Cartagena was stunningly beautiful, but incredibly hot and humid. It almost ruined it in a way, as we felt we couldn´t walk around during the day due to the heat. Once the evening breeze rolled in it was a different story, and we took the time to explore the city and to sit on the wall that encloses the old part of town. It was a very romantic little place, with lots of good food. It was expensive though, as it is a tourist destination. We celebrated my birthday with a huge sushi feast, which was the best sushi either of us has ever had. We got a full boat (40 rolls) of fresh, delicious, and unique sushi. Definitely was worth the splurge! (Pictures included in last post)
From Cartagena we flew down to Cali, in southern Colombia. We ended up spending 4 days here as we met some amazing people at our hostel (Pelican Larrys) who had been in Cali for over 2 months as they had each met Cali ladies-so it was nice having some locals to show us around! We went out salsa dancing one evening as Cali is the world capital of salsa dancing. Lets just say Chris and my dance skills were laughable in comparison to these dancers, just amazing. The bar had a huge tree in the middle of the dance floor and a rooftop patio, so it was a great atmosphere. Another evening we went to a mexican restaurant for margaritas.. that each had half a quart of tequila in them. Delicious..but dangerous. Chris did a hike the next morning up to a lookoff with 3 crosses, I chose to stay in bed. Lol. We then had McDonald´s (which was exactly as it is at home) delivered to the hostel. It was what dreams are made of. Canada needs to start delivering. We also visited a zoo in Cali, which was interesting as most of the inclosures were questionable at best. It added a certain element of danger thats for sure.
From Cali we backtracked a bit to Salento, which is the coffee region of Colombia. It was a beautiful little town with a relaxed atmosphere, tons of fresh coffee, and plenty of nature to explore. We did a 5 hour coffee tour with the owner of our hostel, and learned an amazing amount about the coffee trade. It made me realize how much goes into producing coffee, and how hard it is for small farms to make it. It also made me realize that the “highest” quality coffee sold in Canada is a blend from all of the different coffee beans produced from all over Colombia, all of the beans do not come from 1 farm which is what I had previously thought. We had 2 cups of coffee from the beans from the farm roasted and brewed right infront of us, it was probably the freshest cup of coffee we will ever have. We did a 5 hour hike in the Valley De Cocora which was lovely, it went through a cloud forest and overlooked the Valley, which contained wax palm trees. It was very beautiful, hard to describe in words. We got several pictures but then our camera died, boo. We will post more pictures soon! We also went to a lovely little spot called Betatown owned by a family in Salento that is aimed at providing entertainment and quality food to locals and tourists alike. Here we were able to try the game of Tejo (Colombias national sport), which is essentially washer toss with gunpowder. You throw a metal stone like object (the tejo) at a clay board that contains a metal ring in which the packets of gunpowder are placed. If you get the tejo to stick in the clay and are closest to the ring, it is 1 point. If you hit a packet of gunpowder and make it explode, it is 3 points. If you get it in the middle of the ring WITHOUT setting off any gunpowder, it is 6 points. And if you get it in the middle of the ring and make any of the gunpowder packets go off it is 9 points and the game automatically ends. Otherwise the first to 27 wins. We played with a dutch couple we met at the hostel and sweeped them 2-0 (graceful winners as always). As we won, we did not have to pay for anything! For a video check Betatowns website, and our video is one of the last uploaded. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Betatown/601112526579944 Not going to lie, I was really good at it. I am certain I am going to get called up to play on the Colombian´s Tejo team. (Chris agrees 😉
From Salento we took a minibus to Armenia, then boarded a night bus to the boarder town Ipiales. It was a 15 hour bus ride, but it was on a luxury bus so we slept like babies. From there we crossed into Ecuador and took a bus from Tulcan to Otavalo, which is where we are now. We can hear the collective sigh of relief from our parents that we made it out of Colombia without being kidnapped. On that note, I think everyone needs to put everything they have ever heard about Colombia aside and start with a fresh perspective. This country was absolutely amazing and I anticipate it is going to become one of the more highly backpacked countries in the world in the coming years. The people were extremely kind and welcoming (knowing spanish is helpful, english is not spoken in most areas), the landscapes were breathtaking, and the diversity is what sealed the deal for both Chris and I. The change from the North to the South, East to the West was mindblowing. If you want it all, Colombia is your ticket. If you are considering places to travel, in our opinon, Colombia should be high on your list.
We are staying in Otavalo until Saturday when there is the largest open air market in all of South America. We are hoping to buy some souvenirs as we didn´t buy a single thing in Colombia. The beauty of the market (we have been told) is the local indigenous people in their traditional dress with all of their handcrafted goods. We are excited! We shall post about it in our next update.
1 country down, 4 to go.
Update on Chris´s shoulder dislocation count: 1 full, 6 partial.
Chow! Much love!