It’s Been 3 Years!!??

I’ve just been notified that I’ve been blogging, which means I’ve been travelling further abroad, for 3 years!

Thank you for sharing the adventure. Thank you for helping with the adventure.
Thank you

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Completely Amazed by the Amazon

I know, that is very easy and tacky word use, but I couldn’t better it.

I can’t even remember if the flight was bumpy or smooth anymore, all I can remember is that as we descended over a carpet of green leafy lumps, the river snaking through it, I never noticed the tiny airport.  Leaving the plane we were lead into one room where everything a normal airport does in several rooms.  This one room was packed with people, it was warm and humid and we all had to line up and pay an obligatory tourist contribution.  Nobody had mentioned that before.

We were picked up by our Hotel Manager, who delivered us to another hotel for our first night.  We would have been in the one hotel the whole trip except that Atlanta Airport had ruined all those plans, so we had to make do with what we could.  I strongly recommend never travelling through the USA unless absolutely necessary, it is terrible.  The Hotel Manager recommend we eat in a Peruvian Restaurant, so we went and tried it.  The Restaurant appeared more like a poor person’s house that they had converted the front to serve people in order to make money.  The food was alright but not spectacular, it made us wonder why such a place was recommended.
After dinner we called a MotoTaxi (somewhere between a motorbike and taxi) who took us on a tour of the town Leticia and its Brazilian neighbor.  Two countries for the price of one!  We returned and slept.

The alarm announced that we had to rush to get ready in order to make it to our first Amazon Tour.  Once we were at the Tour Office, the urgency came to a grinding halt.  I think we were there for an hour while they waited on other tourists to appear, for the tour guide to appear and also the list of who was going where.  Fairly unorganised.  I also recommend that you book your tour with a Tour Agency yourself, the hotel will charge you quite a considerable amount on top of their price and it’s basically for them calling or registering you online.
Our tour was amazing!  We were taken out on a boat, the whole tour is on boat, to see some of the small villages, they keep some of the wildlife as tourist attractions.  We got to hold a Sloth!  Then we’re taken to the Island of Monkeys.  You aren’t allowed to wear Mosquito Repellent and this is the place you need it.  It makes the monkeys sick though, so you have to deal with being devoured.  It’s a feast for all the wildlife, you hold bananas as the little fellas jump on you, take a bit, decide the other person has a better banana and jumps to them.  Some of the monkeys use you as their taxi, holding on until you’re closer to the tree they want to be one.  There are also people of the native tribe there.  The spell is broken when, at the end of your visit, they start dressing into Adidas and Nike.  We were then taken to some more villages before heading back.  The mood gets tense when the boat driver shuts off the engine, the tour guide whistles.  Dolphins!  They say that you may not see them and what makes it harder is that they are not predictable, the people trying to get photographs were hilarious.  They appear randomly about the area, you have to be lucky to get a good photo.

The next day we took another tour, this time to all three countries: Colombia, Brazil and Peru.  In this part of the continent they are all brothers, the borders aren’t controlled because they all benefit from what they can offer each other.  Again we saw some of the wildlife as pets, we also went to a family’s house where they keep two Anacondas (male and female), Piranha and a Manatee.  They are all amazing to see but yeah, there’s the question of exploitation that enters the head and becomes uncomfortable.  It rained as we pulled into a place for lunch, this disrupted part of the tour plan.  We still got to fish for Piranha out the back, Ingrid and I weren’t successful but some of the others were very good and pulled in many.  It could have been the same fish really hahaha  On the return trip we saw Dolphins again, in a different spot and if I’m not mistaken they were different Dolphins, pink ones, the ones from day before were grey.

We didn’t have much trouble with getting back to Bogota, everything was under control.

Kalimazoo Cali Zoo

On a fairly relaxed and lazy day, we made our way out to the Zoo ay.

Cali Zoo is surprisingly large.  It’s surrounded by tall apartment and business buildings and leads one to the assumption that it is some rich person’s garden with a few birds, a fish and a couple of dogs.  It really isn’t.  They have some fascinating displays of the diverse wildlife in the country, from the Amazon to the north of the country.  The 7-8 metre long Anaconda, lazily laid towards the bottom of the pond while around the corner an Ant Eater patrolled the perimeter of its enclosure.  Interestingly, there were a lot of new additions to many of the families, human and animal alike.  I don’t think I’ve seen so many babies before, particularly such young animals in a Zoo.  I suppose that with such a temperate climate, plenty of rain and the food is constantly provided, the ability to breed is very easy.
A surprise revealed itself towards the end of the Zoo route; an Australian Exhibition!  I got to see some old mates, the Galah, some Wallabies, some Budgies and Cockatiels.  The Zoo claimed to have a Red Kangaroo, I thought it looked more like a Eastern Grey Kangaroo but I had to question myself because… well why would animal experts get it wrong?

Delirio in Cali

As a fairly fantastic present, we were taken by Ingrid’s parents to a Salsa Spectacular called Delirio.  Taking place in Cali, the birthplace of Salsa – so I’m told, Delirio has a wide scope of Salsa related shows within the event to inform and entertain.

You enter the event into a tent like factory space, thing.  Everybody is dressed up to impress each other.  Almost immediately you are greeted by a Barbie Doll-like Colombian girl who is representing a sponsor of some sort, offering whisky or rum or some other drink or some food.  Once you have enjoyed their merchandise the next plastic surgery enhanced woman brings what her sponsor creates and sells.  I don’t mean to be mean, but I can’t help but be negative towards a room of women who have all had plastic surgery and ended up with the same shaped nose, botoxed lips, similar proportioned and contorted curves.  It’s not attractive as much as it is homogeneous.
Still, the atmosphere is very friendly, exciting and warm.  A few more free drinks and everybody loses a little bit of the pretentious self consciousness.  It’s a good thing because the next set of stalls are photographs.  Some are with some of the women I’ve just mentioned, some are with fancy old cars, the highlight was probably the creative setting where you would lay down on the ground in a pose and using mirrors, you are photographed.  You appear to be disobeying the laws of gravity.

To the SHOW!!

Delirio delivers!!  It was something like 5 hours, with intermissions separating each section of the show.  They have a segment that is the history of Salsa, with the dancers showing some of the African influences in the dance.  There’s a segment that is a tribute to Michael Jackson, back to back dancing to the tunes of MJ and then MJ as Salsa.  Very interesting and quite well done.  There’s drama, there’s romance, there’s a tonne of Salsa dancing and all the people get to dance in the aisles or on the floor during the intermission.
I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of the dancing or the music, but I was very well entertained by the spectacle.  If you were wondering such a thing, it’s worth seeing.

http://www.delirio.com.co/es/

Happy New Year from Cali, Colombia!

It’s a bit warmer than Bogota, around 20-30 degrees, a bit more humid too. Everybody wears shorts and thongs, a little like home.
The family came together at one cousin’s place, a huge house with a pool. I danced Salsa with an aunt. Salsa originated from Cali, didn’t you know? I’m not good at it, but with time perhaps I can turn pro before retiring to a sweet life of whatever retired dancers do…

Wishing all of you a great new year, better than the one before and that you find the time to make plans to turn your dreams into reality. It’s important to have goals and a path to achieving them, keeps you out of trouble.
😉

The View of Filandia

Filandia is a very small town in a very beautiful area. There are rolling hills, some covered in coffee plants and on the horizon are the mountains doing their best to meet the sky. The sun set accentuates the bright colours that the people have painted their houses in, making the whole place as if from a dream. Unfortunately the town is also quite poor and for every beautiful house that has great care and colourful detail, there’s a bit of a shack nearby, made out of whatever material is around. This is a bit of a theme for Colombia: glorious beauty neighboring with poverty.
There’s a park in the centre of the town, with a very handsome church keeping an eye on things. We stayed in a hotel on the opposite side of the park, near a cafe, although, it’s the coffee region of Colombia, so pretty much every shop is a cafe… The staff were very friendly and helpful, I believe it’s a family run business from the looks of things.
Being so close to Christmas, the park has been set up with lights and displays and stalls and it’s fantastic. Parked along the road that circles the park are many Yipao or Willys, a kind of Jeep that is important to both tourists and the coffee trade – normally they are completely loaded with both. They are normally red and the drivers are expects at handling The Line and all other hard roads or non-roads that is associated with the journey of the coffee trade.
One major attraction of Filandia is the Mirador de Filandia, the Lookout of Filandia. After taking a fair few stairs you have a full panoramic view of the area, the town, the hills, the mountains. It’s very nice.

Colombia’s Line

There’s one road out of Bogota, Colombia’s Capital City. It’s called ‘La Linia’ – The Line. The Line is 60 kilometres of winding road, up and down the mountains that, at times is just wide enough for two cars to pass each other in their own direction. Apparently it used to be narrower… Most of the road has no guard rails. Transport trucks must also drive this way. The usual time to do the journey is 3 hours. That’s right, 60 kms in 3 hours. If there’s a landslide and almost anytime there’s been a lot of rain there is a landslide, it can be days before anybody moves on The Line.
Fortunately, construction is under way for bridges, with guard rails, to connect some of the mountains and this will bypass some kilometres of the treacherous way. The unfortunate thing is that the bridges will only serve one direction of traffic, although, I am still believing that it will exponentially improve the safety and travel times through the country.
We’ve driven this road to a smaller, but still large city, called Cali. A lot of the siblings of Ingrid’s Father live in and around here. We’ll be spending time with them and most importantly celebrating New Years!
On the way we stopped on either side of The Line. One town was called Ibagué and the other Filandia. The stops were helpful for the drive as it takes hours to leave Bogota and then to have to face the extreme stress of The Line can be too much. It’s also nice that once you’ve safely conquered The Line, to relax and celebrate. Ingrid’s Dad normally uses whisky.
That’s another interesting thing here! The alcohol limit is Zero!! The penalties are severe, something like a huge fine and license confiscation for a minimal offence. People are still caught all the time, so it shows that harsh measures still aren’t as much a deterrent as people believe them to be.