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.