Justin and Silver Al

Colombia

Preface | USA | Mexico | Guatemala | El Salvador | Honduras | Nicaragua | Costa Rica | Panama | Colombia | Ecuador | Peru | Chile | Argentina | Afterword | THE RETURN: ARGENTINA | THE RETURN: URUGUAY | Tips

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The Andes

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Silver Al Arrives In Colombia

In Colombia

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Columbia From The Sky

Feb. 14, 2008   Bogota, Colombia.  Because we so desperately needed to get out of Panama City and on the road again, we negotiated a couple half price tickets to Bogota on a whim and here we are!  We stayed at a real cheapy near the airport last night and caught a flight first thing this morning.  Now we have a room in the historic center and are just starting to check things out.  Don't have too much to say yet.  It is a bustling, traffic clogged city...tons going on.  It is the coldest weather that we have felt thus far.  Unfortunately, all our warm clothes are in Silver Al, so as night comes on, we just might be buying some sort of new jackets or sweaters.  We found out that we are not particularly near Cartegena...12 hours by bus.  Our taxi driver from the airport gave us a little point around as we drove in to the city.  Eli is catching a nap at this moment and I am about to wrap up this update.  I don't know why, but my nose has been running like a faucet for a couple days.  I might have run myself down a little in Panama City on a couple late nights out...no se.  It is embarrassing though...relentless.
 
I won't be adding any pictures or audio until we fetch Silver Al...hopefully on Sunday.  (She has all my cables) I also won't be able to edit the Panama section, or this one, until I get my lap top back too... (I cut and paste these passages into Word to find spelling errors and typos.)  So things might be raw and mistake ridden for a few days (what else is new, right?)...but I have a feeling the real adventures are just beginning again after a little stagnation in Panama, and I'll try to keep you all posted with a little more regularity.
 
Oh...one more thing.....I have always really, really wanted to visit Columbia someday, so you should know that I am absolutely and totally loving my life right now...like a pig in a pantry, like a snake in a bird's nest...another dream come true.  We will be sure to dig in deep here and let you all know what is true about Colombia!

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Bogota

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Above Bogota

Feb. 14th again..maybe....I have to admit, I have no idea what day it is...whether it is Thursday or Friday or the 13th or 14th or 15th. Yesterday I thought it was the 14th, but today feels like a 14th as well. It feels like a Friday today more than a Thursday, but I kinda think it might be Thursday. I could find out in an instant, but the beautiful thing is that it doesn't really matter and we would forget again shortly. While on this topic, we don't have a clock or a watch either, and back when we did have one, we never knew what time to set it to anyway.

Anyway, today is the day after the entry that I had labeled as Feb. 14th. It will be our first full day in Bogota. Last night we went to a cool bar/club full of young people with loud Columbian music blaring. We sampled some of the national beers and some of the national rum.

Bogota is at about 8600 feet, up in the tops of the Andes Mountains which we will get to know intimately in the upcoming weeks. Flying from sea-level Panama City to here left both of us feeling a little dodgy...light headed, tired, head-achy...just a tiny bit, not bad at all, but I recognized the feeling from other times I have changed my altitude significantly in a short amount of time.

Today we are going to look into bus tickets to Cartegena...possibly a night bus tomorrow night if they have one. Then we are going to check out the Museo del Oro...gold museum, and do a little other sight-seeing. A couple minutes ago I wandered by an eye-glasses shop and asked if they could buff the scratches out of my prescription sun-glasses. Instead, I am picking up a brand new pair around 5 tonight. They are super cheap -their cheapest pair- and feel like they are made of plastic but I really need a pair, especially for driving.

Well, I better find Eli and get this day rolling. Adios!

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Bogota Streets

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Bogota Hotel...And Gun Club

Later in the day.  Yup it is Thursday, Feb. 14th.  I am waiting to pick up my new shades down the street.  Today we took a gondola (funicular) up the steep side of the mountains to catch a spectacular view of Bogota.  It really is a huge city and we somehow managed to locate ourselves in a prime spot for checking everything out.  We found the Museo del Oro, but it is under renovation and the collection is elsewhere.  We got sent back and forth and around this corner and that, but finally gave up trying to locate it.
 
Tomorrow we catch a bus to Cartagena.  The first estimate that we heard was 10 hours, the next was 12.  Today we bought tickets and found out that it will be a 20 hour trip (direct).  I haven't done a 20 hour bus in a long time...Vietnam, perhaps.  We opted for the tourist bus for this one...as opposed to the chicken bus.  This way we can safely pop some sleepy pills if need be. 
 
At the bus station the ladies at the counter gave us a little treat.  It was a white fuzzy bean from a long fat brown pod.  You pop it in your mouth and eat the fuzzy slimy substance off the large nut inside.  Quite the textural assault in one's mouth.  Other than this, we have just strolled around.  The funicular must have taken us up another 1000 + feet.  Walking around up there (even walking up to the base of the funicular) our breaths left us quickly.  I have been a bit sleepy and even dozed off a couple times in the taxi to the bus station.  Typical altitude effects.
 
     There are a lot of police/military in Bogota, all sorts of different ones with different hats and different guns.  There are private security guards too, that escort upper class folks around.  These guys don't have visible guns but they are dressed in camo and do have huge muzzled Rottweilers.  The police/military are always helpful with directions and can be found in pairs on just about every corner.  I don't know if this makes one feel more safe or more at risk...I vote safe...so far.
 
Most of the people in the city are typical, big city folks...not particularly friendly.  Bogota is extremely fashionable, however, and it is loaded with young folks.  I have met a couple friendly people to chat with however and my Spanish is getting stronger.  We were advised to say that we were from Canada and not the states here in Colombia because of our government's involvement here.  I keep forgetting that I am from Canada, however, and haven't had any problems.  Eli, by the way, is from Australia...the lucky dog.  I think I might be from Puerto Rico soon...or maybe Hawaii.  I guess Hawaii wouldn't work...maybe Iceland...no they don't speak English, do they.  Bermuda, New Zealand.  New Zealand would sort of be copying Eli though...not far off the mark.  Think brain, think.  Belize!  Any help out there would be welcome. I'm thinking warm, beautiful...good food...maybe a country with hot springs and coconuts and armadillos...a peaceful nation...exotic, but English speaking.  I might just make up a little island, then no one could know more about it than I.  What should I call it.  The Shillty Islands in the Cappanco archapelego.  (That is how we spell Archipelago on the Shillty Islands).
 
Well, hopefully for your sake, my sunglasses are finished.  Sorry for the blather.  Adios (or good-bye, as we say in the Shillty Islands...where we only speak English...and eat good food while we lounge in hot springs...hot springs fed by hot waterfalls...a well protected secret)

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Maybe Bogota? Eli Gives Me The Buffalo Eyes

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National Museum Bogota

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National Museum Bogota

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National Museum Bogota

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National Museum Bogota

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National Museum Bogota

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National Museum Bogota

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National Museum Bogota

Sat. Cartagena.  First things first...I am living proof that the five second rule applies even to the dirty streets of Bogota.  It was my last chance to snack before the bus ride and a fast food chicken burger fell to pieces on the steet as we waited for the cab.  Not to worry, I called the five second rule and put that ketchupy, mayonnaiesy little sucker back together in three seconds flat...leaving two seconds free for a safety buffer. 
 
The bus ride went well.  20 hours it was.  Caught some great views of the Andes while the sun held out, then it was fields of fireflies and candle lit villages.   Naturally, the people behind me took issue with the back of my seat, but I let it slide.  We saw three movies.  One was about a kangaroo that stole a bunch of money, one was as slasher as slasher gets and the third was about firemen.  The sleeping pills that I thought that I had bought didn't put us to sleep, so I can't help but wonder what they were.  Medicacion para dormir...is what I asked for.  Maybe it was viagra.  He said about five hours of sleep.  Anyway, I've never tried Viagra, but I didn't feel particularly randy.  Who knows?
 
Once the lights went out on the bus, the roaches came out.  I didn't think roaches lived in buses, but dios mio...they sure do.
 
Now we are in Cartagena and I need to run to catch a boat to some island that we are going to stay on while we kill the weekend and then get our car.    
 
We had felt a little out of it when we first got off the boat, but ? beers later and I feel like a million pesos.  Eli just had a fly fly into his mouth at the last bar.  It went all the way.  Doesn't seem funny, but we were laughing like llamas....happy llamas. 
 
My new sunglasses distort my depth perception terribly.   Got to run if I can find the street (depth perception...not beer)

Colombian Politics

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Our Place Isla TierraBomba

20 Hour Bus Ride to Cartagena

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View Bus Ride

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Damiasie Justin and Eli TierraBomba Tres Banderas

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Cartagena Port

WE GOT SILVER AL INTO COLOMBIA

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Justin and Eli

TUESDAY FEB 19  I Just Spent Way too long uploading pictures and audio for you now, and I'm getting kicked off the computer....But here is the skinny;
 
WE HAVE GOT SILVER AL AND SHE IS JUST FINE!
 
WE SPENT TWO DAYS ON AN ISLAND OFF THE COAST OF CATRTAGENA CALLED ISLA TIERRA BOMBA.  (swimming, drinking, massages, hundreds of people gathered for bloody chicken fights, recordings which cannot go online, only people at the entire resort)
 
IT TOOK A FULL DAY OF PAPERS AND SIGNATURES AND TAXIS HERE AND TAXIS THERE BUT WE GOT SILVER AL IN ONE LONG DAY (even beat the Mexican trying to do the same thing...my Spanish is improving every day)
 
NOW WE ARE OFF TO WHO KNOWS WHERE.
 
GOTTA GO, I'LL PROVIDE MORE DETAILS SOON AND TRY TO EDIT UP THE PAST TWO COUNTIRES ANOTHER TIME.

Friday, Feb 22.  This will be another quick information spill as we get ready to hit the road.  Since we left Cartagena we have spent a night in Santa Barbara and last night in Cali.  Santa Barbara is about 30 K south west of Medellin.  It is a tiny little mountain town and Eli and I were quite the attraction.  We rolled in after dark and found a cheap tiny room with bunk beds right off the central plaza.  After dropping our bags off we went for a drink and were immediately surrounded by 40 kids and one really drunk old guy whose false teeth kept falling out.  We drank a couple rums and talked to the curious hoard.  Soon the attention was too much and we dodged away and found another bar with a little more depth to it.  In that bar, we made friends with another group of older kids...still pretty young looking, but in the bar none-the-less.  We spent another hour or two there and then 20 year old proprietor shut the bar down, but allowed us to stay for a while.  Now we were drinking rum and aguadiente, a fiery Colombian spirit made, I believe, of sugar cane as well.  Next things got fuzzy.  We hung out on the steps of the church (with a group of about 7 kids) and then we started to head to someone's house.   Along the way, Eli and I bought them a box of aguadiente by knocking on a sign less window, waking up a middle aged lady (who seemed happy for the business, even at that hour) and exchanging cash for the box.  Next we were walking down and down and down a steep winding hill, with the house always just around the corner, until we insisted on turning around...not worried about our safety as much as our ability to stagger back up the hill to our hotel.  The whole posse joined us and walked us to our door.  Two boys gave Eli and I their bracelets, Eli gave one of them his precious necklace, and we headed for bed.  I had the top bunk and my bed was basically a bag of leaves and sticks wrapped in a crackled up plastic piss sheet.  It got worse however, because somehow Eli and I ended up having a bit of a rumble and he, being on the bottom bunk and having just received an accurate kick to the sternum, knocked most of the middle slats of my bed off.  All the slats except one which got suck sticking up into the middle of the center of the mattress.  The next morning when we heard the voices through the walls which turned out to be paper thin, we felt kind of bad, but everyone at the hotel seemed happy with us.  We grabbed coffee at the bar we had drunken at the the bar tender burned me a great CD and gave me a brass, Jesus adorned cross.
 
The next day was a long drive to Cali.  Eli drove for a bunch of the day and around mid day the mountains gave way to flat straight roads and we made great time to Cali.  Last night in Cali we hung out with Johnny and Jamie (a Dane and a gringo we met at our hostel here in Cali) until 5 in the morning.  And this is where I must leave you, because we all over slept and have to get going.  We are going to San Augustine, where there should be hundreds of carved stones scattered through the hills and mountains.  I have heard that the road is terrible however, and we are giving Johnny and Jamie a lift there.  Should be interesting.  I promise to try to write a little more detailed account soon.  (like our first time getting pulled over in Colombia, getting lost in Medellin, heavy rain, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful mountains, Cali...home of the salsa dance, the huge truck accident and our sneaking though miles of backed up traffic...oh so much to tell you but I DO have to run right now.

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Silver Al in Cali at the Iguana Hostel

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On the way to Popayan

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Town We Had Lunch In

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Accident With Traffic Backed Up For Miles

The drive out of Cali was a monster. It seemed like it took hours of driving through the outskirts, feeling completely lost the whole time, and then a sign would flash by telling us that we were heading the right way somehow, but then another half hour would go by of no signs, roundabouts, high roads, low roads, dead ends, construction blocks-offs, left or rights, making decisions without signs, feeling more lost than ever, taxis, donkey carts, dogs and kids in the road, cars honking at every stop, police check points…just mad. It took a lifetime to get out of the city, a life time. Jamie and Johnny in the back seat were super cool. We figured that they were wishing that they had taken the bus, but they thought that the novelty of driving in Colombia was well worth it. That is our gig…the driving thing…instant respect from other travelers…how the hell can you drive through this chaos. The streets are mad, seemingly lawless. No one stops at lights, stop signs, no one watches the lines in the street, cars merge and unmerge like an adrenaline charge ballet. There is a certain respect paid to one driver from another unlike in States, but if you don’t understand you will certainly make a mistake and you will pay with, at the least some heavy honking and hand gestures and, at the most, a collision.

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Cali Art

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Santa Barbara Friends

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Santa Barbara

Welp, I’m just waking up here in Popoyan, Colombia after a great evening around town. I don’t know what time it is but I am sitting in a dark room with four beds. Eli, Johnny and Jamie are asleep. There is a little crack of light shining in under the balcony door and from that same crack there is the sounds of the street. Cars whizzing around, people calling out the names of the goods that they are selling, and lots of motor bikes beeping and zipping around cars…motor bikes are huge around here. We arrived in Popayan yesterday around 5:00, and wandered around trying to find a room. Lots of one-way streets always going the wrong direction than the one we wanted. One cheapy hostel after another full. Finally we found this room and it is great. Cheap, (12 bucks a head), huge (three single beds and a double with ample floor space in between them all) a high ceiling, table and chairs, and two balconies from which the scenes of the street and the bustle of the people can be birds-eyed from a storey above.

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Beware Of Falling Rocks

So today we headed for San Augustine. What an adventure! I’ll start by saying that currently we are back in Popoyan. Yup, the road to San Agustine is horrible. After a half hour of decent roads the road turned to shit. Dirt, loaded with potholes…deadly potholes. I don’t think you could call them potholes, they were more like heroinholes…deep, bottomless, life wrecking holes. Instant end-of-trip holes. Game over, trip over, whole-front-end-of-car-eaten holes. We made it down the road for four hours, easily driving more slowly than one could walk. Passing people who would not smile back, huge broken down tucks, landslides across the road, I drove and Eli helped navigate the rocks. So many times he was out in front on his hands and knees watching the oil pan…turn the wheel to the left, turn the wheel to the right…just an inch….now straight on. NO, STOP!! Back up. Try again. Jamie and Johnny rode on the rear bumper of the car to keep the front up higher. The car was disappearing in holes that were unbelievable. I can’t tell you how we made it through, I can’t tell you why we tried, but there came a point when the underside of the car hit one too many times and the road ahead looked worse than we had seen and we suddenly saw the light. If we go any further we are going to be leaving Silver Al in the hills of Colombia. No doubt. Braking down in the middle of Costa Rica was one thing, and at the time that felt like the middle of nowhere, but four hours into the mountains of Colombia…four hours up and down this winding Colombian dirt road -through coca fields and around cows and boulders with no villages anywhere for miles upon miles…I was really feeling like I was about as far as I could get from the modern world. Nobody could tow us here. There were no mechanics, no gasoline stands, no nothing. I think Eli and I realized at the same moment that it was just not worth ending our adventure in such a way, such a stupid way. It was obvious… just a matter of time before the oil pan would be shattered, so we swallowed our pride, turned around and slowly made our way back the four hours to Popayan, arriving back around 8 PM, to the same hotel of the previous night which gave us our same huge room.
Later, at a bar, I was talking with a Colombian fellow about the road to San Augustine and he said there was a better road north of Cali and that the road we had taken was ‘muy peligroso’…very dangerous because of recent guerilla activity in the region. We didn’t have any problems or ever feel particularly threatened, however.

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Road to San Agustine

Heading to San Augustine

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Eli Helps the Broken Down Truck

Giving up on heading to San Augusti

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Rough Road To San Augustine

Giving UP

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Searching out the Best Path

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Local Ladies

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Eli Johnny Jamie Justin

Streets of Popayan

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Well, I am in Popayan and I'm having some internet problems.  I wrote up a nice big piece and had a bunch more photos and audio clips for you all, but this computer is not reading most of it off my flash drive.  Maybe tonight I'll get more up for you!

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Popayan Streets

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Justin Johnny Eli and Jesus

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Popayan

A little bit about Colombia:

The People: The people are very friendly once you engage them, but often times they don’t smile or even look at you until you engage them.  Most likely they are just trying to be polite by not looking at you, but Eli and I joke that they are thinking in their heads ‘if I have to look at you stupid gringos for one more second I am going to kill you’.  Once you engage them, however, you realize that these are some of the most sincere and warm people anywhere in the world.  They are sophisticated, eager to share information about their beloved country and lots and lots of fun.  They look after you too, even strangers on the street might come up to you and tell you to be careful, that the streets are dangerous. 

The Danger:  I know that there is danger here, but it is my impression that it is over-rated.  We have been lost in a number of big cities, been through a few bad neighborhoods, gone out into the middle of nowhere on roads so bad that we couldn’t, on a good stretch, out-run a turtle with a bum knee.  There is trouble that one can get one’s self into anywhere in the world –Colombia is no exception, but it generally feels quite safe.  Being in the car, we often stay in towns that no one visits.  We are off the gringo trail almost all the time.  Our Lonely Planet guide doesn’t have one dog-ear…completely neglected on this trip, but we have never felt threatened (watch us get lynched this afternoon- suckers)  The people of Colombia are constantly telling you what danger you are in where you are or where you are going or where you have been, but they are just being overly cautious.  Dead gringos are bad news for the emerging tourist industry, everyone knows it. My advice, come to Colombia…but don’t necessarily tell everyone else to, because there truly are less tourists here and it is nice that way.

The Food: Chicken, potatoes, rice and fried plantains. Chicken, potatoes, rice and fried plantains. Chicken, french fries, rice and fried plantains. Chicken soup followed by chicken, potatoes, rice and fried plantains. Chicken, potatoes, rice, a small salad and fried plantains. Chicken, potatoes, rice and fried plantains. Chicken, potatoes, rice and fried plantains. Fried fish, potatoes, rice and fried plantains.  Chicken, potatoes, rice and fried plantains. Fish head soup followed by chicken, potatoes, rice and fried plantains.  Chicken, potatoes, rice and fried plantains. Pizza. Chicken, potatoes, rice and fried plantains. Over cooked beef, potatoes, rice and fried plantains.  Last night we actually got menus at the restaurant we ate at, which is very rare. I asked what was good and ordered it…some kind of bistek con salsa criolla.  It was bistek alright, but not bistek de rez, it was bistek de higi-something-whatsy.  Meat covered in a tomato onion sauce arrived.  One bite and somehow I knew….a huge plate of livers.  I just couldn’t do it, but Eli, the stand-up friend that he is, switched plates with me and I ate his fish.  I owe him big for that one.  Eli is one hell of a friend…you know this of a person when they insist on eating your big old plate of livers.  There are a lot of baked good around as well.  Lots of empanadas and croissants filled with one thing or another, breads, dry little cheese donut things, coconut covered, jelly-filled, whoosey-nots-its.  They haven’t learned how to fill a donut here.  They slice them in half and slather their fillings around on the things.  The fruits here are also out of control.  Sooo many fruits that I have never seen before.  Exotic shapes and colors.  When you get a new fruit, you don’t know what to do with it…what parts to eat, what parts to suck out, what parts to peel off, what parts to discard.  You need someone to show you what to do.  Some you just squeeze and they open up.  Sometimes the best part is the part that looks the worst…like mucus with little slime balls clumps inside. Colombia is like a fruit candy land.  I want to try them all, but I don’t have time.

The Music: Salsa, salsa, salsa, -meringue, salsa, cumbia, salsa, -salsa, salsa, salsa.  Up on the Caribbean there is a little more of the reggae-ton, and some samba feel.  But here it is all about the salsa and people are dancing in every bar, all the time.  If you are not dancing, you are drumming on the table with your hands and bopping your shoulders to the beat.  If you are not dancing, you are getting ready to dance and if you are not getting ready to dance there has got to be something wrong with you.

The Police:  There are lots of police check points, but we have never been stopped at one.  We have been pulled over once by two police boys on a motor bike and they walked up to us with huge smiles.  They never asked for a scrap of paper or ID, they had just been following us for a while, staring at our weird Maine license plate and figured that they were in a position to meet a couple gingos.  They passed us and flagged us over.  They must have been 17 years old.  We chatted it up with them for a bit, blew their minds with the notion of the crazy trip we were taking and then we all shook hands, exchanged wishes of good luck and were on our way… leaving them laughing on the side of the road behind us.  In many places there are a lot of police/military and they travel in groups.  We have seen some burly police/military tank-like armored trucks.  The police/military people here don’t ever bother us, but if you approach them they are always very courteous and helpful.  They do tend to stare at us, but usually with smiles.  The license plate is a huge hit here.  Everyone stares, double-takes and tells their friends to stare too.  We have seen a motor bike almost crash in the ditch because the driver was staring at our license plate.  We have seen someone walk into a lamp post staring at our license plate. We have had numerous people take photos of our plates.  The cows even stare at our plates.  We aren’t so interesting, but our plates are out of this world.

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Cows

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Off the side of the Road

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Walking by

Today we are heading toward the border.  We decided that we don’t have time to hike into Ciudad Perdido on this trip.  In fact, we are quite pressed for time.  South America is huge compared to Central America.  Moving an inch on the map suddenly takes all day.  Both Eli and I are looking forward to Ecuador which is coming right up.  We want to cook another beach chicken soon.  We want to lay in our hammocks again.  We have got to get on the road…get this row boat on the show boat.

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Don't look down, just drive

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Landscape

It is Sunday night, the 24th of Feb.  We drove today to the town of Pasto, which puts us in good striking distance to cross into Ecuador tomorrow.  Johnny stayed on in Popoyan to take another stab at getting to San Augustine.  Jamie is catching a lift with us to Ecuador.  Jamie is a middle school teacher from San Diego, CA.  (Jamie is a she) She likes country music and all the fun things that country musicians sing about. (beers and pickup trucks and traveling around the world with a back pack).  Jamie is as laid back as can be, which is a good attribute when traveling with Eli and I.  Jamie has a half Polish, half Mexican boyfriend back at home so you know she must be pretty cool.

 

Last night Johnny and I went out around Popoyan and stayed out late into the night.  Johnny is a Dane, by the way.  A caterer who heads over to South America every time he saves up enough money to do so to visit his Peruvian girlfriend and backpack around.  He speaks good Spanish, great English and is a load of fun to toss back a rack of beers with and chew the fat.  We first went to a great Salsa bar and drank back quite a few rums, people watching and meeting a friendly bar-fly who spoke a little English.  The bar was small, but played great music and there was a lot of dancing and table pounding.  I would love to learn the different Latin dances someday, but I have not participated in any dancing around here.  Not only are the moves and steps quite specific and very fast paced, but it is also the man’s job to lead.  I am more of the table pounding type, occasionally tapping a lighter on a bottle if I get really carried away and it feels appropriate.  This bar had a wall of music, all salsa our friend told us.  Much of it was in records, which was pretty cool and probably from a pretty old collection.  Anyway, we drank a small bottle of rum at this bar until the closing time (2 AM in the town center) and then our new friend, Jose, invited us to join him to a bar outside the center.  This bar was cool -a real local scene.  Once again dancing, dancing, dancing and everyone carrying on.   This time, however, per the advice of Jose, we ordered a bottle of Aguadiente and polished that off.  By the cab ride home, Johnny and I were pretty loaded…I think him a little more than me.  ..So anyway, this morning I woke up feeling really roughed up, and did for much of the day.  That aguadiente is potent stuff and I’m going to be careful with it from here on out. 

     The drive today was spectacular.  Climbing, climbing up through the Andes.  Rugged but lush spiny mountains. Green valleys with clouds flowing through them.  Road side drop offs that have no visible bottom.  Villages and fruit stands, and police check-points.  Today we got waved over at three different checkpoints.  At one they actually checked our papers, the others just asked a few questions.  All were very friendly.  We also picked up a hitch-hiker and brought him 15K down the road.  He was a nice guy…even invited us to stay with him…but the extra weight was tough on Sliver Al and I had to drive more slowly than ever around the potholes.  During the drive we passed many, many landslide areas…some pretty fresh looking.  A couple times much of the road had washed off down the mountain.  It has rained a lot recently and the land is also wet from the clouds.  It always makes me a little nervous driving through the recent landslide zones.    Falling rocks is another nightmare that you feel close to here.  We passed many rocks in the road, sometimes even having to move some.  That would be a bummer, coming this far to get crushed by a falling rock.

     Once we arrived to Pasto, we found a room pretty quickly.  The guy, Jose, that Johnny and I had met the night before had recommended a place called Hostel Kuala and we found it in a snap. The room we took wreaked of diesel fuel, had no running water in the sink, shower or toilet (even though the reception talked us into the room with the private bath) and had a crazy Colombian boy-band staying at the nicer hotel next door, which has caused a commotion in the street.  Right now it is about 1:30 AM and there is still a mob of screaming kids outside.  They have been chanting and singing since we rolled into town.  Close to a hundred die-hard fans, making a ruckus.  Our room is right on the street above it all and it is a mad house out there easily audible through the closed window. 

     That’s the skinny down here.  It is quite cold up in the mountains.  I could see my breath earlier.  I didn’t even bother to bring my back pack in from the car, so I’m sleeping in my jeans and jacket tonight.  I’ll be all ready to go tomorrow…go to an internet café and hopefully upload a bunch of pictures and a couple audio clips as well as this text, go to the border and see how the crossings down here are done…and go to Ecuador.  Next time I write will probably be on a new page…let's hope so!

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Andes

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Small Town Colombia

Gruppies in the Streets

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Streets

More Kids Screaming Outside

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