Star Date: November 2013
Hello Dear Family & Friends!
Amonike? Chu elokoke!"
"Once you learn to find your way, you can never be truly lost—no
matter where you go."
Not all who wander are lost….
"We have been called many things. Travelers, by default. But we like to be called nomads. Explorers. Vagabonds. Adventurers. Wayfarers. Modern gypsies. Wanderers. We've adopted them all. A growing breed of humans with restless feet and the inability to stay still, the inability to stay in one place………We come from everywhere. But our inner gravity always brings us to the same place... the road……. We feel the most alive when we're out there. Living nomadically with nothing but our possessions in a backpack and moving as our only constant. Anything is possible ……. "
(Our daughter, Mariah, sent us this quote and link. Stephanie speaks from the heart and she touched our hearts with her truth. Thanks Mariah. Hope our travels together, with you and Kevin, have added such richness to your life.) (See more below)
And so these nomads, wanderers, adventurers continued our exploration of South America. North to Columbia, a country lost - now found!
Years of drug wars tore this beautiful country apart. For decades smart travelers avoided Columbia, not wanting to be a random casualty of crossfire on the streets. Violence erupted, the corruption fueled by power and money from the cocaine 'White Gold' cartels. Finally the scales were tipped and the drug cartels were sent packing (or underground). We were welcomed warmly by a country full of people ecstatic at their new found peace and curious about the returning travelers. Columbia is a country not to be missed!
An afternoon of winding roads with stunning vistas through the Andes found us in Pasto. 'Por su puesto', pesto pasta in Pasto. Of course, we had pasta in Pasto! Needing to live up to it's name we went to a market and bought vegetables, noodles and tomato paste. The little cafe next door let us cook before the rush of the evening and 'Voila' - pasta in Pasto.
Popayan is a shining example of an old colonial town that still lives in all its glory. Founded in 1537 it soon flourished and became a thriving city. In 1983 it was all but destroyed in 18 seconds, as a powerful earthquake ripped through the town. Thirty years later it is all restored and the university town atmosphere makes it a pleasure to stroll through the parks or sit at a sidewalk cafe.
Cali led us away from the mountains with its whirl of colorful traditional costumes and down towards the coast. We arrived at night to the throbbing music and hot, dizzying frenzy of a truly spicy Spanish city. Clubs blasting salsa, the heart and soul of these lively 'gente', were on every corner. After a hard day at work it is the norm to shower, dress up in slick, sexy clothes and hit the clubs for a night of dancing. Daytime found the parks full of equally well dressed strollers enjoying the spring weather. Cathedrals, busy plazas and markets reminded us that the hot Spanish blood of the conquistadors still runs through the veins of Columbians. We walked for hours exploring alleyways and parks, finding a wide array of vegetarian restaurants, including our favorite Govindas - where the Hare Krishnas cook love right into their food.
South America is a massive continent, 13 countries in all. Rough traveling at times, the intrepid traveler needs to look at the possibilities and decide where to take a bite out of the continent. Where else do you get to feast your eyes on the massive snow capped Andes, lounge on thousands of miles of white sand beaches, sit and watch the locals in restored colonial plazas or visit current indigenous villages or ancient ruins tucked away? And don't forget the Amazon basin which is home to more plant and animal species than anywhere else on earth. Whet your appetite yet? Wherever you decide to visit there are wonders awaiting. Old names ring in your ears such as Cartegena or Bogota. Rich in history is is fascinating to walk the historical streets, treading in footsteps of 600 years previous. Bogota is the epitome of Spanish colonial history with magnificent stone churches, parks, plazas, museums, restaurants, markets and street musicians. Perched at 2600m history oozes at every corner. Nearby Muzo and Chivor mines produce the finest emeralds in the world. Visiting the Museo del Oro or Gold and the emerald shops is a fun way to understand the history of Columbia. Chilly winds reminded us we are back up in the Andes.
Standing in the main plaza feasting your eyes on the Cathedral, the National Theatre and the Presidential Palace it is hard to believe that under all this pomp and circumstance corruption still runs rampant in the government, police and military. Walking the barrios surrounding the Universities, with student paintings and slogans, opens your eyes to the hidden dangers still facing the people of Columbia. Power and money corrupts at every level, in every country. Septimazo is a lively fun event when 7th Ave is blocked from cars and people turn out in hoards to nibble on street food, listen to music or visit.
Medellin is a city of perpetual spring that weathered the worst possible history in the 1990's. It was the center of worldwide coke trade and movies are still shown on the buses reliving the days of 'sicarios' motorbike riding hitmen or 'Columbina'. Violence was the norm when notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar ruled the area of his hometown. He was so rich that he offered to pay off Columbia foreign debt and paid his hitmen $1000 for every cop they killed. He was gunned down on a rooftop in 1993 ending a reign of terror. The 'paisas' are a strong, proud people and they have recovered and thrived once again. Cut flowers, coffee, and textiles replace the cocaine industry and innovative city planning makes this a pleasant place to visit.
Columbia's Caribbean Coast stretches for over 1500 miles and offers sun, sand and a shot of rum the whole way. Steamy Cartengena is a romantic, fairy tale city with cobblestone streets, balconies draped with flowers and and horse drawn carriages passing by massive cathedrals and green plazas. A thriving port from 1533, this was where the plundered gold and emeralds were shipped back to the coffers of Spain. Honey attracts flies and in the 16th century it suffered 5 sieges from pirates. Spain built an impenetrable wall around the old city which finally allowed them to sit and count their loot in peace.
Santa Marta with neighboring chill out hippy magnet Taganga Beach and beautiful National Park Tayrona close by has become a center for Columbians and travelers alike worshipping the Sun and Surf. We were fortunate enough to visit Mark, a great teacher of health using MMS. Traveling the world he helps those in need with this low cost amazing mixture, including the indigenous villagers hidden throughout the Andes. (see Thoughts on Health about MMS)
Loving the sunshine and turquoise Caribbean we hung along the coast as we prepared to cross over into Venezuela. Strict new immigration laws in Venezuela have turned traveler after traveler away. Hearing one silly fellow had been refused entry 3 times for blatantly ignoring the new regulations we gathered the 'scoop' and what we must do. With Word on your laptop anyone can create the necessary documents and reservations. Looking for a bribe and totally corrupt we likened the Venezuelan Immigration Officers to their Spanish conquistadores ancestors trying to squeeze the gold out of the people. Some things never change.
Stephanie continued: "We have learned to live in depth without comforts. The uncomfortable becomes comfortable to us. Most of us don't own homes, or if some of us do, they're probably renting it out to use that money to travel and explore. We don't spend our money lavishly on things we don't need. We don't buy many things, we don't let things own us. We've learned that the less things we have, the better we live.
We are mesmerized by every culture. We act like sponges when we go to a new country we've never been to, we immerse ourselves into every experience and soak our souls with its depth. We believe that smiles are universal and no matter what language fills our ears, we can see people's stories through a smile. We travel not just to go, we travel to evolve. Embracing new experiences, endlessly changing horizons, and each brand new day as a way of living
These are the stories we will tell people, the ones we love, the ones we just met, the ones who come and ago, the perfect strangers. We will keep showing the others that we were born wanderers, that wanderlust resides within every single one of us. And that no matter who we are, where we are, what we do, and what we have we can always choose to follow it.
We're not saying that you should
give up everything in your life this second, buy a ticket, and pack
your backpack. Although you can if really want to, if everything
inside of you is telling you to do so you should listen. But we're
saying that when you choose to strip away years of unnecessary
baggage, you'll find freedom. We're not saying that you should take
the risk and leap, then everything will always be peachy and
perfect. It's never like that. But what we're saying is, you should
allow yourself to be free. You should allow yourself to stand on the
fringes of life, and dive into its alluring ambiguity. Even if it
means facing your fears. Even if it means making sacrifices. Even if
it means letting go of things you've held onto for so long. Even if
it means having to let go of people you love. Even if it all
terrifies you. We're saying open yourself up to the world. Embrace
all of its worth. Let its teachings seep into all that you are.
And so here's the truth. We travel not just to travel and marvel at people, places, things. That's not just it. That was never just it for us. We travel to learn, to experience, and to feel all the spectrums of being human in this world.
One day, when we are old with silver hair, freckles, creases, and laugh wrinkles from many years of wandering drenched under sunlight our children's children will lay out with us under the stars by a campfire on a moonlit beach elsewhere. We will tell them stories of wild adventures, of lived dreams, of enchanting places, of conquered fears, of lessons that turned into gold, lessons that we've learned from the road, and a full life lived. Our journeys will inspire their own.
Our journey is our truth. It's the truth that illuminates us, as we continue on where we thrive and wander, on the road we call our home."
Visit Stephanie's blog www.infinitesatori.org for the original post and follow her journey.
Love, Light & Laughter,
1 US Dollar equals approximately 2000COP - Columbian pesos.
Masol Transporte: Check their prices for getting around between cities.
When crossing by
bus from Columbia to Venezuela check the requirements carefully.
They will not even sell you a
Real: For a taste of colonial life stay a night or 2 in this
classic of the old city. # 824 - 0685 Calle #5 -59
Worth the treat.
Many family run lunchtime vegetarian restaurants. Get there by 11:45 for a seat. Best one is Mana Vegetariano. Mayhem with some of the best selections yet. Friendly Daniel wrote a note about it but unfortunately it says the name of his wife instead of the street. Just ask. Calle 7 #9-56 Near San Francisco Cathedral, kind of! Another Delicias Naturales, Cll 6-8-19
Great vegetarian restaurants, just ask around for El Buen Alimento,
Nutricentro Cra 5 #7-34,
Near the University: Bulevar Sesamo - good lunchtime vegetarian food. Av Jimenez 4-64
Must see the Museo del Oro or gold. Fascinating look at what drove the conquistadores to conquer Columbia - GOLD! Also the finest emeralds in the world.
The Farmacia Homepatico - Santa Rita: 70 year old shop for all your homeopathic needs. worth visiting just to soak in the atmosphere with the ancient clerks helping your every need.
Hotel Republicano Colonial:
Luna Azul - Carrea 2 No 20-71
El Burotte Express: