Follow by Email

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Salento & Cali Colombia

Medellin was awesome but I  had to leave otherwise I might not have ever left. I took off to a town called Salento in the Coffee Region of Colombia up in the mountains. It was about a 4 hour bus ride from Medellin from Terminal Sur. Got dropped off on the side of the highway  and then ran accross to where we were told the bus would pick us up. After waiting a few minutes we started to hike up the road.... In retrospect not a smart idea. As it was a 2 lane road with a ton of traffic as everyone was coming up here for the end of semana santa. I could feel the cars driving past as we hiked down the mountain in the direction we hoped was the right way. After about 30 minutes and 5 buses passing us which were full we were able to flag down a bus that had room for us. Very happy we did that because once we got to the bottom of the hill we started heading up and got stuck in traffic and if we were walking it would have taken a  lot longer than the hour and half we were told and more like 4-5 hours. Got into town which was nice and bunked up at the plantation house which is owned by Tim an Englishman and his Colombian wife. It was a nice place and amazing scenery. Was able to go up to the mirador which overlooked the valley and hung out in the plaza for a quite weekend in the mountains. Did a tour of the coffee farm that Tim and his wife own and learned how the process from the planting to the harvesting and selling until it gets into the cups at starbucks. Also Colombia exports all of their coffee so there isn't very good coffee left in the country. I now know why coffee is so expensive and the farmers are not the ons who are making the money. I took off from a stormy weekend in Salento and headed down to Cali planning to take a refresher spanish class and take some salsa lessons. I got to the Pelican Larry Hostel which was nice where I quickly made friends with some awesome people. I was told by the staff that I didn't need Spanish lessons that my Spanish was fine. I wasn't there on days when they offered salsa lessons eithere so I opted to do the next best thing which was to go eat and drink with some locals. I went out with my new friends for dinner and drinks, which then led us to buy a bottle of Aguardiente  and play drinking games before a night out of salsa and merengue dancing. We eneded up going out in Menga on a Monday night which ended up being a great time and stayed out till about 4 AM then came back and passed out for the morning. Then slept showered and repeated the next night. I then realized if I stayed in Cali this would keep going. So I packed my stuff and headed out that next day for a 17 hour bus ride to Quito. This bus ride turned into quite the adventure after getting stuck in Pasto because I was the only person left on the bus  going to Ipiales so they first told me the border was closed. I called bullshit and then they said it wasn't safe for me to go which I told them too bad. It was already 1 in the morning and I knew Pasto wasn't safe at night either. They then told me it wasn't cost effective for them to drive only one person to the border so I would have to catch the first bus in the morning and they gave me back 5000 Pesos enough for the bus in the morning and dropped me off at a hotel near the bus terminal. I crashed for an hour and a half and then got up and took off for the bus station and made it to the border. Then it gets interesting and that you will read about in my next update about Quito...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Medellin, Colombia

Medellin what a great place to experience so much. First and foremost everyone I've talked to since I've been in Colombia they have all been asking if it is safe in Colombia? Answer: Yes... but if you want to find trouble, like anywhere in the world, you will find it! So that is why I don't go searching for trouble. I look for good people and good times and I find them. Here are some things to do in Medellin if you decide to travel there, which you should. First off I stayed in Zona Rosa in Poblado which is where there are a ton of hostels, hotels and restaurants. A special shout out to Alejandro at Saman Hostel on Calle 10 y Carrero 36. One of the best hostels I stayed in during my whole trip. I took a trip up the Metro Cable to the favella and to the library there and then further up to the National Park up top which was very beautiful and had a great market with amazing food for next to nothing. I also went to Botero Square in El Centro at Parque Berrio which was really cool and had some cool sculptures. I alllso recommend hitting up Salsa Dancing on Tuesday or Wednesday nights in El Centro circa de Parque Periodista. The place was packed but it was a great time inside the bar and there was a party out on the street as well. If you do stay in Zona Rosa hit up the Medellin Beer Factory for some great Colombian Beer and some great Chicken Wings. From Medellin I took off for Salento that will be in the next update.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cuzco, Sacred Valley and Machu Pichu, Peru

Cuzco is high up there at 3,700 Meters which for you American's is above 12,000 feet. I definitely didn't acclamate well. I got altitude sickness the first 2 days and couldn't get out of bed. If you haven't had altitude sickness before count yourself very lucky because I  would not wish that upon anyone. After 2 days was able to get around town and left on a tour of the Sacred Valley which was incredible  and went to see some of the Incan Ruins which are massive and amazing to think they built these terraces and fortresses into the sides of these mountains  completely by hand. Some of the rocks we saw were incredibly huge which you will see from my pictures.  It is simply amazing. It is one of the most beautiful places I've been to in the world and will definitely go back one day. The next day did a city tour of Cuzco which included the Cathedral in the Plaza De Armas which had their own rendition of the Last Supper which had Cuy (Guinea Pig) as the main dish. Then took off to some ruins outside of the city which was very cool to see how they all depicted some animal that meant something in the Inka culture. Also got to see a sacrificial altar where they used to sacrifice llamas to the gods. Now onto Machu Pichu left on a 2 hour bus to a 2 hour train which was a beautiful ride through the sacred valley from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes which is the town at the base of Machu Pichu. From Aguas Calientes it is a 20 minute bus ride up the mountain. You then walk up a lot of steps and it will be one of the most amazing views you have ever seen. It is a very powerful place full of a ton of history and is a very Sacred Place as well. The pictures I took won't do it justice and I think everyone should go there to see how truly amazing it is. I will go back one day and actually hike the Inka Trail since I opted not to do that this time. Who will join me on that adventure?

Machu Pichu Pictures

Cuzco & Sacred Valley Pictures