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.