A Travellerspoint blog

March 2009

Green Adventures....

...in both the literal and eco-friendly sense.

rain 22 °C

It seems that our string of visitors to Bogota has finally come to an end. Your visits were essential to surviving February and March. No joke. Steph and Aaron, Beth and Shelby, you guys should know how thankflul I (we) are you were able to come. I think if I had to teach one more modal verb or explain the difference between zero and first conditional one more time without you and a beer on the other end, I would have clawed out my eyes. So, in short, thanks!

Our adventures with visitors kept taking us further and further from Bogota (I'm not complaining). Our latest excursion was the capstone to a wonderful week of relaxing and green beer. Shelby dedicated her whole spring break to an extended St. Patty's day in Bogota. After hitting up a few requisite tourist sites, we grocery shopped for all the makings for corned beef and cabbage, potatoes, biscuits and of course, green beer. Wednesday was dedicated to getting just the right amount of green food coloring in our homemade verdant concoction and then comparing it to the one served to us at the one and only Irish Pub in Bogota. After waiting in line, seeing some Colombian guys play Brazilian beats at the Irish pub, and listening to slurred but elated "Happy St. Patrick's Day" shout-outs from those lucky enough to be inside the pub, we made it in! You know the drill from here.

The next morning came far too soon. We were scheduled to work a immersion program with the Y and were up before anyone with that much green beer in their system should have been. What is worse, we were headed to Osolandia (bear land, can you just imagine 3 adults getting into a cab being like, "Take me to Osolandia please." It would be like saying take me to McDonald's playland. Yeah, that cool!). Thankfully, we survived only to head home and collapse in sorry, hungover and mostly tired heaps.

We made much better use of the rest of Shelby's visit. We had visited the nearby adventure sport town of Suesca earlier that week only to get the itch to do something adventurous. With a 3-day weekend coming up we decided to hit up Colombia's up and coming extreme sports town called San Gil. Bright and early Saturday we headed up with enough time to walk through Parque Gallineral on the riverfront. We had been briefed on all San Gil had to offer the adventurous types and had decided on rafting and rappelling down a waterfall (called Torrentismo here). Thanks to the rain we were able to add in Spelunking (through and underground cave completely filled with water at some points). The insanity of it all is chronicled much better on the picture site, but here are a couple of videos of our rafting excursion.

[Just a little taste of San Gil. These were taken on the Rio Fonce, one of the 3 rivers running through and near to the town of San Gil (about 7 hours north of Bogota).]

Rafting I was totally game for. It took a patient boyfriend with very comforting words and a fearless friend to get me to jump off a cliff only to rappel down the face of a 300ft waterfall, all the while being pelted with gallons and gallons of chilly mountain runoff. Turns out, its pretty awesome!

Heading back from San Gil proved to be another adventure. We were hoping for some rest on the bus after our sleepless night before due to a 3am start of a Quincenera outside our hostal (marking the transition from my college days of thinking quiet hour laws were bogus to today where they now make the top 10 list of laws I will always uphold). Unfortunately the Colombians love for their dear Cumbia and Vallenato music with a little Reggaeton mixed in makes sleep not an option.

We did make it home, tired, but all in one piece to an apartment with a constantly running toilet that can't even be masked by the sweet little song the washing machine sings when its done eating and stretching out your wardrobe. The running toilet however, holds no flame to the persistent drunk singers that seem to camp outside our place from about 11pm to 3am any given night. Colombian music isn't better when you sing it louder or drunker.

Thankfully we will get a reprieve from the delight of living in a huge city apartment complex when we take off on Saturday to hike to the Lost City (3 days out, 1 day at the ruins, 2 days back) in the Colombian Jungle up near Santa Marta. After that, I am very much looking forward to a week with Marty's family in Cartagena and Santa Marta for some lovely vitamin D (aka Caribbean sunburn).

Back in mid-April for 1 more month of work and then off to travel before home in late June!

Posted by tuffchix 14:06 Archived in Colombia Tagged ecotourism Comments (1)

Spice of Life!

Attitude and Guasca go a looooong way!

semi-overcast 14 °C

Life in Bogota has been on the up and up. I would attribute that to a little personal attitude adjustment on my part, but the fact the we have had (and are looking forward to) fantastic visitors, coupled with being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel definitely adds its own spark.

While January crawled by after such excitement in on the Caribbean and in the Coffee Region, February picked right up with Steph and Aaron and then Beth! Marty's latest update to the picture site details Beth's visit better than I could, but suffice to say IT WAS WONDERFUL!! We were able to make it back to Villa de Leyva (the gorgeous colonial town we visited back in early November), attempt to see Guatavita, the lake that gave birth to the legend of El Dorado where local Muisca native chiefs supposedly threw gold and jewels as offerings to the Gods, but arrived minutes after the trail head closed. Instead, we checked out the town of Guatavita as well as Bogota's many offerings including Montserrate, artisans, the Candelaria, numerous street vendors, botanical gardens and delicious restaurants! Looking forward to heading out as tourists again tomorrow when Shelby, a friend from college, gets in.

As for the more day-to-day side of life, it has been a real challenge for me to calm down and just kinda "go with it". As much as I have enjoyed all the opportunities I have had while being here, there were definitely times of frustration, say, for example when the water heater, stove, gas, water, toilet, internet, power or fridge were/are broken. Or, perhaps a good example is when the mattress turned into a giant crater. While a few months ago that would have (and sometimes did) send me into an fit of adolescent rage, stomping over-dramatically around the apartment declaring, "someone needs to take care of this right now or else..." I have managed to find my Om and basically just suck it up. Similarly, my less than ideal night shift as a university professor eats at me a little less and I have started to enjoy some of the work, despite my serious lack of qualifications (I'm pretty sure you should know what phrasal and modal verbs are, and I'm still not sure I do after an entire chapter of them!). Luckily, what I lack in knowledge of basic sentence structure, I make up for in humor (aka mispronouncing Spanish words while trying to explain an English one) and a genuine American accent (never thought that would come in handy). I have even picked up a few new Spanish words thanks to my eager students--Mom, you would not approve of these ones. Actually, Dad, you might not either. Marty's work situation has also calmed down and they have relieved him of his insanely early morning classes. He now leads 2 English clubs for the YMCA two evenings a week and may be taking on a couple classes during the week at the university he was working at earlier this year.

Its crazy to think that we have just over 3 months left in our adventure here. Thanks to visitors when we needed/need them most, we have been able to stay sane (for the most part) and make the best of our time here. We learned to make Ajiaco, the traditional soup from these parts (secret ingredient: Guasca leaves) and I took an impromptu "cooking class" from the restaurant owner of our favorite 'mom and pop place'. We have really made a point to relax, read and not get too caught up in things we have no control over and it looks like its working for us.

As we start to allow ourselves to get just a teeny bit excited about reuniting with life back stateside, we quickly remind ourselves that in addition to the wonderful family, friends, beer, BBQ, oceans, camping, driving, seafood, (well, you get the point) that await us, that constant sidekick, Unemployment, is also there to greet us with open arms. Fearing this dear companion, we have started our job searches if for no other reason than to get to know what is out there so we can kick it into full gear once we are back in CA.

Tomorrow Shelby arrives and just a couple weeks after she takes off we are off to Santa Marta where we will be hiking to the Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) on a 6 day guided trek through the northern Andes/Colombian Jungle. You can check out the trip on this site. After that, we will be meeting up with Marty's family on the coast for an extended spring break. By the time we get back we'll have a little over a month of work with the YMCA before taking off to discover other parts of South America. Definitely looking forward to it all and will try to keep y'all posted on life as it comes. We love hearing from you and all your emails, skype calls, chat messages, etc. really keep us going here. Thank you and keep 'em coming!

And, as always, you can SEE us at http://beyondbogota.shutterfly.com

Posted by tuffchix 22:11 Archived in Colombia Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

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