$1 = 1,765 COP (Colombian peso)
I hate border crossings. Everybody is trying to sell you something or take you somewhere for a ridiculously high price. You can't trust anyone.
I entered Colombia without any problem and got a visa for 60 days. I had to change money as I heard later on it's very hard to do. With all the chaos I changed the money for less then I was promised. He did some calculator voodoo and ripped me off for $7. You have to watch everybody every second.
Since I was left by my previous ride I had to look for another one. I got a mini bus to Palomino for 30,000 COP (3h).
There is a well known coastal Parque Tayrona (35,000 COP). Since I didn't have much time for Colombia I dedicated one night for the beach camping. I've red that first you have to walk for 2-3h through the jungle to get to the beach in Tayrona. The heat combined with humidity was overwhelming and I really didn't want to hike for a long time with my whole backpack on my back. Two people told me before that I can go to the beach by pueblito Palomino instead. That it is also awesome, free and without almost any people. I have decided to go there.
As soon as I set my foot in Palomino I started wondering what am I doing here. This is not what I enjoy doing especially not in this tropical weather. Oh well, I'm here to explore and see different things. I bought water, apples and I hopped on a moto taxi and zoomed off in the direction of the ocean.
The beach was nice but was nothing special. It might of been a mistake not to go to Parque Tayrona. It's too late to go back now. I had to walk in a soft sand for a while before I found a great camping spot under coconut palms. I put up my hammock and I thought of sleeping in it but dark cloudslooked like they were up to no good. I pitched my tent and the rest of the day I was reading swinging in my hammock. There was nothing else to do. Due to clouds I didn't get to see a sunset and at night it did rain.
Tuesday, 26 IV 2011
Without any rush I packed my camp and headed out at 11am. This time I walked to pueblito which wasn't too far from the beach. Local buses are super slow and it took 2 hours to get to Santa Marta (8,000 COP). At least the road was very picturesque paved on both sides with lush green vegetation and view of the ocean at points.
I found a hostel (14,000 COP) by the coast and went for a short swim to cool off. In the evening I went out to stroll the streets at night with 2 people from the hostel (Cheri and Sebastian) and Cynthia (local CSer) and her friend Christian. Santa Marta is a nice town with cool plazas. The temperature at night is perfect where you can finally breath a little.
Wednesday, 27 IV 2011
There is only 220km (137mi) to Cartagena from Santa Marta so I thought it shouldn't take too long. Boy was I wrong. Taxi driver taking me to the terminal flagged down a minibus to Baranquilla saying that I have to go there first and then take another one to go farther (2h - 15,000 COP). After an hour wait I hopped on another minibus heading to Cartagena (3h - 15,000 COP). So in total I traveled for 6 hours! Later on my host Telmy said I could have taken a bus directly and travel only about 3.5 hour. I feel like I'm back in Bolivia where everybody is lying and telling you different things. Grrrrrrrrrr I have to start going about things a bit differently again.
With all this the day was shot.
Thursday, 28 IV 2011
The weather is even worse here than in Santa Marta! Humidity is through the roof!
Cartagena is a very nice colonial city. Old town is surrounded with a wall and there is a fort overlooking the water. Small streets, colorful buildings with balconies and green plazas. It's got a nice feel to it. Too bad the weather is unbearable.
I visited the Gold museum (free). It was small but had plenty of interesting pieces. The Naval museum (7,000 COP) is not worth it unless you're really interested in the who, when and where of the region.
In the evening I went out with Telemira to see the city after dark. It looked pretty awesome with lots of colorful lights and music coming from everywhere.
Friday, 29 IV 2011
Today I went to the Fort San Felipe (16,000 COP). There isn't that much to see there. Just the construction, some tunnels and views of the city from a higher up.
Afterwards I went strolling through Boca Grande. The beaches aren't too impressive there and the shore is dotted with high risers. I stopped at the beach bar to hide from the sun for a while and have a cold one. Right away there was a lady offering me a massage. She wouldn't take no for an answer. She would say it's a sample but took time to massage my neck, shoulders, arms and hands. I can't say it didn't feel good so even though I wasn't obligated it would be weird not to give her something (5,000 COP).
Goodbye beautiful but sweaty Cartagena. I hopped on a bus to Medellin at 9:30pm (108,000 COP).
Saturday, 30 IV 2011
The road was snaking through the mountains and the bus driver wasn't afraid to pass cars as soon as they came up. So my sleep was interrupted very often. It ended up taking 14 hours - D'OH!
Jaime, who I met in the Salar while hiking one volcano, took me into his house. Medellin is pretty big so it's good to have an inside man especially that tourist information didn't even have a map to give me. We drove around for a while and went to Pueblito Paisa. It is a model square with few houses from the county side. It is located on a hill so you also have a panoramic view of the city. We also went to Parque Pies Descalzos. It is an interactive park where you can relax, soak up your feet or walk on "massaging" rocks. It started raining and Jaime had a meeting to go to in the evening so we postponed further exploration.
At night we headed out to Calle 10 and Parque Lleras along with Jaime's girlfriend Marcia. Hundredths of people were out looking to get drunk. Jaime's friend had a birthday in one of the bars. Of course the music was so loud you couldn't talk to anybody. The bar scene here is like most places around the world - shut up and drink. Not exactly what I enjoy.
Sunday, 01 V 2011
Today I met with the Austrian giant Manuel that everybody had to have a picture with hehe. We met prior in Cusco, Peru and went to Machu Picchutogether. First we went to an aquarium in Parque Explora which was very interesting. Lots of amazing fish including fresh water ones. One aquarium was like a flooded part of a jungle with submerged trees and all. Very cool stuff.
Across the street was Jardin Botanico (free). A popular place for the locals to get away from the city. We met up with Manu's friend Carolina and spend some time there.
We went to La Villa de Aburra to have a beer. It is nothing more than a grassy slopy stretch but for some reason it is a major meeting point as well as a smoke out spot.
On Sunday almost everything was closed so we just chilled at Manu's house.
Monday, 02 V 2011
Jaime was my guide again and we went via metrocable to Santo Domingo located high on a north eastern slope. You have to know that Medellin is located in a huge valley and brick houses pave the bottom as well as climb up slopes on each side. It is a poor neighborhood but at least got some nice views. Later we walked around downtown visiting plaza Botero with his disproportional statues and Parque Bolivar. I found out that it's a law requiring every city to have such park and a statue in his honor.
My travels are almost over so it's time to visit one more place. I boarded a night bus to Bogota (12h - 55,000 COP).
Tuesday, 03 V 2011
Yessi was my host in Bogotá. Even though I was a bit tired after a bumpy night ride after brunch we headed out to town. I only have two days left here so there can't be any time wasting.
Bogotá is pretty big and it takes a while to go around it. We went downtown. Just wandering around we visited planetarium (free) with almost nothing inside and a VIP cemetery. Yessi had to go to work and I went to a botanic garden (2,000 COP) which was quite nice. Really peaceful, a bit overgrown in places with almost no people and geese that were chasing and wanted attack me.
At night we went to a bar with Yessi's brother Harry and her sister's husband Jairo. Que buena onda! I really enjoyed myself conversing with them. True, honest and good hearted people!
Wednesday, 04 V 2011
I didn't sleep much but this is really the last day so I want to use it wisely. First thing we went to Candelaria which is an old town with museums, plazas, churches, old colorful buildings and a presidential palace. We visited Museo de Oro (3,000 COP) which was pretty impressive with lots to see. If you likes guns and stuff then Museo Militar (free) is for you with descent collection. After Yessi went to work I took the cable car to Cerro de Monserrate(14,400 COP) from where I had a view of Bogota.
At night we went to Parque de la 93. It is a place para rumbiar. Wednesday isn't quite a happening day so we just had some good artesanal beer and chatted into the night.
Thursday, 05 V 2011
Not much else to do as to pack and head for the airport...
The trip has come to an end. 8 months which zoomed in front of my eyes faster than I hoped they would...
Unfortunately the flight had a 2 hour delay flying out so I had no chance of catching my connection. Spirit Airlines fly to LA only once a day so I was stuck in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for the following day. The airline only gave me vouchers for $7 for each of the three meals?! but at least they put me up in a nice hotel. I got a suite and the luxury was a bit of overwhelming after roughing it for so long. It felt a bit weird.
Friday, 06 V 2011
I don't think I will be choosing Spirit Airlines again. They had an hour delay due to changing of some lightbulb and then we were sitting on the tarmac in LA for another 30 minutes.
Ann and Bryant picked me up and we went directly to Warszawa Restaurant where some of my good friends were waiting for me patiently to have Zywiec together :)))
I can't even describe what this trip meant and how much value it had to me! It was an unforgettable experience. I learned more things about myself, changed some and reinforced other way of thinking. Right now everything is clear in my head and in accordance with my conscience.
Sooooooooooooo many chevere people made this trip unforgetable without whom I wouldn’t enjoy it that much. I'm forever in debt to ALL of you!!! Muchisimas gracias!!!
I have been traveling fast, changing places from day to day. This wore me out a bit. I should have stayed at some places for a longer period of time but I wanted to see as much as possible. This was in a way a recon trip hehe. For sure I will be back!!! with a plan for some extreme adventures…