Day in Medellin

Today, I woke up feeling like I’d slept a lifetime and was happy to have had a full night’s rest. I went to the grocery to get a little breakfast and had a fresh fruit juice with ginger and a pastry.

I then made my plan to go to the botero museum to see the artwork of the famous botero. He paints ‘voluminous’ people and objects and his works are really fun to look at.

I made my way to the subway and to the museum without any trouble and met another American at the train station. After a short chat, he ran his own business as well and was in online ecommerce and from the Bay Area. Small world! He’s here for several months because he wanted to learn Spanish.

The museum was great. I really haven’t been to an art museum where I was really looking at every single picture but this one I was. I’d actually wished the audio guide gave more info! All the works were donated around 2000 by Botero himself.

After the museum I went to get some food at the restaurant there. I texted with Andres and we set a plan to meet at 2. Right at 2 he arrived and I got into the car and we headed for the botanical gardens.

We walked around this beautiful park area, hung out with butterflies in the butterfly house, and enjoyed a pleasant walk through beautiful plants. We saw a lot if girls having photography done for their quinciñeras with nature as the beautiful backdrop.

We then left the botanical gardens and drive for Plaza Mayor and checked out the grounds there. They had a really amazing piece of machinery called ‘Airbol’ a play on the word tree in Spanish. It would take polluted air and transform it through am ionization process that removes all pollutants and spits out fresh air up to 80m away!

Afterward we went to Meet his cousin and uncle for an amazing Italian dinner. This was my first real meal since getting sick. My body completely soaked everything up, and I was so happy that my stomach agreed with everything.

After finishing our meal, Andres drove me back to my apartment and we called it a night.

Healing well!

I was happy to start feeling better, albeit very weak still but had a wonderful night sleep.

After a small breakfast, Andres came and parked at the apartment–my place came with a parking space! We walked to the metro station to check out the city by medellin’s spectacular metro system complete with trains buses and gondolas. We took the line all the way to the north and hooked up with the gondola that took us up a huge mountain. We then transferred to another gondola that took us into a beautiful national park called Arvi. It was so interesting to be riding this little gondola above jungle like land that led us to the park.

Once we arrived, we walked through the little marketplace. I felt like I was on survivor as I was extremely hungry yet had ‘lost’ a reward challenge and had to watch Andres devour fried potatoes, cookies, coffee and who knows what else. I had to walk away it was such torture.

I was feeling pretty tired at this point just from being up and about but it was a perfect excursion for the day because we could sit on the transit system yet see so much.

Once back home, I cooked the chicken soup wed picked up the night before and had such a great meal. It was this meal that have me the glimmer of hope that I was nearly done with the sickness in the stomach.

I watched the finale of survivor and the finale of homeland at night to relax (well, that show is tense!) and went to bed for another restful night.

Worst day ever

This morning, my plan was to go visit the Museum of gold in downtown Bogotá. My plan was foiled however when I spent the entire night getting up to the bathroom. By morning, I felt so weak and could not fathom the idea of taking a taxi two hours without a bathroom to downtown Bogotá. So I tried to rest more before our plane left at 2:45 PM.

At around noon, our taxi ride to take us to the airport. I was feeling very nauseous and could not eat much, so I was extremely weak trying to carry all my baggage to check in. After we checked in I felt even weaker and got nervous that I was not going to get any better anytime soon, so while we waited we called for the infirmary.

Finally after about 20 minutes, two guys appeared and started taking my blood pressure and asking questions about my past few days with my stomach trouble. They said that I was too dehydrated to get on the plane and that they needed to take me down to the infirmary and an ambulance to get rehydrated before I could even think about getting on a plane. This of course meant that we would miss our flight to Medellin.

When they brought me to the ambulance, I couldn’t believe what a horrible experience this was turning out to be. I’ve never had food poisoning or a bacteria this badly before. Once down in the infirmary I felt extremely weak and I was thankful that we waited on the people to come. They hooked me up to an IV, and let me lie there to rest for the next two hours. Andres went to see what we could do with our flights.

Andres then returned after and said that our flight had actually been delayed for two hours. I couldn’t believe the luck in our flight being delayed so we could still make the flight that evening.

After one bag of saline rehydration, I started to feel better. A doctor came in and she asked a lot of questions about what I had eaten and what exactly I was feeling. She then had said that my blood pressure was extremely low when the paramedics got to me. Luckily after being rehydrated my blood pressure had returned to normal and everything was fine.

I was then discharged wondering how much I would have to pay for an ambulance ride along with simple Celine solution to rehydrate myself, and the beauty of universal healthcare is that everything was paid for. They discharged me with a prescription for a couple of medications, and then we made our way to the gate for our flight to Medellín.

Once we boarded the flight we sat on the tarmac for another 20 to 30 minutes it seems due to congestion. I just point I was so anxious to get home to the apartment that I had rented on air Bnb. Once we landed just an hour later we taxi to the gate and sat for another 20 to 30 minutes waiting on a date to be prepared. We then waited at baggage claim to get our backpacks. After getting our backpacks we met with Andres’s aunt and we went to her car.

She was a lively Columbian woman with a great charisma. I was completely exhausted at this time, and I was so wanting to interact with her more because she seems so fun. On our way home we stopped to get food for me to bring back home to eat–a chicken soup. Finally after an extremely long and trying day we made our way to the apartment I have rented on air BNb.

The apartment is fantastic. It has a little kitchen a little living area and a bed in a studio form. The view is incredible. I’m on the 11th floor at the top of the building and overlook the entire city. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day after a good nights rest.


Last Day in Bogota

Today I felt so much better. Last night I was so sickly that I really wondered how I’d be able to continue on! But this is part of traveling and experiencing new foods and places.

Today I’d hoped to see the gold museum of bogota but after researching of course they’re closed on Monday :( that was the last hung I was hoping to see in bogota before heading to Medellin tomorrow.

So Andres and I went to the mall instead so we could use Internet. His friend Diana then came and picked us up for a late lunch at a smaller version of andres de res, a popular restaurant in town that has rave reviews. Unfortunately as I’m still getting better, I only ate a small patacone with chicken and mushrooms.

After our lunch, we walked around ‘la zona rosa’ which was a cute little area with bars restaurants high end shopping. We then made our journey through Bogotá traffic again back home.

An interesting factoid about Bogotá traffic is one of their ways of reducing traffic is that on even numbered days, they only allow cars with the last digit being even on the roads during rush hour. Apparently what this did was made everyone go buy another car that had a number that was opposite if what they currently owned. There’s always a way to breach the system!

Day to Zapaquirá for the Salt Cathedral

Today we got up and started our day by going to Bagatelle, a French inspired restaurant with a circus theme. Unfortunately, something I ate previous gave me a bout of food poisoning (now looking back) and my stomach had been pretty iffy the precious night. I knew something was indeed wrong when a delicious plate of eggs toast fresh orange juice and everyone else’s meals gave me no appetite whatsoever — and worse, it made me nauseous. I’d so been looking forward to the French toast that Sandra had described so it was a sad miss to not even be able to get through one egg.

The lack of eating set me up for a much harder day. Since we were up north in Chía, we planned to go to the salt cathedral in Zapaquierá. When we arrived andres wasn’t feeling so hot either, and I couldn’t help to laugh at what us 3 must have looked like. Sandra’s had a cough for a week now that’s incessant, andres was woozy, and I kept looking for a toilet.

We pressed onward and got to the top of the hill where you can start your descent into the tunnels. Once our tour started, we walked through beautifully lit tunnels that were covered in salt formations, stalactites hung above us as we made our way to the first station. It was a beautiful, interesting and religious feat to have created such amazing designs. They created 14 stations that signified each of the procession points of Jesus’ crucifixion and had alters and crosses made of stone.

At the bottom after passing through 14 stations, it was a humongous auditorium with beautiful acoustics. It was stunning to see the light coloring backing these beautiful crosses and designs. At this point I was probably feeling quite bad and weak since we had descended over 180meters underground, I was definitely feeling exhausted and sick.

At the end if the tour we continued to walk around and I was getting so queasy I went back up at the top to be near a bathroom and get some crackers and Gatorade. I couldn’t believe how fast I’d been hit with this, and it made me feel horrible.

After andres and Sandra made it out, we headed back down to the car. During the ride home I continued to get worse feeling really weak and shaky, along with chilled and pure exhaustion. We dropped andres off at his aunt’s and Sandra and I headed home.

We stopped to get a few items like the hydration drink for babies and some stomach stuff. We got home and I just wanted to take a quick nap as I could barely move anymore.

After my nap I felt better and then we cooked some ramen to get me something in my stomach. It was hard again to eat, but I pushed myself to have something in my stomach.

That night I hit the low point with sweats, and going back to the bathroom frequently, but after my body had decided it had gotten rid of anything and everything, I started to rest much better.

Full day of Bogota

Today we started out after breakfast to do a driving tour of Bogotá. Traffic has a new meaning here for sure. Although we only went short distances we were always tied up in congestion if traffic anywhere in the city.

We made our way to the neighborhood Candelaria to see some government buildings including all the ministries and the presidential palace. We couldn’t park anywhere so we were literally doing a quick look as Sandra drive another block around.

We then headed for Montserrate, the mountain point that looks over the entire city. After parking we took a gondola up for sweeping views of the southern part of bogota. What a huge city! Boasting 8 million people, it’s no surprise that traffic is a nightmare.

Once at the top of the mountain we wandered through an old church and the marketplace full of souvenirs. We then made our way to the back side of the mountain where a quaint French restaurant stood overlooking the city. A lot of proposals apparently go down here so ladies, if you’re ever invited to this restaurant, you may have a proposal awaiting on the other side of dinner.

We then headed back down the mountain to the parking lot where we started our trek to the countryside to a restaurant that is a traditional Colombian BBQ style. It reminded me of Rudy’s BBQ in the sense that you order the meat and sides you want and it comes out on a huge platter for you to take. The food was delicious. We had pork ribs, yucca fries, potatoes, steak, blood sausage, pork loin and guacamole. To top it off, their pastry area had quite the options and I found chocolate covered strawberry skewer to my liking.

After our huge meal we headed back and I got dropped off at the mall for some shopping and andres headed out with some Bogota friends. The mall was fun to see the different shops (and not so different–seriously, Taco Bell and forever 21?!) after some clothes shopping Sandra met up with me and we ate some food from Crepes and waffles (culprit of food poisoning??) and headed home to bed.

Beach day at Playa Grande

Today we wanted a relaxing day at the beach so after sleeping in, we had our breakfast and soon after, Cristina, andres’ aunt graciously offered to take us to Tagonga beach for the day.

During our drive we went on the outskirts of town and I learned another sad fact about Colombia. There is a rail system that transports minerals and such in the country, yet absolutely no public or passenger train system. The government really did a disservice to their country by making people immobile. And it made me realize how government is the failure or success of a country’s progress.

After taking the beautiful drive through a mountain pass to Tagonga, we headed for boats that would take you to beaches nearby. We took a quick 15 boat ride to Playa Grande, and found a spot on this less crowded beach. The sun was bright and the water a great cool temperature.

There were guys offering beach massages and after watching one, I decided that I’d give it a shot. I mean $7 for a 30 minute massage on the beach seemed like a great deal!

Lying on a mat directly on the beach, coconut oil was drizzled on my back and he massage started. The cool thing was as the sand blew around, it almost gave an exfoliant as well. The best part was after each rubdown, cool water was poured all over. It was so refreshing and after our huge hike, couldn’t have been better timed.

After spending several hours at the beach, we headed back in a boat to meet his aunt. We went back to their house and had a delicious spaghetti meal made by Feride.

Back to Santa Marta

After a horrible night of incessant winds, cold, and swinging back and forth in the hammock, I tried to salvage an hour or so by going upstairs and lying on the floor of the balcony of the hut. I got maybe a half hour before daylight broke. I headed down to the beach deliriously and looked for an open tent since not many people were around. I found one and like a hermit crab, took over my new house to get a little sleep. Sleep I did and that hour or two completely reset me for the morning.

I went over to the restaurant and the guys had all just sat down and we all balked about our horrible night of non sleep. After another bout of fun conversation we all got our things and the guys took off to do the hike up to pueblito and we headed toward Arrecife.

My legs were definitely sore on this one. We weaved again through beach towns and made our way to the last stop before exiting the park through another 45 minute hike through the jungle to the roads.

We took a van out of the park and got dropped off right where another minibus picked us up and took us straight to Santa Marta where we walked a few blocks to his aunts house.

Feride prepared a great spaghetti meal for us and after all the hiking I was ravenous. We ate a great meal and got cleaned up from our hike.

That evening, we headed to his other aunts house for dinner. They lived in a brand new place that was very cute. The aunt was so loving toward me despite us not really being able to communicate. She is a very talented artist and took us through her house showing us amazing pieces if creativity from carvings to paintings. I kept urging her that she definitely needs to sell her work :)

We continued the tour to the terrace outside and Andres pointed out a very sad thing. This lovely house and terrace had bars all over it. Windows I get, but I’d never seen an outdoor space covered in bars to prevent intruders. It felt like what I imagined South Africa’s homes to look like. While I haven’t seen one thing here that has made me feel unsafe, I understand Colombia’s history is riddled with violence, crime, and corruption.

We ended the night saying our goodbyes and Juan, andres’ cousin wanted us to go out. So we headed out for a night on the town by picking up 2 girls at their houses in the taxi and headed for a bar/club called La Puerta. It was very cute with colorful walls, an outdoor area covered by the leaves of a tree. Before we knew it, our group had grown to about 7 of us. It was fun to watch how everyone interacted.

Two of the girls were on their cell phones the entire time not being ‘present’ while others kind of rolled their eyes at their presence. It was funny to see that anywhere you go in the world, there are the same social situations that inevitably occur.

We then went inside to dance a bit. The music was mostly great and I wished we had places that did that type of Latin rumba music. The rhythms were so fun to dance to.

After our adventure out we took the girls back to their homes and headed back to andres’ aunt and uncle’s for the night.

Trip to Tayrona National Park

This morning we got up early to head out for our overnight excusion to Colombia’s natural jewel, Tayrona national park. After another delicious breakfast, we headed out to a bus that brought us near the park entrance to Calabazo.

We packed enough food and drink for one night and headed to the trail. We literally almost walked past the entrance because a woman wearing a nurse like uniform was helping a group of people. Once we noticed she was the entrance we paid out way in, one Colombian and one gringo (of course my price was about double) and we were on our way.

We headed up the trail and the previous night we had done some research on tripadvisor and saw that people complained about a lack of signage, but our first sign pointed us right in the direction of pueblito, the ancient city ruins that are still on the mountain.

The start was a little dark. It seemed like it would rain and the trail was a little damp and full of horse shoe prints. Soon the trail started to as end and we were definitely starting to feel the hike begin. After about a half hour or so of a pretty steep ascent I was definitely feeling the burn and heart rate. It was tough! Then all if a sudden we started to hear the rain begin and I was waiting to feel it. The canopy was so thick we didn’t even feel any rain. It was really nice and relaxing especially knowing we were staying dry.

After about another hour or so and the ups and downs of this mountain, we came upon a fork that lead us to pueblito. It looked like a little rest area that had been abandoned. We continued on and soon after we came up to a little hut that had a little girl was couldn’t have been for than 10 years old. She stood there next to a pile of mandarins like a perfect little shop owner and before we knew it she was offering coca cola, BEER and other drinks. I cracked up. Louisa seemed quite ready to serve us a refreshing drink but we didn’t need anything. We have her a 500 peso coin just for being there.

After we left Louisa, we saw the beginnings of the ruins as the area opened up and was really green grass with stone foundations and huts. We saw other hikers finally as well. We felt this was a perfect place to set up for lunch so sat down and got out the ham sandwiches we had prepared the previous night.

During our lunch, a guy passed us and was bleeding from his head. We asked if he was ok and apparently he slipped and came back to this area that had a building set up that perhaps had some first aid materials. This didn’t make me feel too confident on the next half if the hike!

After our delicious sandwiches (nothing can beat a simple ham and cheese sandwich), we started the next portion of this mountain climb in the jungle.

We saw a difference in the vegetation and humidity and the trail. As we wound through the jungle hearing birds chirping and pure silence, we came upon a pack of monkeys in the trees! They were jumping between the branches and playing around but all of a sudden a fight broke out and there was screaming and a lot of commotion. They swung from the branches and landed in other trees. It was so cool to see!

We then continued on the trail where finally we started to see the boulder part of this trail. This is where the descent began and climbing down rocks was really difficult. Some were slick, some moved, some had cliffs next to them. We were completely in the jungle at this point and there wasn’t a sound but of jungle life.

This part felt like it took forever. Although climbing up it seems like it would be impossible so I’m glad the route we took! Finally we descended to a flat area that was grassy, sandy, and full of palm trees. It was stunningly different from the jungle we had just traversed.

After weaving through this area, we finally arrived at our site for the time in Cabo San Juan. It was like the set of Lost. This secluded little community that had some huts and a shower area, laundry hanging and people walking around. We found our way to the restaurant and walked around the beach. The beach opened to this beautiful small bay that had a hut on top of a little hillside to the left, and the rocky coastline to the right.

We were told to get a hammock in this hut which had stunning views of the ocean and a full 360 degree view of the bay below. We were excited to secure one of these by waiting at the pay station to be first in line for the 2pm release of hammocks.

The rest of the afternoon I spent relaxing, waking around, and finding a boulder looking at the ocean to relax upon and do some yoga stretching and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

After relaxing a bit, I sat down next to an Australian named Ben and we started chatting about his journey coming to an end after almost a year of touring around the globe. A guy from New York, Chris joined our chat as well and Andres walked up.

We spent the entire evening chatting about topics from law to world travel to what we were eating throughout our trip. We had a lot of fun with everyone’s stories.

Beach Day at Rodadero

Today we slept in and had a nice breakfast prepared by the house maid. She is very sweet and has been with the family for many many years. After breakfast we got our stuff together for a beach day at Rodadero. The beach was pretty and apparently a place where the normal public comes to enjoy. It was nice to relax and enjoy the water and sun.

After a couple hours in the sun, we went to find some lunch and I had a paella of sorts. We sat on the beach and watched people and chatted. After a great lunch we headed back for a nap and got ready for andres’ uncle’s birthday dinner.

Tonight we will pack for our trip to Tayrona national park!