areas. Another thing I don't understand is why publications like Lonely Planet call it something like "one of the most beautiful cities in the Americas" or "a jewel of a city". Why!!!??? Have they seen Olaya or the market or where the bus terminal is? I don't think so. They should say the Old Town is one of the whatever. And even there, it's a very, very dirty city: rubbish is everywhere on the streets waiting to be collected. For me, a colonial city is like Antigua: cobblestone streets, ruins, churches. Antigua doesn't have constructions higher than it's churches. Cartagena has high rises in the middle of Old Town! There are other towns that deserve the adjective of "most beautiful city".
My friend Carib was in Colombia so we met for in Cartagena for my birthday. It was awesome to hang out with him and remember the crazy shit we did in Guatemala three years ago. Also, for this of that reason we didn't meet in Europe twice. Funny thing, we met randomely in the Southern hemisphere.

Santa Marta

I left Taganga with a not so good impression of it. This could happen anywhere to anyone but it happened to me in Taganga.
Anyways, it was time to go and try to find a job. I had a "possible" or "maybe if you come we can talk about it" interview in Santa Marta. Nope, it didn't happen. They were looking for one. Maybe if I was alone would have been a different story. A guy I met in Panamá in December Arne, works there.
We started asking around in hostels. The last time I tried this I stayed in a few months in Kraków. Why it wouldn't work this time? Actually it did but I could only find work exchange, without food. Besides, the place to look for a boat is Cartagena, not Santa Marta.


We found a ride with a truck driver and slept under the trailer only to get to Taganga and had my laptop stolen by the police.
But I deserve it, how can I be that stupid and trust in them? would I had done that in Central America? Fuck no! Why did I do it in Colombia? maybe because I had sunstroke...


I know that no one has the obligation to to help but it was frustating and dissapointing and sad to see that other people was being helped and they posted on the CS forum after me!
For this reason I decided to change my strategy: for Bucaramanga I was going to post in English. But before I had to leave Medellín and travel the 400 km between Medellín and Bucaramanga.
I wanted to leave as early as possible but when I'm travelling with someone that rarely happens.
We bargain our way to "Barbosa". 2 minutes after an idiot walking beside me told me "no one will pick you up" a big car stopped and drove us to a reststop  somewhere.  After no more than 2o minutes two cars stopped but one some meters ahead of us and the other one right in front of us. I said that we were going to Bucaramanga so anywhere in that direction was good. We got in and I asked Carlos (the driver) where he was going and he said... Bucaramanga! we reached the city at around 16:00. 
Like I said before, after changing strategies I wrote in the emergency couch forum in English and about 5 minutes later we had two couches to choose from! That's how I came to know Sebastián  and his family.
We stayed for 4 nights with him and his family. When I left, I didn't want to but I had to. I ended up having another mum for a few days.
Bucaramanga was not was I was expecting. I don't mean this in a bad way. It's just that I thought of it as a small city and not that big. The area has a lot to do and see but unfortunetaly is not free.
Sebastián took us to the really close town of "Girón" which reminded me of Antigua but not quite. Maybe because of the cobblestone street. Nevertheless it was a lovely day trip. Miriam, Sebastián's mum, said we could stay longer. As tempting as it was, I need to start heading to the coast...


To sumarize things: we didn't find a job nor a place to stay in Medellín. We couldn't see a lot also because we always had our big bags with us. Lovely city but not a pleasant stay for me this time.
Experienced rich catholic people hypocrisy. Firemen in the South of Colombia are nicer, specially from Pasto.
Thank you Medellín for your hospitality! 

Two buses in a row

The forecast was positive. Actually more than that. A few months before when I left Medellín going to Pereira a aside from the fact that I had to walk a lot, it was quite an easy hitchhike. Now the only difference is some 30 km. The 30 km between Pereira and Armenia. How wrong I was...
We left Armenia really late. First ride was going to Pereira but I told the driver to leave us at the peáge. WRONG! I didn't know how to leave Pereira Northwards. In the peáge I decline a ride to Pereira. Second time WRONG! I didn't know how to leave Pereira Northwads.
Truck driver stopped and took us to, you guessed it right, to Pereira. After wasting almost two hours (or more!) while he dropped his cargo he left us in the west exit of the city, NOT the north. TERRIBLE spot. After a long while a short ride to the close town of "La Virginia" where we got stuck  and had to find somewhere to spend the night. We got kicked out of a petrol station. Night spent in the corridos of some restaurant.
Tuesday morning I found a ride to "Anserma" where the owner of a small restaurant gave us some coffee. Father and daughter or husband and lover or driving teacher and studern drove us to a peáge in Nowhereville. Ride in the back of a truck (coffee making including) to the begginning of "Ríosucio". Small ride to the exit of the same town.  Ride to the turnoff to Manizales with a weed smocking Colombian that was very proud of his Northamerican accent. After walking  a couple of kilometers we found a ride to "Santa Clara" (?). While thumbing, an intercity bus stopped and asked the million euro question: "where are you going?". I said that we didn't have money for the bus. He left. Stopped two meters down and said that he will take us to "La Pintada" because we were in a terrible spot, most likely we were. In La Pintada after no more than 30 minutes a bus stopped beside me and the million euro question was asked again. Million euro answer. Million euro luck! Not first time hitchhiking a bus (this was my sixth) but this time was the first time I hitchhiked two buses in a row! Another first for Colombia.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I don't really know what to write about this really small town. It covers an area of just maybe a couple of kilometers but in that small area there are over 50 hostels, hotels, guesthouses and people's houses offering you a room to stay.
There are two things worth ti see there (not for free in one way or the other):
  • The trek to "Valle de Cócora". There's no park entrance fee but you have to pay for a jeep to take you there and back.
  • The "Don Elías coffee finca". You can learn how coffee is grown, harvested, peeled, dried, roasted but it's 5000$ the entrance. I know all that anyway. I learnt it with Julio before going to Ecuador. Maybe not the toasting part though.
There is a small hill with a not-so-impressive view of town with an impressive 238 step staircase all the way up!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

not the one in middle Asia

I thought that the road leading to Pereira went through Armenia. It turns out that it doesn't so Adrian's dad left us at the turn off where we waited for a couple of hours until an old guy drove us to about 10 km from Armenia (close to the airport). From there, a pineapple finca owner drove us one street away (pineapple included) from Casa Quimbaya. One of the few hostels that reply to my email about a job. They wanted to see us for an interview but what they offered was not what I was looking for. But we stayed for a week in exchange for a bed.

Armenia is cute little town in the middle of Pereira, Salento and Manizales (I only didn't go there). It was here where my first ride coming from Pereira dropped me two months before. It was a nice town to stay and recharge batteries. We were sleeping in one of the dorms but since the hostel was practically empty (only privates were busy) it felt more like a private.

There's not much to see in Armenia (in my opinion) but I liked it. Not many people stay more than one night because they had a late bus when going to Salento or early bus leaving. But on the other hand, Armenia has a great location and you could make it your base camp for exploring the sorrounding areas which are not more than 50 km away. But not many people do this. They usually arrive in Armenia , change buses and head straight to Salento.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

shouldn't things supposed to be safe here?

This post is going to disrupt the chronological order of the blog but I feel the need to let everyone what happened in Taganga.
While looking for a place to sleep, we left our stuff at the local police station. I was thinking that leaving our stuff there  it was going to be safe... how wrong I was.
I only took my 2 people hammock, water, our passports and other small things.
Maybe I was naive or just stupid to think that the police here was going to be different. Maybe I felt that because "Colombia is not what it used to be 10 years ago" like a lot of Colombians told me before.
We slept somewhere in front of the ocean. The problem with sleeping in public places is that you have to go to sleep late and wake up early.
At around 7 we went to pick our stuff. The staff there  didn't even know that our things were there. When I walked inside the room I saw that my small bag was in a different place and not where I left it the night before and it was half opened.. I immediately thought the worst and indeed my laptop was gone. My camera was still inside because it fell on the side of the books I carry. Paula's camera was gone also. The power cord was (and still is) inside my big bag. I though of leaving it and tell them "give this to the wanker that has my laptop, maybe he can fix it and he will need the cable" but then again, saying that won't help at all in recovering our things.
I talked to the police in Santa Marta and they are "worried and embarrased" of what happened and apologize on behalf of the entire institution. Thank you, but none of that is bringing my laptop back! They are trying to do something about it. At least I would like to think that they are.
That same evening we went back to Taganga with the commander of the station. I we keep pushing things the policeman that received the bags WILL get into trouble. It's not my intention to fuck him up. Doing that won't bring the stolen things back. Karma.
For some strange reason I still like Colombia. Unlike Panama that I wanted to leave immediately. I guess a knife in your stomach can make the difference.