Departing Cali tomorrow, heading South

I will be on a bus most of the day tomorrow.  Will board bus at Cali bus station, will be heading towards Ipiales, which is the Southernmost town in Colombia on the bus route. It is the ‘border town’ between Colombia and Ecuador.  The bus journey will take about 12 hours. I like to ride in the daytime so I can see the scenery passing by my window. Have checked out the accomodations at the end of the route. Will be spending tomorrow night (Sunday, Dec 1st) in Ipiales.

On Monday morning, I will get a cab from the town that will drop me directly at the border crossing. After having my passport stamped having exited Colombia, I will then walk across the bridge (crossed this bridge on foot five times at 3AM upon my last return) to the Ecuadorian immigration offices and officially enter that country.  After those items are complete I will get a cab to Tulcan, which is about 4km from the border crossing.

Plan to have a brief look at the topiary gardens there. (http://www.socialphy.com/posts/travel-leisure/17022/Tulcan_s-Topiary-Garden-Cemetery.html) After visiting the garden, I then plan to mount another bus and get off in either Ibarra or Otavalo. Will decide tomorrow night. Depends on how I feel and how long the border crossing takes.

Am feeling much better than when I arrived in Cali.  The breathing issue is under control, now that I have an inhaler.  Have gotten a few good nights of sleep. (excepting, of course, the young folks returning from salsa clubs in the very wee hours)

As always, sad to say goodbye to many folks I met here, but glad to have met them.

Barrio San Antonio, Cali On the street in Barrio San Antonia, Cali

I would describe the San Antonio neighborhood of Cali as kind of like New Orleans before Katrina, only without the Mississippi river, it’s unique history, and the Cajuns. (OK, I concede; it only has the ‘feel’ of a Latin New Orleans)

It is similar to Nola because all of the great restaurants, music clubs, and the presence of all manner of artists. There are small boutique art galleries and small clubs  along the narrow streets.

Went to a (live) comedy club last night. Didn’t understand the whole routine but I did get that it was about how people who speak different languages and come from different cultures, and therefore, don’t understand the specific idiosyncracies therein,  are in a kind of culture vacuum, even when they really try hard to understand one another.  It does make for some comedic moments. The comedian ‘polled’ the audience and found out the different places that were represented. I know he made a joke in reference to Colombians not completely understanding Ecuadorians. The audience laughed. Barrio San Antonio is home to at least one university, lots of intelligent, artsy folks around here.

Had a nice meal at a restaurant with outdoor tables covered with sunbrellas. The name of the restaurant was ‘Lingua de mariposas’ … literally the tongue of butterflies. I think it means loosely, the ‘language of butterflies’.  American jazz music was playing through the speakers, giving it the effect of a cozy jazz joint. One of the walls inside was dedicated to the words of a local, Colombian writer.  On another wall, very artfully done were the following words: ‘No se la Muerte de frio’.  I asked the waitress if she knew what it referred to. She was in her early twenties.  I told her in my imperfect Spanish that I thought it referred to a period of jazz known as ‘cool’.  Not really sure if that’s what it meant, but, that’s what I made it mean. (this would probably be fodder for the comedian that I had seen earlier)

Had 12 arepanitas  (tiny arepas… deep fried, filled pocket breads) served with with four kinds of different sauces, two cups of hot chocolate, and a cup of strawberry ice cream. Total bill came to about 5 bucks.

Hoping for another good night’s rest so I can be ready for my long journey tomorrow.

May post tomorrow night, but only  if there is internet at the hostel.

 

Meditation: Cultivating awareness of ‘The Flow’

I write these words from my current luxurious quarters in Cali, (self proclaimed Salsa capital) overlooking the pristine pool, under the bamboo shed roof. Beneath my computer is sprawled a large map of South America, the Amazon basin, in particular. Under my left elbow is a 1993 map of the country of Ecuador. I have gathered these icons to cultivate a deeper level of awareness of my impending adventure.

The photo above is of the Rio Napo, which flows into the Amazon

Have scoured the internet for posts of people who have done the ‘boat’ journey as far as Iquitos. One of the denizens of the hostel, a Michael, from Australia, reported to me just this morning of his journey from Leticia, Colombia to Iquitos, Peru (upriver) aboard a ‘fast boat’.  His boat got him from Leticia to Iquitos in about 12 hours. Other cargo vessels (probably what I will take) do the same journey in 3 days.

I will first be going from Iquitos to Leticia (downriver). On my ‘return’ trip, Leticia to Iquitos, (upriver).  Not sure how far I will go before reversing my direction (upriver) back to my starting point. May go as far as Manaus, Brazil before heading back upriver.  Undecided at this moment.

Have only a few options from which to launch the ‘boat trek’ down the Amazon if I wish to begin as close to the Eastern slope of the Andes as I can; which I do.

Peru: There are two such ports in Peru:  Pucallpa (down the Ucayali) and Yurimaguas (down the Maranon). Both of the above rivers flow into the Amazon.  I use the word ‘down’ as a simple means of referring to:  going in the direction of the river’s flow.

Ecuador: One port is Misahualli, and further down the Napo river, the port of Coca. I have read of,  heard of, and met others who have negotiated that route.  On my map, I see that there is a relatively new road/track that leads from the town of Puyo that appears to intersect with the Rio Curaray. The road ends near that juncture. The Curaray flows into the Napo, which flows into the Amazon.

Interesting sidenote: My 1993 map of Ecuador shows that the town/cities of Jaen, San Ignacio, and Iquitos are parts of  Ecuador; not Peru.   Ecuador ‘lost’, or gave up, (depending on your frame of reference) about a third of it’s territory in negotiations that signaled the culmination of the longest lasting territorial dispute in the America’s. For those of you who care about such things here is a starting point:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Ecuadorian%E2%80%93Peruvian_territorial_dispute

I envision a world where there are no borders. The need for separate ‘political identities’  being designated by  artificial, arbitrary lines on a map are no longer necessary nor even beneficial to humans.

When we were first presented with the picture of earth from a spacecraft that was capable of giving us that perspective, we were presented with a picture much closer to what is so. There are no artificial, arbitrary, imaginary lines drawn on the actual planet. There is only one big blue sphere, in an orbit around our local star (OR: ALL spheres are simply the effect of vast galactic electromagnetic forces, we don’t really know)

Upon the surface of that beautiful blue sphere, plants and animals, (and other ‘creatures’) exist.

We are but elements of a symbiotic relationship. We are ‘part’ of a MIRACULOUS WHOLE.

It is from that context that my adventures and explorations extend.

Completed another trip around the sun aboard spaceship earth!

Thanksgiving day Nov 28, 2013, 7PM, Cali

Today I rack up another full circuit around the sun since my current form exited my mother’s womb. That event took place in Cleveland, Ohio at 3:30PM (for those of you who may be interested to keep track of such things).

Today I find myself in the company of some very lively young folks from all over… Germany, England, Brussels, France, Australia, Estados Unidos, Spain, Argentina, Colombia, and I am sure a few others. These are twenty to thirty something folks who are out exploring the world. The ‘economic woes’ do not seem to have put much of a damper on these folks getting here. This place is packed.  They come and they go. Most stay for fewer than three days and they move on to other cities, towns, countries.

Met some folks from London yesterday. Hello/Goodbye to Lydia and Luke. Luke studied architecture and was surprised to learn that I knew a great deal about Buckminster Fuller. He was amazed to hear of my dome exploits. Luke spent some time inventing his own very unique laminar dome shape/structure. He made a working model.  Lovely couple.

P1000068Here is a picture of  the bamboo shed roof that covers tables and a bar (to the right)

Have noticed that my posts seem too long. Will make an effort to keep the length of each entry to 500 words or less, so long as I am posting daily. I may shift and change my habits around this as the internet service may get a bit iffy when I get on the river. I will then send my ‘I’m OK’ message with the Spot device, whenever I’m in between internet connections. If I find myself posting less than daily I will allow myself a few more words per post.

This is all situation dependent, of course.  Even though every day is an adventure unto itself. Some days are bound to be filled with more interesting tales than others. To say nothing of the various mood levels that I will be experiencing.  Writers report that if you are to maintain the discipline, then you need to write every day… no matter ‘how you feel’.  This is a good medium in which to practice that.

Thank you for being my audience. Every writer/artist needs to feel as though he/she is actually communicating with someone.

I miss everyone back in NH.  I miss the turkey. Maybe I ‘m not there in the flesh but we are united.  I am some kind of a link between EVERYONE with whom I connect. You are ALL part of my family.

Intercultural note:  Watched a newscast from England.  One report was from Plymouth NH. The owner/manager of the Sears outlet there is outraged that newly instituted ‘corporate policy’ now require her to be open on Thanksgiving day.  She is not going to do it, standing on ‘community standards’ grounds. Court battle ahead.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

DCIM100SPORTAbove photo was taken last May in Quito. It is a motorcycle/truck beer delivery vehicle.

Am experiencing motorcycle ambivalence.

Met two gents traveling by motorcycle at the hostel. One, from Barcelona with a fabulous tricked out Yamaha  and a new arrival from Australia, riding a Suzuki enduro.  The man from Spain is heading North. The Aussie, heading South.  We chatted and exchanged tales of the road a bit. Apollo, from Barcelona left this morning heading for Cartagena, where he plans to locate a sailboat that will take he and his bike to Colon. Many bikers prefer this route/method of crossing the infamous ‘Darien gap’ to other options.

There I am seeing these dudes with their bikes, and I start to get a bit envious and nostalgic and then I think about the border crossing ordeals and I remember that biking through Central and South America has it’s drawbacks. I console myself, secure in the knowledge that I’ve ‘been there, done that’. Finally I give up my ennui and decide to be content with wishing my fellow ‘hermanos de motos’ all the best. Buen viaje, amigos.

More bikini clad ladies around the pool this morning.  Hard for me to just casually saunter by without noticing.  I do my best to not ogle.  Barring that, I am committed to  ogling sideways only. I need some sunglasses.

It's good to be the  king

It’s good to be the king!

I organized my gear a bit, changed bunks in the same room, got one closer to the door so as to disturb my fellow roomie’s less with my up and down nightly behavior.  Added a few more days to my reservation here.  Gave my imminent trajectory some thought.  I like to walk through the day of departure in my head so as to keep any surprise factors to a minimum.

With the above in mind, I mounted a local private bus service to the main bus terminal in Cali. In many C. and S. American towns, it often happens that there are more than one ‘major’ bus terminal. Sometimes there is a North terminal and a South terminal or just different terminals for catching buses to different destinations.  I wanted to get first hand knowledge of the layout  of the terminal with some time to just walk around not bothered with minding my gear (which remained safe at the hostel).  No problem getting to the station.

Located the bus services that go toward Ecuador and one that has through service all the way to Quito.  The ‘international’ bus only  departs twice a week and it departs at 4 AM. The other option is to take a Colombian bus that is not ‘authorized/licensed’ to cross borders. That kind will only go as far as the border town itself. Got the needed info and will spend a few hours pondering my options.  Had a bite to eat at a restaurant in the terminal while watching a TV monitor with news reporters  in Havana, Cuba at the ‘peace talks’ — ‘La Paz’ between the Colombian government and the farc forces. There were images of men in the jungle toting AK’s in full combat gear, sporting fatigues… transposed with images of men in suits at conference tables, from Cuba.  Interesting way for a gringo to have lunch.

Around  3PM, I tried to get on a bus to go back to my hostel. I say tried because even though I took careful note of the bus that dropped me and I asked if that bus returned to the place that I boarded… when I attempt to find the bus I was met with a host of difficulties.  One, I found a bus with the name/number that I was looking for and got on and then asked if it went to San Antonio (the barrio where the hostel is) and the driver shook his head no and pointed in another direction. Now, if my Spanish skills were nothing short of excellent, which they are not, I might do a lot better at this process. As it is, I am forced to muddle through.  Strange city (over 2 million strong). Hugely different mass transit process. Some ‘private buses’, some ‘municipal buses’.

Understand, I could have just got in a cab. That is what I did when I first arrived. I wanted to gain this new knowledge. Sometimes you can learn quite a bit by muddling through on the local buses. So, you might make some mistakes… find yourself in a place that you were not really going… etc. If you make sure that you do this in the daytime (would not recommend doing this at night)  you can see and learn quite a lot.

I found that I was directed ‘back and forth’ across the terminal to catch a bus going to San Antonio.  The problem is magnified not only by the language issue but by the simple reality that even the local folks do not always know the correct bus.  It’s not that they are actually trying to misdirect you (although this may occasionally happen) it is more a matter of them wanting to be helpful, but not actually knowing themselves.  So, you can see that all this is actually just a part of Rik’s adventure.

Wound up asking cops, security officers, bus station attendants and in the end found myself on a new municipal bus.  Had to walk through an underground tunnel to the other side of the street, walk over an overhead pedestrian walkway over another road before finally arriving at one the municipal bus stations.

The municipal buses  only travel in special lanes and have special ‘paradas’ (bus stops) in the middle of the road. The municipal buses almost never drop anyone curbside of a road, although they  occasionally do that too. You have to KNOW your route. (Did I mention that I do NOT know my route?)  By the end of my adventure I had been misdirected twice. Had to reverse my route completely, returning to and getting off at the same station I originally boarded… asked more folks… and finally got the right info and was finally on the right bus.

Even though I was on ‘the right bus’ this time, there was another out of the ordinary wrinkle.   I was lucky enough to be sitting next to a lady who assured me that this bus was going to go through San Antonio. About 5 minutes into this trip there was a uniformed man in the middle of the street waving his hands wildly and who got the driver’s attention and who spoke some agitated words to him… and off we went again. The lady said that we were going to take another route from the normal one because there was some ‘bad trouble’ of some kind on the normal route.

She assured me that this was not an every day occurrence, but sometimes happens. She was communicating back and forth with the driver in my behalf. She pointed out the stop where I should dismount the bus and gave me brief instruction about the direction I should proceed.

This big blue municipal bus that usually only drops people at the special prescribed stops opened it’s doors and let me out curbside. The bus took off. I  thanked the lady and waved as the bus pulled away.  I walked a few blocks and sure enough, I began to recognize the neighborhood. I was able to walk directly to the hostel no problem.

Stay tuned for more exciting tales…

Uploads inroads outmodes and overloads

It's good to be the  king

Inroads– As you can plainly see, I am applying my diplomatic skills in a manner that befits a man of my stature.  That’s me with my feet in the pool surrounded on all sides by nubile, international, bikini clad chicas.

Uploads– Hey, I did it! My first uploaded picture to any blog ever!  Now that’s a little progress. This was my primary goal for the day.

Outmodes– I guess that to be a ‘modern human’ requires one to not be sitting on ones hands. No sooner than when we become accustomed to some new gadget of modern technology, (‘ was going to get a new zing phone from zapple made in central east pre prussia, but then I found out that they don’t make them in fuscia or puce’) or fashion in dress or look, (‘hey man, what do you think of my new toe piercing’ … ‘I just got a tattoo on the inside of my left ear’) or  speech, (‘shiny’)  or even way of perception, (‘it’s those goddam left handed blonde siberian hermaphrodites emigrating to linguanaland that are causing all the problems’) just then something NEWER comes along and… whammmo!  we are required to adapt to the ‘new’ thing, which requires more research, more decisions, more attention, more time.

Fuck it, dude, let’s go rafting.  Bowling is sooooooo yesterday.

Overloads– Apart from achieving the goal of actually uploading a picture to this blog, my next major goal of the day is to get rid of a congested schnozola. Slept better last night than the night before (thanks to my new inhaler) but was troubled by a stuffy nose. The kind that makes you breathe through your mouth. You know the rest. Dry mouth, sneezing and tossing and turning.

Decided to cool my heels poolside while checking out the chicas. I could do worse.  The Amazon will be there next week… and the next.  I will move on when these minor (but annoying) discomforts subside.

Hope all is well where ever you may be.

 

New terrain means coping with new pollens

Monday, 4PM, El Viajero hostel, Cali

Spent most of yesterday juggling files from computer  and new camera to new 1tb hard drive.  By the time I was finished, six hours had passed. At least I had had the benefit of the pleasant sights and sounds around and in front of me.

When I wrapped up all my clumsy gear;  charging cords, computer, card reader device,  usb cords for hard drive and for card reader device, I was tired.  I had emptied a 16gb sd card onto the hard drive. On the computer it indicates that there is 14gb available empty space on the card. When I installed the card into the camera I was not pleased to see that there were still vids on the card and that it seemed like there was not nearly 14gb of empty space. I don’t get it. Do I have to ‘reformat’ the card or something?  Did I screw up something by deleting ’empty folders’? Should I have just emptied the files, not the folders? Mystery to me.

The weather turned  a little last night. It got overcast and sprinkled a little. It is normal for there to be afternoon showers here, followed by clearing. The temperatures range from 80 something to 50 something in fahrenheit.

A few minutes from the door to the hostel is a shop that vends a few food items.  Last night, I opted for a couple of arepas.  These are like a cross between a burrito and taco, but deep fried on the outside for flavor. Inside the pocket is beef or chicken or egg depending on your choice. I got the beef.  I always put a little picante sauce on items like this. Very tasty. Very filling. At a buck and a half apiece they are a bargain.

Laid my body down on my lower berth bunk about 10PM. Began to notice that my breathing was not optimal. I had asthmatic symptoms. I had noticed in previous journeys to Central and South America that I am subject to these occasional attacks. I had an inhaler. The medicine is called either ventolin or salbutol.  The inhaler I had was unfortunately empty.

Laid on my bed panting for air and did my best to not disturb my fellow roomies.  Got up every hour on the hour all night long. Did not get any real sleep. Rest, yes, sleep, no. About 8 AM, I walked about a block away to a pharmacy. Learned later that it is open 23 hours every day (closed from 7 to 8 AM).  Immediately put the inhaler to work, right in the pharmacy after paying for it.

As a child I got asthma regularly.  Am told I almost died at age 2 from it. Was placed in an ‘iron lung’.  I remember suffering greatly around ages 8 to 14. Then the symptoms seemed to get less and less. Living in NH for 34 years I can not recall ever having to use an inhaler.

My anecdotal report is that my body has not adapted to the new pollens to which it is now being exposed. My hope is that I will continue to adapt. One thing is for sure. I will now make sure that I have an inhaler that is not empty or nearly so.

Met a motorcyclist traveling from Ushuaia (tip of S. America) enroute to Alaska.  He’s from Barcelona and plans to bike the world before he’s done. He’s riding a Yamaha 650 dual sport, decked out with all the goodies. He’s even got heated hand grips. Boy, I could have used those a few times on my previous jaunt. I offered a few tips as he is heading North. Biker etiquette is to just tell of your experiences and leave it at that. He’s going to have HIS journey, just like I had MY journey.

That’s how it is with all of us.

Travelers (Viajeros in Spanish) and long journey motorcyclists notice that we are consciously exposing ourselves to new things all the time. That’s the whole point. We learn more about different terrains, different foods, different music, different emphases from different localities. We also learn a lot about ourselves.  That may be even more important.

What may be closer to an accurate description is that all humans are immigrants. All humans migrated from one place to another from our very origins. We continue that process to this very day.

If we think of the image of earth from space, we cannot detect any single human being. (I know that technologies now exist that makes that possible). The image I am talking about is the ‘big picture’.  The blue ball with the cloud cover scattered here and there.  No borders. One earth.

If we click to a closer magnitude we see less of the ‘whole’ and we begin to see ‘parts’ of the whole.

What I like to contemplate is that humans are only one ‘part’ of the ‘whole’. We exist as individual parts in a field of ‘wholeness’.  When I contemplate this, I contemplate the idea of no separation. In those terms, I, my individual self, is an integral part of the whole.

We are all part of an ever changing series of events.  What I am composed of came from this background unfolding of processes and can never be truly ‘separate’.

We are ‘one thing’.  Perhaps more telling is that we are ‘one process’… unfolding simultaneously.    We are part of a mysterious ‘whole’ and perhaps it is ever so.

Till next time, dudes and dudettes

Golly, Golly, I’m in Cali…

Sunday 11 AM – El Viajero hostel –

Hola! This hostel is nearly full. Different people come and go on a regular basis. There is a new contingent of folks in my 10 room dorm. Japanese. They nearly always travel in packs. This pack consists of 2 couples.  Other dorm mates are Brits and Germans.

The Japanese and myself were the first ones up this AM to get to the breakfast  that is included as part of this hostel’s lodging scheme.  Breakfast buffet is available from 8 to 10 AM. Arrayed on the bar near the pool in separate insulated push top carafes are hot coffee and hot milk. In Colombia and other parts of S. America, many people mix their coffee with hot milk, half and half. There are many that prefer their coffee black… as elsewhere. Next to the carafes are  pitchers full of cold milk and one of liquid yogurt, a basket of slices of fresh sweet bread, a plate of sliced fresh mango, two party size bowls filled with corn flakes. Next to these items are utensils, small plates, bowls and coffee cups.

Sunday mornings start a little slow at most hostels that cater to 20/30 something international clientele. They tend to be well educated, in between course work or done with it, taking a breather, or between jobs. They mostly tend to be just out for a ‘good time’.  Usually (as one might expect) this includes looking to hook up with fellow travelers for intimate moments either frivolous or tinged with hope for ‘a future’. In any case, there is much imbibing of alcohol and hence, the slow Sunday start.

Saturday night was (surprising to me) much quieter than Friday night. Friday night I was wakened at least 3 different times by various groups of revelers re entering the hostel. Usually, they are very inebriated and have little regard for the volume of their voices. Friday night a group that was leaving early flipped on the lights in the room and began rummaging around for their gear. This was at 5AM.

Last night was quiet. I went to bed around 10PM hoping to get some sleep expecting a repeat or worse. It never happened. Nice. Got some real sleep.

At this moment I am sitting at a picnic style table facing the pool. Overhead is a 20x35foot shed roof made with large bamboo poles and sheathed by bamboo slats. The roof is supported by artistically arranged bamboo poles. There are two trees that project through the roof, one of which serves as the center of a tall round bar table surrounded by wooden bar stools. There is music playing. A mix of techno pop, and Latin Salsa. It is a tad bit loud (for me).  The bar is not open. The breakfast buffet is completely cleaned up and absent.

Most of the people I see are sitting around staring at their smart phones or tablets. These devices are ubiquitous. It is clear that this current generation of international humans are going to be ‘relating’ as much to the electronic screens they hold or place themselves in front of as they are to the actual, living, breathing human beings around them.

Nature demands that one must adapt to the conditions of one’s environment. Adapt or become irrelevant, uninteresting, and/or dead.

On that note, I will now transfer many of my photo and video files from this computer and from my camera’s SD card to a newly acquired 1 TB portable hard drive. My intention is to give some time, energy and attention to these things such that I can develop the skills to manipulate the stored, frozen images, both still and moving that constitute moments of my adventures.

Why people are interested in experiencing someone else’s past moments is a question I will leave to those who are.  My (current, self-appointed) job is to record an inventory of my adventures/experiences and to arrange them in entertaining and interesting ways.

 

Boston to Medellin to Cali

I am keying this entry as I am sitting on the lower bunk of the 10 beds in my room.  Outside the room there are several 20 and 30 something folks, in a various assortment of male and female bodies. Many of the female forms are clad in bikinis and are arrayed on outdoor lounge chairs which surround the pool. One can hear German, English (various accents), and Spanish in conversations at all hours of the day.

My son dropped me at Logan airport in Boston at 3AM, 20th of November. It was cold. Went immediately to the Spirit air service counter to check in. For some strange reason (now known) I could not check in online. Usually you can pre check in online and then get your boarding passes printed.

The sleepy man at the counter stared at his computer terminal and informed me that I needed to show him documentation that I had a bus ticket or lodging reservations in a country other than Colombia (my ticket’s destination) or my ticket would have to be changed. Understand, that the online reservation went through without a hitch. Problem was that my return flight was beyond six months of my outbound flight.  A no no… unless you can prove you don’t intend to be staying in your inbound country for longer than six months.

OK I guess that sounds ‘reasonable’. I ask the attendant  why the online reservation went through and did not inform me of this.  He shrugged. I said I’d be OK for him to change the return flight to just under six months if that is what was required for me to get on the plane. I further stated that I would not pay any additional fees for the change. He shrugged.  He made the necessary changes and then walked me over to the machine that you swipe your passport through and then out pops your boarding passes. I couldn’t help but notice that these new machines and processes probably cost a lot of money.

Got my boarding passes and was directed to the departure gate. The gates through which you must first pass to go through the tsa processing were not yet open.  I sat down and waited for a half hour. The gates opened and the tsa screeners were ready to do their thing.

Passed all the tsa stuff without too much trouble. Removed shoes, belt, change, wallet, anything metal, overcoat, etc. It took 4 trays to hold all my gear. Took about 15 minutes before I was in the same condition that I was in when I entered the tsa inner sanctum. More costly machines, more costly personnel, more time consuming procedures.  Safe? Who knows?

Plane departed Boston on time and touched down somewhere in S. Carolina and I had to hand over another boarding pass to continue on, without changing planes.  Changed planes in Ft Laud … half hour lay over before boarding the next plane. Take off around 10AM. Touched down in Medellin 2:30 PM, local time.  Total time Manchester to Medellin… about 24 hours.

The entry process is much simpler on the other end. Stand in line to see the immigration folks. They ask a few simple questions, stamp your passport and you go get your non carry on luggage. That’s it. Nobody so much as asked to open a bag.

Found a mini bus from the airport the Medellin city proper. About 45 minutes. Taxi from the intown bus stop to the hostel took about 10 minutes/ 4 bucks.

Checked into Black Sheep hostel (http://www.blacksheepmedellin.com/BlacksheepEnglish.html) around 5PM.  Walked around the area a bit and got some well needed sleep.  Spent one more night there.

Taxi from black sheep to bus station 7 AM. Bus departed Medellin 8 AM.  About 30 minutes (Southbound) out of Cali, I was looking out the bus window and saw two very drunk young men spill their drink on the seat of a police motorcycle. There were about 8 young Colombian police offices in full uniform. There were about 5 other police motorcycles parked side by side. The drunks were yelled at. One of the drunks held the ‘offender’ around the neck and steered him away from the bikes. They were both stumbling. I saw one police officer get cuffs ready but there was no overt ‘bullying’.  The drunk was not tased, was not shot. and I don’t think he was even arrested.  Welcome to modern Colombia.  It may have turned out differently if it were night and if the incident took place elsewhere.

Arrived Cali bus station a bit after 5 PM. Yep, that’s another 8 hours of travel, this time on a bus. Taxi from Cali bus station to the El Viajero… 15 minutes/5 bucks. Checked into El Viajero 7PM, Nov 22nd.(http://www.elviajerohostels.com/hostel-cali/)

That’s a lot of traveling in a short time.

Adapting to the change in weather. The buses are air conditioned and they are set on FRIGID.  The outdoor climate is tropical. Think mangos, avacados, palm trees, tall bamboo, and girls in bikinis.

Took me about 4 hours to figure out how to get this blog up and running.  Now let’s see if I can keep up with the posts and figure out how to upload vids to you tube and make links to this blogsite.

New things to learn, new things to manage.

The Amazon adventure has begun. This new blog has begun.

Later…