A Travellerspoint blog


Manizales - May 29, 2013

From Kasilof, Alaska - July 7, 2013


I arrive in Manizales after Salento, on my way back to Bogotá. The city is part of the Coffee Growers Axis, called Eje Cafetero, along with Armenia and Pereira. Manizales is a city of coffee production and higher education.

The city is rainy, cloudy, built onto high hills with narrow winding streets. I am alone here.

In my hostel I decide to hike to the Nevado de Santa Isabel volcano, the sister of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano that is currently spewing ash. I am unprepared for this hike, having left much of my gear in Bogotá. I hike in shorts. The summit of the volcano is a massive field of ice, shrouded in fog and freezing cold. The guide and I wait in the crazy as the third member of our party, a crazy man from Israel ascends into the mist to cover the last several hundred meters to the summit.

We eat lunch at the house of a farmer in the mountains. A woman serves agua de panela, (hot water with cane sugar), homemade cheese on bread, and a rice based soup while we sit and play with her child.








Posted by cazvan 16:54 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Salento - May 26, 2013

From Kasilof, Alaska - July 7, 2013


My days in Salento are filled with coffee and mountain biking along hills of coffee plantations, called fincas. The coffee here has a medium body, somewhere between Kenyan and Guatemalan coffees, and a rich and fruity finish.

I hiked the Valley de Cocora, filled with was palms, the largest in the world. I met a long haired opossum and a group of biology students from Armenia, Colombia.

I had to save my friend from a cockroach on the water cooler in our hostel.

I did not buy the hat.








Posted by cazvan 17:48 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Bogotá, Colombia - May 23, 2013

From Kasilof, Alaska - July 7, 2013


I stayed in the old section of Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, in an area called La Candeleria. The Anandamayi Hostel is one of the nicest of my trip. Manicured plants filled courtyards surrounded my hammocks, Eastern art decorated the walls, and the beds were handmade. Even the showers were hand tiled.

Blocks from my hostel lies the main plaza of the city, Plaza de Bolivar, bordered by the Palace of Justice, National Capitol, seat of the National Congress, the Mayor's residence, and Primary Cathedral of Bogotá.

In 1985, 35 political militants from a group called M-19 took control of the Palace of Justice. They demanded a trial against the President, who may have been elected fraudulently. Three hundred people were taken hostage. On the second day, the army stormed the building. One hundred people died, including half of the Supreme Court.

Fifty-thousand people were murdered in Colombia in 1991 and 1992. In 1993, Pablo Escobar, the most powerful drug lord in Colombia, was killed in Medellín. His death lead to a fracturing of power in the cartels.

I speak of this recent violence in Colombia because the country has changed. The country feels fresh, especially Medellín, there is public art, people are kind and focused and present. I do not know if these impressions are my subjective bias, but I would imagine living through extreme violence would effect a person somehow.

I took a bike tour with a new friend from Massachusetts. It rained the entire time.






Posted by cazvan 17:13 Archived in Colombia Comments (1)

Medellin, Colombia - May 17, 2013




Botero is one of Colombia's most famous painters and sculptors. He favors what he calls "volume" in his work. He is still alive and donated most of his art work and private collection to museums in Colombia.

Medellin is warm and welcoming. I immediately felt like I could live here for at least 6 months. The city has had a rough history. It was the headquarters for Pablo Escobar, the drug kingpin that seems to be largely responsible for Colombia's violent and drug riddled reputation. But he is dead, and Medellin feels fresh and lively. There is an excellent metro and metrocable system, lots of public art (buildings were made to contribute a portion of their budget to artwork) and good weather.

I took salsa classes with a tiny woman named Paula. I more lessons scheduled for my last day in the city, but Paula did not appear.

The first picture is a cup of salted mango for $1. Delicious.

Posted by cazvan 11:21 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Playa Blanca, Cartagena, Colombia - May 15, 2013




Return boat trip from Isla Grande to Cartagena, with a three hour stop at Playa Blanca. Beautiful beach, too many people. I found a nice cove at the south end of the beach past some rocks and hung out with the crabs.

The boat I caught from Isla Grande was a hotel tourist boat. The people screamed at every wave and every splash in their bright yellow life jackets. I made friends with a lady from Chile. It was good fun.

Posted by cazvan 10:01 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Isla Grande, Colombia - May 14, 2013






A two hour boat ride to Isla Grande and La Casa de Carlos, a "hostel" on the 700 person island (the size of Kasilof). The smell of red snapper cooking over his fire greeted me and my two Chilean friends. After lunch, we took a swim and a canoe ride through the mangroves to the village. At the village, we had pizza. We returned by canoe through the mangroves at night. The phytoplankton in the water glowed blue at any disturbance. Imagine a meter square of thousands of blue LED lights at every stroke of the paddle. I spent the ride tapping my paddle on the mangrove roots, agitating the the water and igniting the plankton.

The next day, snorkeling on the coral reef on the other side of the island. My first time. Watching fish, crabs, and a color and texture changing octopus.

Carlos has been living on the Island for 15 years. He is a painter and guide. I took a hotel chartered boat back to Cartagena the next day.

Posted by cazvan 09:46 Archived in Colombia Comments (2)

Cartagena, Colombia - May 13, 2013




Cartagena, Colombia. The Heroic City. Built to house Spanish treasure extracted from inland native civilizations. Looted by pirates (inc. English privateer Francis Drake). A wall was built around the city, a fort too. The fort worked, it was never taken.

Caribbean culture. Fruit, chicken, seafood. Sunshine, hot weather, beaches, waves, and palm trees. Sweating all the time.

Posted by cazvan 08:26 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

A Guide to Crossing Ecuador, from Lima, to Popayan, Colombia

A Guide to Crossing Peru/Ecuador/Colombia borders safely and easily. May 12, 2013

sunny 75 °F






Left Lima, Peru, May 9 - Oltursa Bus Company, 4:30pm (115 soles)

Arrived Tumbes, Peru May 10, 2pm
Border crossing- collectivo (2 soles) to migrations, walked to Ecuador through hectic Tumbes

Took a taxi to Ecuadorian migrations (didn't need to go to Peruvian customs first, they check out out at the same place) and taxi back to CIFA bus terminal for US$7 (Ecuador uses USD$, but with their own coins)

CIFA bus to Tulcán, Ecuador, May 10, at 4pm for US$20

Arrived Tulcán May 11, at 11am (bad traffic in last hour)

Taxi from the station (US$3.50) then walked to Ecuadorian customs, crossed to Colombian customs, then took a collectivo from there to the terminal in Ipiales, Colombia (10min, 1000 Colombian pesos)

Left Ipiales on a Supertaxi Company 2pm bus for C$25,000 (really left at 2:30), supposed to be 8 hours to Popayan

Arrived Popayan 12:30am, May 12, 2013 - 80 hours since leaving Lima

Took taxi (C$4500) to Parklife Hostel

My friend Colombia accompanied me, which granted considerable ease to m passing. We played chess on iPad, and ate exotic fruit.

Today marks exactly two years of the "No Parking" blog.

Posted by cazvan 00:51 Archived in Colombia Comments (1)

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