The Curse of Taganga

June 16, 2012


With only two weeks to go on our South American adventure, Mike and I headed to the coast to recharge our batteries and deepen our tans. The city of Cartagena is famous for its colorful streets and tales of pirates. The old district is situated behind a stone fort with cannons still pointed to sea. We enjoyed the history and energy of the city for a few days but we were really looking to hit the beach. We hopped a bus, a boat, and a motorcycle ride to the nearby beach of Playa Blanca. We were finally back on a postcard quality beach. It was smokin hot everyday and the water was perfect. We opted to camp for three nights in a hammock. It was an incredible and relaxing experience. Lazy days spent reading, swimming, sleeping and eating fresh fish!

Next, our plan was to head to the small fishing town of Taganga about five hours away. We heard this was a quaint place where you could find nearby beaches, good food and good diving. This was also the route to the national park Tayrona, which we had heard good things about. Our last days would be spent scuba diving and camping on more beaches….perfect.

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More Colombia

June 10, 2012

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Tattoos in Medellin and chillin lakeside in Guatape

Salento

June 3, 2012

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La Serrana hostel, located 2 km outside the quaint town of Salento, is an amazing place to get away from it all. We had a beautiful guest house all to yourselves! We had a nice little kitchen, a fireplace, and floor to ceiling windows offering a 300 degree panoramic view of the stunning country side; a dream come true. Cooking our own meals was a real treat, so we made sure to load up on a wide variety of nice fresh veggies, which was a long time coming. We went horse back riding three times because it was so stinking cheap. $5 an hour, can’t beat that. Mike and I improved our riding skills on some hairy trails and practiced galloping, alot! We galloped up a busy winding highway, which was scary and exillerating.

The area is one of the prettiest landscapes we have seen. Rolling hills, vivid shades of green, and coffee plantations as far as the eye can see. It is cowboy country meets jungle. There are beautiful birds everywhere and butterflies dancing through the air. Hydrangeas line the dirt roads and hummingbirds buzz from flower to flower. We also saw many interesting insects during our stay. Huge flys, a leaf bug, large slugs and big green beetles, were some of our house guests.

The quiet town of Salento is set back in time. There are many shops with beautiful local crafts, that you actually want to buy. The artisans were very creative, and each shop offered something a little bit different than the next. Fresh trout is on the menu at all the local mom and pop restaurants. The mode of transport here is horseback or 1950’s Willy’s Jeeps. It is such a magnetic town that our two day visit quickly turned into a week. Colombia is taking hold on us and earning its place as one of our favorite countries on this trip. We could have stayed here at least another week. Unfortunately, time is money and we must keep moving, but we both know we will be back! Next up is the famous city of Medellin.

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Bogota

June 2, 2012

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Our time in the Amazon was up and we caught a flight to the big city of Bogota. Mike and I have had our fill of old colonial cities and were never really big city people to begin with but we hoped to find something worthwhile in Bogota. The city is enormous and sprawls out in a huge valley between lush green mountain side. The streets are charming and brightly colored which was a pleasant change to the drab decor of Peru and Bolivia. We were also very excited to have a plethora of dinning choices which didn’t consist of rice and beans.

Unfortunately we missed the national soccer game by a day and also found out about a reggae festival a day late too. Our timing seemed off, so we decided to wander the streets and see what we could find. We made our way through the famous Botero museum of art. Big fat people are not typically my taste but it was cool none the less. We also enjoyed a free sunday admission to the Museo de Oro, Gold Museum. The pieces of ancient gold were amazing and quickly transported our imaginations back in time. The museum also had great descriptions in English, thankfully, which went through the history of metal working. I found myself wishing I was an ancient princess and could wear all that beautiful jewelry.

I set out on a quest to buy myself an emerald that afternoon. Bogota has some of the worlds best and cheapest emeralds. Unfortunetely my tastes were larger then my budget. I could have easily gotten a small emerald of light green color but why settle. Next time I come to Columbia I will bring a bigger spending allowance!

Besides enjoying delicious mongolian and falafel the next day, we rode a cable car to the top of the mountain overlooking the city. There is a famous church at the top ( I can’t remember the name, it was very important to me, lol) that overlooked hundreds of city blocks spreading out as far as the eye could see. It was cool for the view but felt a lot like a tourist trap to me.

Our three days in Bogota were cool but we were excited to move further North into Columbia. Totally different landscapes and even friendlier locals await us!

Time for more Jungle!

May 30, 2012

Leticia Columbia turned out to be alot different then the Peru side of the Amazon. Right away we could see it was more civilized here and organized. The motorcyclist even wear helmets! We settled into La Jangada Hostel which is run by a really cool couple. Herve is a Swiss traveller who had biked across Europe and South America. Once he reached the Amazon he converted his bike into a bike boat and paddled from Ecuador to Columbia! In Leticia he fell in love with Alejandra and they started La Jangada. Herve does plan to continue his journey into the Brazilian amazon and all the way to the Atlantic ocean, once his permits are granted. These are two dynamic and interesting people. Listening to his stories of being alone in his boat in the middle of the Amazon is invigorating. He has had so many amazing encounters with animals and natives! You can check out his adventures at http://www.hervepuravida.com. We had a great night with them, chatting over crushed cocoa leaves and cervesas and finished up our drunken stupor at the favorite speak easy. 

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We decided that we needed to head back into the jungle to get another taste of the wild. Besides who knows when one is going to be in the Amazon again! We teamed up with two Americans named Josh and David, who were traveling during their break from medical school. We headed out with Carlos a local guide, for three days and two nights deep in the jungle.

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The Love Boat

May 23, 2012

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Michael and I fell in love with Iquitos but we were eager to get moving and see a new country…Columbia. There are two common ways of getting to Leticia, Columbia from Iquitos, slow boat or speed boat. The speed boat is a non stop 10 hour ride that sounded less then appealing. We opted to try and find a slow boat heading in that direction.

The boat dock is a crazy and confusing place. It is also one of the filthiest and stinkiest places I have been. I held back multiple vomiting attempts as we tried to navigate our way around crates of fish and other revolting looking cargo. Very little is organized here so we were told to show up on the day we wanted to leave and see what boat, if any, was leaving. We found the Lucho and luckily it was leaving that evening. This was no cruise boat, so erase that image from your mind. The boat was styled like a cargo ship with the front end piled high with everything from freezers to  giant prehistoric fish. Michael and I were really hoping there was nothing illegal stashed in the crates! The middle and upper deck were completely empty but we could see people were hanging their hammocks as early as 8 a.m. for our evening voyage. Mike and I opted for a “cabin” instead of hammocking it the whole way. Our cabin reminded me of a prison cell. Two bunks with an inch thick matt and spiders everywhere. lol Cozy! At least it was a safe place to keep our stuff in the night.  Read the rest of this entry »