A Travellerspoint blog

Taganga, Colombia

(CP) Our first taste of the rainforest....

semi-overcast 28 °C

We left Cartagena on the 24th October and travelled north to a small fisherman's village called Taganga... and have pretty much been here ever since! 10 days later and we are promising to leave tomorrow, which seems to be the same promise from everyone we meet who get stuck here.
How can i explain the place... A quiet town on the Caribbean coast with a small beach, few restaurants, a couple of bars that open when they feel like it and then El Garaje, an outside bar / club that plays a mix of local and western music to suit the mad diversity of drinkers.
Doesn´t sound like much but its like we are on holiday, dare i admit that travelling is not all hard work! The food has been amazing fresh fish, salads and chicken and beef to die for. Needless to say, we are heading in the wrong direction for our Rio bodies come February.
We are staying in Casa Filippe. http://www.lacasadefelipe.com/indexeng.html. Have a look at the website and you´ll get an idea of why we can´t leave. Obviously this is the 1st time we are out of a main city so we´ve taken time out to unwind from the hectic life in London with the help of numerous hammocks. ( if i can get in one before Laura takes ownership for the night!!)
We went on a 3 day trip to Parque Nacional Tayrona, a vast national park with beautiful beaches along the coast and rainforest inland. A few of the beaches have campsites where you can stay in a tent or rent one of the 30 hammocks they have hanging under a thatched shelter with a restaurant. To get there you take a 40 min boat ride which is meant to be relatively stress free other than the occasional choppy wave or the risk of an engine packing up. We entailed both but i think our group should take responsibility for this, you are advised to leave before 1pm as in the afternoons it gets stormy but we were a little behind schedule (no surprises there, with Laura and i in tow..) and far too busy making sure we had enough supplies of Rum, Coke, Limes, red wine followed by an after thought of water and crackers. When we finally head off its 2.30pm and it is indeed stormy. Lets just say jumping the waves was fun for the 1st 10 mins but after that we had a sore bums, everyone was soaked and then of course the engine gave up. Thankfully they managed to get it started again and we made it to Finca El Paraiso before the rain hit. It is as beautiful as you imagine and a world away from home, my only complaint other that the hundreds of Mosquito's was that i had barley been there 30 mins before my flip flops were stolen... my only pair!!! This seemed a good enough reason along with our adventurous boat trip to have our 1st glass of wine for the evening, followed by drinking all of our 3 day supplies and passing out in a hammock alongside 20 or so others. The following day we nursed hangovers on the beach and took a walk round to the next beach along. Unfortunately from 5pm it didn't stop raining until the next morning and with only the occasional beer from the restaurant we did not sleep so well so decided to head back the next day. The rest of them took the boat back but Laura, Jill and I choose to walk back and see a bit more of the park. What we thought was a 45 minute walk actually took over 3 hours and my bare feet and I were pretty knackered by the end but was definitely worth it!!
We went to pick Kathryn up from Santa Marta on Saturday, she has settled in nicely and enjoying some sun. Laura and Kathryn went diving yesterday, Laura took her advanced so is over the moon and although Kathryn could only do a mini dive she loves it so much she has now decided to become a Marine Biologist. I´ve had a cold so haven´t been able to go but will save myself for the Galapagos.
P.S We have already adopted our first stray dog, named Gismo. He follows us everywhere and sleeps outside our room. Laura´s convinced we´ll have a Noah´s Arch ship ready to send back home by the end of our trip......

CP

Posted by Peacocks 09:21 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Cartagena, Colombia

(LP) Sun, Sea, Hammocks and Cuba Libras (rum, coke and lime)...

sunny 30 °C

Cartagena is a beautiful walled city up in the north of Colombia. It is really charming colonial town that oozes history with a really Caribbean feel, it reminds me a little bit of Cuba. cartagena_087.jpg The colours are bright, the food is fried, the alcohol is sweet, and the dancing is sexual and it´s all to the beat of a Caribbean drum. The women all wear incredibly tight clothes and the men stare. The cobbled streets are lined with people selling hand made jewelry and all the old buildings are gorgeous, it´s very "Pirates of the Carribean". That said, it is beautiful place with a dark side. Definitely somewhere you need to be aware of the fact that you are a tourist, and some people do just see you as an opportunity so you just need to keep your wits about you and not flash your cash, or camera, in public too much.

It is one of those places that you get the most from just wondering around and soaking it up. We took a trip to a mud volcano, which is exactly that. Really weird sensation and lots of giggles as you're massaged and pushed around whilst you float in a bottomless pit of dense mud. You then go into the lagoon where your bikini is whipped off you quicker than you can say "Cuba Libra", and washed all over by women waiting in there for you. clare_303.jpg

We also took a day trip to Playa Blanca which is absolutely beautiful. Just as we pulled up, the heavens opened accompanied by pink fork lightening and some pretty awesome thunder. Taking shelter and eating our Fried Fish, Coconut Rice and Planata, the local dish, we got bombarded by lookie lookie men and women. Then, quickly as the rain comes it goes, as do the "lookie lookies", and we got some sunshine, white sands and turquoise waters.clare_381.jpg

I think for us, the best thing for us about Cartagena was the people we met there with whom we've been traveling ever since. The usual debauchery of drinking games ,playing cards and exchanging stories which is as much a part of traveling as the places you visit. Introducing Lacey, Jill, Ronan, Ian, Mike and Clive.clare_368.jpg

LP

Posted by Peacocks 16:24 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Bogota, Colombia

(LP) Easing ourselves in gently ...

semi-overcast 18 °C

Well , we're here! The departure day was a little less stressful for me as I had a mobile phone, a chauffeur and a gorgeous little puppy on my lap, yet Claire still made it to the airport before me, in the face of difficulty, despite my very best Red Herring.

We wanted to use this blog for our own records but also for those who want to know, not only that we're still alive, but a little bit about the places we're so lucky to be seeing and experiencing. So I'm gonna try, probably in vain, to let you know the more interesting bits of what we've been up to and also give you some kind of idea of what these places are like as, despite our bestist photographic efforts, there is still a limit on what can be shown in a 2D image.

So, Colombia. Well I guess the first thing is that the violent and dangerous image that the country is burdened with completely overshadows what the country has to offer. That's not to say it is completely unfounded, but it is improving so rapidly that, at this rate, soon it will be a thing of the past. We were lucky enough to get the chance to immerse ourselves in "proper Colombian life" as we stayed at my friend Camila's apartment. Camila is a Colombian that I met in Cambodia, much to the amusement of the Miami airport official who was trying to distinguish whether we were at all suspicious and exactly what our business in "The United States of America" was. Such a relief to get out of MIA and into Colombia where everyone has a smile on their face and will chat endlessly to you despite you not understanding 90% of what is said.

Like any city there are all different faces to Bogota. We stayed in Camila's apartment that was just lovely. It's got massive windows, hammocks, it's really colourful and full of art and pot plants. This is in the Student-ish area where there are nearly 20 different universities so it has got a really young vibe to it. Everyone is always out on the streets, especially at night and it feels like a gig has just turned out or something. It's a really cool buzz and it pervades the whole city. There is another area with all cobbled streets built on the side of mountains so you can get out of breath pretty easily because of the altitude (2600m above sea level).

We took a cable car at a 90 degree angle up to a church that over looks the city which is just beautiful. There we were, both still heavily caffeine dependent so sipping on a "Cafe con Leche", in the most peaceful place imaginable. All you can hear is the wind and the sound of running water, your surrounded by flowers and 'reasonably' tasteful religious statues whilst massive birds of pray circle above your head. I had one of many moments of 'if anyone asks me why I love to travel so much', that's why.

There are also really cosmopolitan areas for wine-ing and dining so as a city as a whole it's got loads to offer. We saw a Flamenco show courtesy of Camila's lovely housemate Clara followed by a night a heavy drinking and rambunctious dancing. The Colombians, it seems, will give anyone a run for there money on the partying front. Not to be shown up, Claire and I got fully involved and all in all had a tremendous evening.

The next day, all a little hungover, in truely hospitaliable coloumbian style we got invited to Camila's friends, from the night before, for a birthday BBQ celebration. Marcel is Argentinian and we had the most amazing traditional food of Argentinian beef, salsas and fish. All just placed on chopping boards and passed around. It is such a nice way to eat compared to our Barbies with everyone's plates piled high! Natalie, his sister, boyfriend is a singer and after a steady flow of red wine he started to sing and play the guitar while they all joined in. I don't know how to make the distinction clear between that and the drunken SingStar image I might be creating, but it is such pure and earnest happiness. I can't imagine Claire and Jimmy sharing a microphone whilst I sit on the sofa and join in. Manela is an artist and she paints these beautiful doll paintings, Camila has a couple in her apartment. Well, Claire was expressing how much she liked one of them and they gave it her as a gift, a keepsake so that we'll remember our time there. It was, is, the most special gift, and it left us both a little bit speechless at their generosity.

Claire has been nagging me to do my bit as she is already for her next installment, but this is the problem, once I start "gassing" or "shitting on" as our lovely new Irish Amiga's would say, I don't really know where to stop. So I'll leave it there for Bogota, as a first stop it was fantastic and we really eased ourselves into the traveling life gently. We could have stayed longer but the Bogota chill was getting to us a bit so we boarded a bus, which was more like a load of beds on wheels, and headed to the Caribbean coast for some Sun, Sea and Rum.

LP

Posted by Peacocks 10:57 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

London

(CP) And we're off..........

sunny

A week in and we've finally managed to set up our blog. We've decided to do one together so as not to bore you all with 2 lots of essays on what we've been up to. Its been 6 years since i was travelling and thankfully the cyber world has come on leaps and bounds since then, what a perfect invention 'A Blog'! You only have to read it if you want to instead of us clogging up your inbox and we only have to write it once.
The plan is to use this for our memories too so if we go into too much detail then we won't blame you for not reading it. Saying that, i think Laura managed a whole 2 group emails last time she went travelling and i don't remember being that much better so maybe i'm running ahead of myself.

First things first, i'd like to back track a bit to the week before we left. Emotional, sad, apprehensive, excited and finally feeling like we are really going are but some of the things going on in my head. You all know how long we have been planning it and also the many reasons behind it and Thank you all for such a great send off. I feel so lucky to have such a great family and group of friends and i know Laura feels the same. Who knows what we have in store for our adventure but i do know i will miss you all loads and look forward to seeing you again next year!!

So enough of the heart to heart and on to the very 1st part of our trip.... making sure we get the B****y flight!!
With months of planning or lack of it seems, we got off to a slightly stressful start. With my alarm not going off and Laura telling me to go to terminal 4, i head on my way at 6am with no phone. Slight panic when i get to T4 to be told Virgin fly from T3! I reach the check in desk with no sign of Laura, no ticket and the lady telling me that the desk is closing in 15 mins. This is a reminder of the beauty of mobile phones, although i can not wait to be without one. I find a pay phone and call Laura, who is stuck in a traffic jam but thankfully arrives 4 minutes before closing.!!!
We rush through departures, with only a moment to spare to grab a Latte' and we're off................

CP

Posted by Peacocks 19:34 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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