Ok, bring on day 2 of our tour! Its difficult waking up without an alarm as I found out this morning. My roomie, K, tried to wake me up, but she’s far too polite and doesn’t insist I actually get up, so the result is that she’s ready for breakfast before I’ve even opened my eyes. I had no idea what the plan was for today; that how good our personal translators are, they tell us nothing.
First off, we stop by a river and do a short bamboo raft canoeing activity. There’s some women dressed in traditional outfits that get on the rafts with us and serenade us down the river. Gotta say, you wouldn’t find Chinese singing on my ipod ever – far too high pitched. They even got us to join in and sing along to the songs. And by ‘we’ I mean anyone who could read Chinese, so not me. The ride didn’t take all that long, but we each got a turn at paddling using the long bamboo stick to steer.
I’ve stolen mum’s phone for a few days. Re-learning how to function an iPhone is not ideal, but travelling and seeing wonderful places without being able to save the memories with photos is an unbearable thought. Today is the first proper day of our 4 day (shopping) tour of Guilin, China.
September 23rd 2014
A few days before we went to Guatape, I had met up with a guy from CouchSurfing called Andres for coffee and had invited Phil to join us. When I mentioned that we were going to Guatape that week, Andres immediately invited us to stay with his parents the night after, as his family home was half way between Guatape and Medellin. He didn’t even check with his parent first but we agreed and the day after staying in Guatape we set about trying to meet up with Andres. More…
September 22nd 2014
Skipping ahead to 6 days into my stay in Medellin, and Phil and I had decided to go to Guatape. Guatape is a cute little town about 2hrs bus ride away from Medellin. Everyone has been telling me its amazing and not to miss it. I’m not sure how Phil has caught up to me; he stayed 2.5 weeks extra in Bogota to study Spanish and I am yet to stop to take classes so it seems I am just making my way through Colombia incredibly slowly. Anyway, its nice to hang out with someone and not have to do the regular introductions: What’s your name? Where are you from? How long are you travelling for? Where are you going next? Where have you been? Etc It’s starting to get repetitive.
September 12th to 15th 2014
Round 2 at El Viajero Hostel in Cartagena put me into a room that had a balcony facing the street. Usually I get woken up by the morning sunlight streaming through non existent curtains or doors that don’t quite close properly. This morning I got the Colombian street version of the Lion King’s Circle of Life. One of the ladies selling fruit on the street had one of the most powerful voices I’ve ever heard, unfortunately it was at an inappropriate time of the morning. Imagine the opening vocals of the Circle of Life, and rather than whatever the normal lyrics are, replace them with the words of fruit: “Limoneeeees, Piñaaaa, manzanaaaaaa”. (lemons, pineapple, apple…)
September 6th to 9th 2014
There’s around 4 ways to get to Playa Blanca; the most common way go to the port near the clock tower and take a speed boat from there. When I asked the hostel reception, they only told me about this way of getting there and wouldn’t provide any useful information on the other 3 routes. Sometimes I feel like everyone here bands together to get the most amount of money out of the tourists; taking a boat from that port incurs an additional 13,500 peso port fee, on top of the 35,000 peso ticket, while none of the other routes are even close to that expensive.
September 4th 2014
Something about air conditioned rooms here; they can never seem to get the temperature right. The night before last, the room was freezing, then last night, some idiot had set it to 29 degrees and it had been blowing hot air all night. It was cooler outside than inside the room.
Today we decided to go to ‘Volcan de Lodo El Totumo’; a natural mud volcano just outside Cartagena. Once again the staff at this hostel proved useless. We asked the guy last night to leave a note for the morning staff to book us a morning tour. Charnie got up to inquire this morning and they had seen the note and chosen not to do anything about it.
30th August to 2nd September
When I got back from the Lost City hike I checked back into the hostel I had moved to the day before going. No sooner had I walking into the dorm, I heard someone scream my name. Charnie, a Perth girl I had met in Bogota, had been staying in the 8 bed dorm alone for a few days and was super excited to finally have some company. She had travelled over a year in Europe and had met up with one of her best friends to do 4 months in South America, arriving on the same day as me. Unfortunately though, her friend had met a Russian girl at this hostel and decided that he couldn’t live without her so had ditched Charnie to travel with the Russian, 3 weeks into their 4 month planned trip. How rude. So I convinced her to come chill with me for a few days at the beach in Palomino. I felt that after the hike I was in much need of some relaxing beach time.
The Lost City Trek: 26th to 29th August 2014
I actually wanted to do the trek the following week but when I enquired at the MagicTours office I was told that the indigenous tribes close off the area for 2 weeks for their yearly something or other…lucky I asked! Once again, no one at the hostel had bothered to mention this closure even when I said I was thinking about doing the trek next week.
I tried to be more prepared than normal and started packing for the hike the night before. I’m glad I did because I realised that I had left my only bikini hanging on a tree to dry at the hostel before last. Thankfully, it was only the next town across and they had it in lost property. So in the morning, rather than get picked up by the tour group at my current hostel, I had to taxi to the previous hostel then taxi back to the tour office. We were meant to all meet at the office at 9am but I found myself hanging out there until about 10 because everything moves so slowly here. When we eventually were herded to the bus, I had to run back to get the water bottle I’d somehow forgotten. Not sure how I keep forgetting things.
From where you’d rather be: on the Caribbean Coast. 21st and 22nd August 2014
The day got off to a slow start as we all sort of slept in and the girls from yesterday needed to grab some things from the shops. By the time we were waiting at the bus stop it was already 11 and half the day had gone already. Not that we were in any hurry but it would definitely be easier to be waiting by the side of the main road when it’s not the hottest part of the day.
The thing about buses here is that I’m never really sure when to pay; to the driver when you board the bus, to the driver when you get off the bus, or to the conductor who comes past your seat at some point during the bus ride.