23 Mar 2012

°LDU. ODSA. ACGS. Part 5°

Day No 98

One more day in Cartagena. The last one, I decided. But I started it slowly enough. I got up and talked with American girl in my room. Amazingly, she was very much like me. We had similar or same opinions about a lot of things and talking to her was really pleasant. We even agreed on the abortion topic, which is usually very sensitive since people have very extreme and different opinions.

Then I had some breakfast, could not get away without getting into the bakery [again] and went for a walk. I sat down in the park and promised myself not to leave it before I finish my book. I was very much interested in how it ends, plus, I wanted to exchange it once I am in a hostel which has a pretty decent exchange. That’s where it started. There were two army looking guys at the park, waiting for I have no idea what. They came to me, asked me what time it is or something and left. Then they came back, asked me where I was from and all the rest of the same and the same conversations as always. I talked to them a little, even though if I wanted just to get back to my book. Soon enough they left. Silence and niceness again.

Not for too long though. Two policemen on a motorbike came to me. They talked me about the same things, where I am from, oh oh oh how beautiful I am and so on. Then they got a call and went away. Not for too long though. They got back pretty soon and asked me if I have `pills`. In the beginning I thought I just misheard them, but no, they were clearly asking me if I have some drugs [illegal drugs] with me. I said no, since I had none and they asked me if I was sure. I was really close to tell them to search me, but decided to be nice and not to get in trouble. They are police after all and I was pretty sure I would not want to end up in Colombian jail. Even if I had nothing on my hands.

After they left and I was able to finish my book, as I did, I went for a walk. I went along the beach to the very end of it. I was still trying to figure out – what is all this fuss about Caribbean coast? Sand is not white and smooth and water.. well, it’s ok, but not great. I was hoping it will improve once I am more towards Venezuela.

So I walked along the beach, I walked back to the center, went for the sunset on the wall once again, which was nice, but not as great as the first one in Cartagena and finally went back, strolling in some old narrow streets of Cartagena. I really liked this old town. And I am sure I want to come back. Maybe one day. Maybe with you. Well, maybe.

I got back to the hostel, made myself some dinner, and went to exchange my books. To my surprise there was a book by my beloved Murakami and what is more – in Lithuanian. Never thought that was possible. I took it right away, since the book was the one I haven’t read yet and there is no one who would probably have skills to read it in the hostel anyways. I buried myself in the book for the night. I mean, that’s Murakami. Can life get any better than that?

Day No 99

I woke up in the morning still not sure what exactly I should do. After a little consideration I decided to go to Santa Marta and stay there at least one day, figure out another destination. So I went out, took a bus that goes to the terminal and got off at the stop.

There some guy jumps right on me – are you going to Santa Marta, he asked. Once I responded positively, he took me to the bus. He told me it costs 30000, so I said thanks, I will just go to the terminal. The price suddenly dropped to 25000 and since people at the hostel told me it’s between 28000-32000, I decided to take his bus. I thought he was a driver. Turns out, he was just a random guy from the street who finally is asking for the tips for guiding me to the bus. I realized that only in the bus and felt a little bad for not tipping the guy, but on the other hand – did I even ask for his services? No.

I got on the bus and there were 3 more `gringos` in it. Like I could care.. I was just sitting there, reading my Murakami and enjoying every line of it. After some time the bus stopped and told us to get out and take another but to Santa Marta. Well, ok, so we are going. Some guys took my bag to the bus and then asked for the tips, but even if I wanted to give them something, it was such a mess that I even had no chance. That’s when and where I realized – one of those `gringos`, a chick was a bitch. While entering the bus she blocked the whole way to it and started arguing with the driver. Not even arguing, just telling him `give me 20000` again and again and again. But with such an attitude and not caring that there are people behind her who wanted to get into the bus – I would have offered her no more than an empty hand. She started to piss me off.

She only proved to be a bitch in the bus. While the bus stopped for something she was going back to the driver for her money. Again – standing right there so no one could go into or out of the bus and people were actually waiting. If I was waiting I would have said some not too nice things to her, but people in Colombia are so sweet that they just waited. And she, even after seeing them, still was being a bitch. I started to wonder where she was from.

Then another one, a friend of hers asked me which language is my book. I could not completely understand her question, so I asked `this one?` she started saying `oh Swedish, do you know that?` she was referring to the guy next to her, probably because he was Swedish. I said `I did not say Swedish. And it’s not Swedish. It’s Lithuanian`. She looked at me blankly. `So it is Swedish or not?` I said `no. It’s Lithuanian`. She went blank again. No idea about such a country. I learned later they were French. I stopped being surprised.

Anyways, the biggest surprise they made at the end of our `trip`. The bitch got out of the bus and with her bitchy face somehow got people to help her getting a phone to call someone. They were all three talking and laughing in the bus, so I figured they are all together and I was just trying to figure out which bus to take to the center. And for some reason, I stayed there while they are done. Not sure why. The blank one was talking to me and that Swedish guy while the bitch was making a phone call. Then she came to us, talked only to her friend, all in French of course, flagged a cab, put her bag in it and sat in front. I don’t care about me, but she did not even glance or said goodbye to the Swedish guy. So the blank girl said goodbye to us and they left with a cab. I joked to the Swedish guy if they just ditched him, but he was almost as surprised as I was.

So we took a bus, got to the center, went to couple of hostels I had in mind and ended up staying in one. Really cozy and nice one. I think it’s called Noctambulo. Anyways, we got in, left our stuff and went out. We did a little circle around the center, he had a dinner and I had a great fruit shake, we went to the shop, bought some stuff and went back to the hostel. In the hostel I made some dinner, shared with the guy and after some talking and reading books we went to sleep.

Day No 100

The next day we woke up and I had my almost favourite breakfast – banana milkshake. Ahh.. still almost can feel the taste.

We went to the beach, which was not that brilliant after all [I still had hopes for later ones], then after some time we went back to the hostel, then for some little round around the center. Basically there is nothing much to do in Santa Marta. It’s a nice little place, but still, nothing to do. They say it gets really busy during the weekends with all the parties, but I would not say so.

Anyways, in the hostel we met this British/Indian couple and after some conversations and beers decided to go out. We went to one place, pretty gringo friendly place, had a beer and the couple vanished. We stayed just the two of us and I started to see that he is getting a little drunk. Well, he had his reasons to celebrate. We went for some fast food and then to the hostel. The doors were closed and locked and no one came to open them. So while waiting there some people from across the street asked if we wanted to join them. Well, we can’t get in anyways, so why not join, right? That was a mistake. Because they were drinking that aquadientes or whatever it name is alcoholic drink, taste like rake or ouzo.

After couple of shots and once one guy went to buy another bottle I knew I was done. I don’t even like the taste, but refusing is impolite, so the only option for me was to go back to the hostel. The same guy who went to buy another bottle knocked the door pretty loudly, so finally the guy, who I am sure we woke up, opened the door and I was happily soon in bed.

Day No 101

I can be honest with you, the Swedish guy was starting to become annoying. He was taking my stuff without asking and other small details. So I decided I will turn on my bitch attitude and not going to share my banana milkshake for the breakfast. Turns out, he was faster – he already made himself some shake and did not offer that to me. Ok, so it makes easier for me.

After some time I told him that I am going to Taganga and that I am doing this in half an hour. He said he’s going too. So at the bus stop he tells me – I need this and that and goes for it. Oh yes, sure, you go, do your thing, I will stay here as an idiot, waiting for you. I kept it to myself though. And waited for him to come back.

Once in Taganga the same thing. We were looking for the hostel together, got into one of them, I started talking to the people I met in Medellin and he just decided he is taking the bed in here. Well, thanks for talking it through with me asshole, I thought. But once again, I just kept it to myself.

Once in the room he went straight for the shower without even asking me if, for example, I wanted to pee really badly. So after him, I went in and when I went out he was not even there. Well, that’s nice, we come together and then he disappears. Nice. I take my stuff and go to the beach. Here I meet Chileans I met before in my trip, we swim, we talk, we laugh, it was fun. The beach was not the best, but still, I had my big hopes for those.

After Chileans left, I stayed a little longer in the beach, had a walk and then got back to the beach for the sunset. Here I met Lichtenstein guy and others I met in Medellin, we watched the sunset, went to the square to listen to something that I can only call a drum music [good music]. Here the Swedish guy came out of nowhere as if nothing happened and sat next to me. I did not even bother to introduce him to the others, since he was still taking my stuff without asking and even after I said `no`. well, whatever.

So after the guys from Medellin went to the hostel and Swedish guy to buy something, I stayed a little in the beach. Just by myself. At night. I love that feeling. I had a something like a big empanada with fish for dinner from the street and headed back to the hostel. There I just read a book and enjoyed the silence. I was trying to be away from people. Somehow in this trip I was meeting not the best people. And the best people – only for a short little bit.

Day No 102

There is nothing much to say about the second day in Taganga. So I woke up, had breakfast and went to the bigger beach over the hill. I spent half of the day there – reading a book, swimming and snorkeling. Well, snorkeling was great. Even if I only had `mask` part, I still managed to see enough. I saw several fish same as in Thailand, several new ones. One like a snake, another one like a butterfly. Well, really a lot. And to think about it – the mask I got was from my ex boss. Well, some gifts are really great, even if you don’t use them too much.

After the beach I went back to the hostel, rested a little, went to the shop, bought some stuff for dinner and breakfast and got back to the hostel and read read read. I wanted to finish my book, so I could exchange it.

Day No 103

We decided together with the Swedish guy to try to get to Tayrona National Park on foot. So we packed our stuff in the morning and went out. We reached the first hill and were carefully inspected by the police guy. He asked us why we are taking so much stuff with us to the beach and we told him about our plan to get to the park. He wasn’t sure if we can get there on foot, but we were optimistic, so we still went. after several beaches and hills up and down we came to the dead end. Steep hill and no way through. He still decided to try go on the hill and I settled for waiting him down there. A police guy [the same one] came too, asked me how are we managing getting that path to the park and I told him that we are most probably taking a bus after all.

So we headed back – me and a Swedish guy. At some point we came to one small beach [you have to go through it to get to the buses] and he just jumped into the water. No, we are not two people doing this, so sure, you decide you do – ignorant and selfish asshole [or so I thought]. I got really pissed. First of all, I wanted to do the same thing – it was hot and hard to walk with a bag. But I couldn’t, since I would have to change and all that and that would take a lot of time. So I sat there and read a book. All furious and angry at him. We came to me after his quick dip and rubbed it on my face `that was so great`. I kept reading my book and ignoring him. So he asked `are you ready to go?`. I told him, still pissed, that I was ready before he got into the water and started walking. Now I am not sure if he got pissed or what the hell happened, but he kept on walking in front of me without even looking back. And once I was in the center, he was gone. Just like that, he ditched me. Asshole.

I was pissed and relieved at the same time. I mean, if we are going together, we are going damn together, you don’t ditch people like that, even if you are not fond of them. But I was happy that he was no longer around. I wanted new people or new silence.

So I took the bus to Santa Marta and from there – to the park. It was fairly easy to get there. I paid for the entrance, waited for the bus a little bit and came to the park. From the bus stop I had to walk a very nice jungle looking walk to the first or second village in there. It is really a great.

Once in the first village, I was already tired of walking. So I got a hammock for myself and went to the beach. Couple of dips into the water, some reading a book and before I knew it, it became cloudy, windy, a little chilly and I went back. I had my modest supper, read some more book and went to my hammock to sleep. The day was long and I was happy to go to sleep.

Day No 104

I have no idea what time I woke up the next day, but it was early. Now I am guessing it was no later than 6.30 a.m. I packed my stuff, had breakfast and went to another village, which had to have better beaches. It’s true for the beaches, but hammocks were much more expensive. Well, makes sense I guess.

I made it to that village in a fast nice walk through the jungles and got to those beaches. Yes, true, they were nicer, but I still could not understand this fuss about the Caribbean. I mean, sand is not white or smooth, water is clear, but there are waves [well, that is what I loved about it] – not big enough to surf and a little too big to swim as in the lake. So yes, I don’t understand why people say it’s so unbelievably awesome. And I was in this national park, with the best beaches in Colombia apparently.

After the whole day in the beach with the book, I finally went back to the same place with the same hammock and stayed there one more night. I basically just engaged myself with a book and beaches there. Well, to my defense, there is not much else to do.

Day No 105

On the last day in the Tayrona park I once again, woke up very early [you just cannot sleep in the hammock for too long with the sun right out there and all], got out of the hammock, packed my stuff once again and went out to the beach. I had no more book to read so the time was going very slowly. Just like clouds above my had – very slowly.

I did some writing, had some swims, had some walks along the beaches but after that I decided I need to get out. So I took the same walk back to Santa Marta. First – the jungle kind of path to the bus where I met a British girl and we talked about EY and all, since we both worked there. We took that little bus, then entered another, slightly bigger bus and after one hour and a bit I was back in Santa Marta.

I walked back to my hostel, got in, got my stuff back, took a shower, lost my bikini top, found it back and went to exchange some money. Well, that was a bit of a trip. I went to the official place to exchange it and I saw that the rate was really low. I decided there has to be more places for that so I went walking to the center. Here I found a policeman, asked him where to exchange money, he showed me direction, told me to go to the square and ask another policeman for the directions. I walked into what I thought was a square and found a place that was buying gold and money. I asked the guy if he was exchanging euros and he was showing me a nod and `give me those money` sign. I started asking for how much and everything, so finally he did not exchange money to me, but told me to go to another guy.

Another guy told me he will exchange me Euros for the exchange rate of dollars and I went away. I finally found some other place for exchange, but they would not exchange euros and here I met this first policeman I asked about the exchanges. He told his partner to take me to the place where I could exchange my money. So here I was, going through some kind of a mall with a police guy to the liquor store and exchanging my money. I got a bad rate, but the best one so far, so I took it and went to the shop to buy myself some food.

And just like always, I ended up my day with a book, some e-mails and sprite looking drink and went to bed early. I woke up around 6 that day, so I was tired after a long day of beaches, walking, taking buses, walking more and finally looking for money.
Day No 106

The day No 106 was literally the day of doing nothing. Well, kind of nothing. I woke up early, since I couldn’t sleep. I wrote millions of e-mails, which were waiting for the replies already for too long. I went for a walk in the beach. I walked a bit in the center. I read a book. I got back to the hostel. I applied for some jobs in Denmark [reality’s kick in the face]. By the way, off topic. If you know any available job in Copenhagen – tell me please. I will be more than happy to apply for it. Then I had some dinner and some more book reading with a cup of tea. Yes, it was definitely the day of doing completely nothing.

14 Mar 2012

°LDU. ODSA. ACGS. Part 4°

Day No 81

Once awake in the morning we prepared ourselves and went out. Our destination for the day was National park Cajas. Some people we met before told us it is very nice and we tried to believe them. It was Sunday morning, so street was pretty much empty. We managed to find a little woman working there in the street and she told us to take a bus 19 that goes to the bus terminal. But once we were in the bus stop another bus came, had Terrestre [name of the terminal] on his side, so we took it. We were lucky, it took us to the terminal and even told us that we are there, so we would not go too far away.

Once in the terminal, just as always, everybody jumped to us, asking where we are going and showed us the bus that leaves to Cajas and it leaves `now`. So I only managed to go and buy just some roles before we got in. some older guy sat next to me, very communicative. So he talked about where he is going, what is he doing and asked me the very exact things. After 1.5 hours in the bus we came to the park, got off and got into the security office. They explained us a little about the park, gave us a map, told us which route we should take and that we want to come back before 2p.m. or we will end up lost in a thick fog.

We started walking around the big lake. Once in the middle of the road Manu decided to go back [the poor girl was still very sick] and me and Nat went forward. It was a very nice walk that took us around 2.5 hours up and down, through forests and hills. We lost the way for a little bit, but after some time we managed to get back on the pink trail, so the one we used instead for a bit, we called `our` trail. It was fun. It was hard at times with altitude and everything, but it was fun. We definitely enjoyed it.

We got back to the starting point, got a drink, had a rest and then one of the workers there gave us a ride back to the city. Or so we thought. He dropped us off at the till and told us that the bus should come any minute now. We believed him. But not more than 5 minutes later a car came buy, a pick-up type and asked us if we needed a ride. Sure we needed a ride. We did not even have to hitchhike to get it. It was just one place inside the car, so me and Nat rushed to the back. Man, that was one of the heck of the ride. The guy was pretty crazy, he was going fast on a curvy road and we were almost blown off with the wind, but it was a great feeling. For the first 10 or 15 minutes we could not stop laughing of the excitement and then we just enjoyed it. He dropped us off where we tried to give him some money, but he refused it, so we just went to the bus terminal and tried to decide where we are going later and what we are doing and which direction we are choosing.

We had a bit of a different ideas in the terminal. There were no direct buses to any of the places we were ready to approve. So it was another discussion – should we take a day bus or a night bus, because we can only go to Ambato and people told us it takes 7 hours. Finally we decided that we can kill one day in Cuenca and take a night bus. We purchased that tickets and got back to the hostel.

After a little rest in the hostel we went to look for a place to eat and there was another `fun`. Sunday apparently is a day off in Cuenca. Everything is closed. And when I say everything, I mean everything. All of the restaurants, coffee places and other places where you can eat were closed. We tried getting into `32 centimeters` fast-food kind of the place, but they had vegetarian options only on the advertisement, so we kept on looking. We ended up in another fast-food place where I got a little pathetic hamburger and girls managed to find something that involved no meat.

Back in the hostel, we had an easy night. Some beer and some movies. We watched `The Machinist`, since my German friends haven’t seen this German movie before and `The holiday`, just to take the edge off machinist. After the movies we went to sleep. The day was officially over.

Day No 82

We took our time in the morning. We slept as much as we wanted, we packed sleepy and lazily, we had fast `banana milkshake` breakfast, packed a snack, put our stuff at the `reception` and left. By the way, if you come to Cuenca, you might wanna stay in this place `Turista del Mundo`. It is in a good location, rooms are basic, but clean and good, they have good common room, a kitchen, but on top of that – the owner lady is unbelievably friendly and will make you smile no matter what. She was like this `big mamma` the guys told about before and we experienced the exact same.

We went for a little walk along the river, ate our snack, Manu made a little video for her sister and then it started to rain. So girls settled for internet time and I settled for book reading. It was a long rain and we had nothing else better to do, but to kill time.

Once the rain was over, we went to look for a place to eat. We found this Brazilian place and got in. for 2.5 dollars we got a snack, soup, small portion but tasty second dish and a tiny, but still dessert.

We still had some hours to kill so we ended up in a little cozy bar with a beer and a snack. Snack turned out to be more filling than our actual dinner, but what can you do, right? We stayed there, had some life music, talked with a bartender and finally killed the time. We finally got the cab, went to the bus terminal, waited for the bus, got on the bus and drove off. We were supposed to come to Ambato at around 5a.m. Well, early, but what can you do.

Day No 83

The bus ride was totally awful. Very curvy road and very fast bus ride did not make any easier to sleep in the first row in the bus. A TIP: do not take first seats in the bus. You have too much place and then you keep on moving from one side to another. So after this `almost no sleep` bus ride the driver dropped us off. In the middle of the street in the middle of nowhere at 3.45a.m. We were not sure or better yet we had no idea where we are and where to get another bus and which city exactly we were going.

It all cleared out fast enough when on our way to the gas station and hopefully toilets another bus driver asked `Tena`? Tena was one of the destinations we might have gone, so we said yes, got into the bus, paid 5$ and tried to sleep again. I managed, but my German girls did not do it that well. In any case, at almost 9a.m. we came to Tena. We looked for the hostel in our Lonely Planet’s and went for it. We got a room and my girls almost instantly fell asleep. I, on the other hand, tried to find some information and finish my book.

Once awake, we went for a walk and for lunch. I was incredibly hungry, so incredibly angry as well. It’s a good thing Nat has the same `problem`. Another bad thing was – all of the places were closed and once I tried to find a market from the map and I found out that it disappeared, still not sure where. Either way, we ended up in the place, finally got the food, so hunger and anger went away and we went for a search of the tour agency. We got into several places and finally chose the cheapest one that goes deeper into the jungles. The only problem was that we had to leave that same night and we were already checked in the hostel. Oh well, what the hell.

So we went to the shop, bought some vegetables and eggs, went back to the hostel, made some dinner, had a beer, had some chill time and when it was time, we went to the terminal.

Guides, as usual, told us to be there on time and were late themselves. Welcome to South America. Another `surprise` - we had to pay for the bus ticket. That pissed me off. It is the very beginning and I already started not liking the services. Right before we got on the bus we tried to find a toilet and there is another surprise – the public toilet was closed. After a little run around the surrounding streets, we managed to find a nice lady, who let us use the toilet in her bar and ran back to the bus. Once in the bus – music on, chocolate on, finally – sleep on.

Day No 84

Early in the morning I was woken up, we got off the bus, took our stuff and came to the lodge where we were supposed to sleep. We got the beds and went for a fast sleep of 4 hours.

We woke up in the morning, had a breakfast and took a boat and went for a 3 hours walk in the jungle. We saw some little insects, some butterflies, some [a lot actually] plants and trees, some medical plants and went back to the lodge. I got a friend there. Larva of the butterfly. We called him Cloudy and he was walking with me for half of the way.

We had some lunch in the lodge, went to fish some piranhas, but nobody managed to get any and went back again. Once back we had some waiting and wondering around time, then dinner, then some beers and finally we went to sleep.

This is a little short day explanation and in the day after you will realize why. Short-term memory loss is not the best way to go in the jungle, but these things happen sometimes.

Day No 85

We were supposed to get up and have breakfast at 7a.m., but that did not happen. We got breakfast not earlier than 8a.m. Well that is something right? That pissed me off again. Once after breakfast we went to fish some piranhas once again and hopefully to find some alligators on the sides of the lake. Fishing was going a little better than the day before – I myself managed to catch two tiny piranhas, but both escaped before I touched them. So not sure if you count that as a successful fishing, but I definitely did.

After the fishing we went for another walk in the jungles. Once again – a lot of insects and a lot of plants and trees. Although right now it is still a little blurry like a dream.

Anyways, at some point we reached some lianas that you are able to climb up a little and then swing on it as a Tarzan. Of course, I wanted to try that. I mean – how not? There were several persons who tried that before and some of them weight more than I do. So I tried it. One swing, then another and before I know it lianas broke and I fell on the ground straight on my back and on my head. There is comes all blurry. I remember picking up pieces of my watch and someone trying to help me to do that. I knew I had to pick all of them, because I cannot loose my watch. After that I managed to stand up, I remember that part also and trying to catch my breath I just wanted to escape from all of the people.

Standing there I was trying to realize where I am and what am I doing here. It was not that easy and it freaked me out completely [guys told me I repeated the same phrase several times about freaking out, but honestly – I do not remember all of that]. I was standing there and thinking: `ok, so I am here with Manu and Nat. Ok… We are in the Ecuador. Yeah, that’s right, we are in Ecuador. We are in the jungle.. Yes.. We booked a tour of 3 days and  nights and this is the second day. Yes, it is the second day. Now.. who are all these people? We took a tour, and there were other people, yes.. Those are just all of the rest people from the group`. Trying to remember such an easy kind of the things was really scary to me, since I never experienced that before. Manu is a nurse, so I asked her almost immediately if I passed out when I fell. She told me no and we both knew that was a good sign. Still, a memory loss can be a serious kind of the thing.

Once we started walking memories came back to life. The previous day is still a little blurry, but I am just not good remembering the every single tree I am walking around. It was good though to understand that I am not dreaming and that I actually haven’t lost my mind. not yet at least. We kept on walking. I talked to Manu about what should actually freak me out, I know some things about concussion, but I was sure she knows more. So we talked that if I start having stronger headache, vomiting and more serious memory loss – I would be in a rush to get to the hospital before some worse effects on me would take action.

What surprised me the most I guess is that our guide did not even ask me if I was okey. I mean, I do not need someone walking around and constantly taking care of me, but he is the guide and he is actually responsible for me. If I get mentally retarded on his watch, that would be a big trouble for him. Still, he could not give a shit [if you excuse my vocabulary]. All the rest of people kept on asking me from time to time if I was ok, and he ignored me completely. If I had any positive feelings towards him, they all faded away.

So finally we got back to the place for lunch. We had kind of a lot of time on our hands after that, so most of the people went to sleep. Most, meaning except for me and Manu. I was afraid of falling asleep and not waking up and Manu was afraid of the same thing. So when I started to drift off to sleep, I started walking around. We went for a walk. It started raining on the way, of course, so we hid ourselves in the shop and waited for a guy to come and sell us something. That took ages and millions of laughs, I knew I can excuse myself that I am laughing like an idiot because of my `recent head injury`, but what was Manu’s excuse – I have no idea. But we had a lot of fun there.

Once back in the place and when the rain went away, we all went to look for some more alligators. This time we were more lucky. We saw 3-4 [depends how good you are in spotting them in the night] alligators, a lot of tiny nice red looking frogs and finally went back to the lodge. After dinner I decided to go to sleep [I still had a headache which was completely normal] even though I was a little afraid of sleeping. Manu, though, told me I should wake her up immediately if I start feeling worse and I could only hope that won’t be necessary.

Day No 86

The day was supposed to start at 6a.m. and we were supposed to go and see birds since the very beginning without any breakfast. I woke up at 6a.m. but I was sure that is not going to happen. One girl went to wake the guides up [sure, you are a guide and you sleep even if you are supposed to get the whole group together for the activity] and they told her that it is raining, so we will most probably start at 7a.m.

I went back to sleep. At 7a.m. I woke up again, but I thought there is no way we are starting now and just stayed in bet. I was right. It was almost 8a.m. when we started moving out to the boat again. We spent almost two hours of watching the birds and monkeys in the jungle. It was interesting, a little boring and all I could think about was – that is a good picture. That would be a good picture. I had no opportunities to make those views in the pictures, because my camera was most probably sold already to some other traveler around Cuzco. Oh well.

Once back from the `trip`, we had a nice pancakes kind of breakfast, which was really great, had some rest [there is a lot of waiting and resting in the jungle] and went for the museum. The museum was very small and not very special, but some lady explained it all about the old tribes of the jungles, their way of living, they instruments and tools and other things.

Once back into the lodge we had some lunch and settled for some more waiting – this time for the making chocolate thing. We were supposed to start at 4.30, but I probably don’t even need to mention that did not happen. At 5.10 our guide came to me, said `oh, it’s already this late` and still did nothing. So at around one hour later than it was supposed to be, we started making the chocolate. It was an interesting experiencing, I have to say. And not as hard as I could have thought, also. First of all you take cocoa beans and heat them in the pan, no oil, no nothing. Then you peel the shells of them [or whatever you call that thing in English], then you triturate them three times until you get a pasta of chocolate. Then you take that pasta, add sugar, add milk, heat it up in the pan and swirl it until it’s one solid mass. And vuola – you have chocolate already. We ate it with some cookies, I helped myself to a lot of it [of course] and once the bus was there, we went for Coca.

Once in Coca, we booked the tickets to Quito, went out, tried to find a place to eat, but since we were maybe 11 people, it was impossible. I ended up leaving everyone and with Manu we went to buy some rolls. When the bus came, we entered and I was going to fall asleep. But that did not happen so easy. We went so some parking lot, which I thought was another bus terminal, but that was a police station. So we had to get off the bus, they checked our identifications and passports and after some waiting let us back to the bus. Then I fell asleep and I thought that the day was over. But no, at some point at night, no idea when exactly, I was woken up by a policeman who told me to get off the bus. Once again, the police check on the road. Being as deep in a sleep as I was, I got off the bus feeling half-drunk, but at least the check did not last forever. Once they checked our passports, we were allowed to get back to the bus and back to the sleep.

Day No 87

We got to the southern bus terminal of Quito at some point early in the morning. We goodbyed all of the Argentinians and others who were with us on that bus and went for the local bus that had to take us to the center. The terminal is far away, you can take a cab, but that would cost about 10$, while the bus cost us 0.25$ each. We got in, the bus was only half full, so it was ok. But after some time, since all of the people were heading to the center to work probably, we got packed and most probably hated by most of the people, since we all had big back-packs on our backs.

It took us about 30-40 minutes to get to the plaza we had a hostel in. The only problem was – that hostel did not exist anymore. Or it changed the location. Or something. I have no idea, but it was clear that it is not there. So, we went to another one. They claimed on the door, that beds are from 4$, and two guys we met on their way out told us they are paying 9$ for a twin room. Once we entered the hostel [hotel to be exact] the guy at the reception told us it cost 7$ each, but if we want, he will be so kind and make it 18$ for the room. Yeah, nice, especially when we saw those other people paying much less than that.

So we went out, looking for another hostel. Not even 2 minutes later some drunk homeless and clearly crazy guy started `helping` me. The last thing at that early morning I needed his help. So I ignored him, but he kept on walking next to me insistently and showing me a way to some hostel. I would have ignored him, but girls saw a sign of the hostel there, so we went in. of course, guy wanted some coins from us, but I wasn’t ready to pay for him. And, I did not have any coins to begin with. Yet, I felt a little bad for not giving him anything.

Once in hostel we settled the price, but we had to wait for the room to get ready. We went to the panaderia [bakery], bought some breakfast stuff and went back into the hostel. In the kitchen we met a blond Turkish guy [yes, Turkish and blond] and two Americans. We had breakfast, we talked a little, we waited for the room. At some point I left the girls in the hostel and went outside. I needed a tourist information and a shop where I could hopefully repair my camera. Yes, just as lucky as I am, I managed to get one camera stolen, another camera broken.

Tourist information was useful,  but very scary on some level with his speed of speaking, so I only got some information I needed, but that was enough. Then I went around, looking for a place to fix my camera. After some time and effort, I managed to find it. Too bad, after looking at it, guy estimated 70$ of cost and 3 days of keeping the camera. I cannot possibly give away such an amount of money. It is already old camera, half broken in any case and now this. I guess Colombia part of my trip is going to be with no pictures. Oh well.

I got back to the hostel and the girls were still chilling. After some time I decided to go and do some sightseeing. The old city center in Quito is not big, so it is easy to walk around it fairly fast. Me and Manu, we went out. We walked around the main plaza, saw some demonstration on bikes for women rights, went to the basilica of the city. It cost 2$ to enter so we decided against it. But it was a big, huge in fact, church with some guys playing different instruments next to it. Some sort of rehearsal probably. Since there was nothing much to see around it anymore we decided to go to the art gallery. And that was a great choice.

We got in, learned that it is for free and they had four expositions at that time. One was from Japan before/after Tsunami, one installation, one something I did not completely get and one from some girl named `once upon a time`. The first one we saw was the Japanese part and it was good. But once we went to that `once upon a time`, we were left almost speechless. It was amazing. The author is Lorena Cordero [you can google her if you get interested] and she is brilliant. The pictures we have seen were from fairy tales and movies and .. well, it is kind of impossible to explain what and how she did those pictures, but they were really awesome. The installations and the last piece of the exposition was nothing compared to it.

They also had a `kiddie` part, where you could draw your own man and make your own comic. It was brilliant. We had a lot of fun there. But once we were done, we left it and got back to the hostel. We found Nat and Turkish blond guy still there, having beers and talking. So we joined. We had some combined dinner with potatoes surprise, which was really good. Some more talking, some more laughing and we went to sleep. It’s been a long day.

Day No 88

As always, I woke up pretty early and went out of my room, so I don’t wake up girls. And I waited for them to wake up, since I wanted to go to the market and they wanted to join me there too. After some time I just got bored of waiting, so I woke them up, we got ready and we went to the market. It was a Sunday market in the park and they had all of the same stuff as everywhere. I am not very big fan of shopping or markets, but this one I had to enter – I needed some things for myself and for presents, so I figured it was a good deal.

After that we took a bus that goes to some little terminal of Quito. There we waited with a lot of locals for another bus that went to the `Mitad del Mundo` which could be better known as 00 line, or equator. There my wish to stand on a line came true. Honestly – there is nothing much there to see or to do. It is insanely touristy and very busy, especially on the weekends. So after some jumping from one side of the line to another and making some pictures, we settled for some life music and beer. Some strange locals joined us, but since I was kind of sick from the day before, I had no interest in finding new friends whatsoever.

We left the place before they closed for the day, so we don’t have to get packed in the buses like sardines in the tin can. We got back to the hostel, had some dinner, had some conversations, I had a lot of hot tea to help my throat ache and finally went to bed. I wanted to climb the volcano the day after, so I needed my sleep.

Day No 89

Once again, I was the first one to wake up in the room. Since I still had a little time before I needed to get to the telerifico, that took you up to the trail to volcano, I started checking how to do that. Too bad that I also checked the weather forecasts and those did not look promising. I went outside, looked at a grey thick sky that soon turned into the rain and had to change my mind. Volcano was not happening, not today at least. I checked forecasts for the later days and they were just all the same – storms and rains for at least a week. Bye bye volcano, I really wanted to do you, but maybe that will have to wait for my another time in Ecuador.

Instead, since it was raining and there was nothing much more to see in the center under the roof, I started applying for jobs back in Denmark. Yeah, that brought me to the reality.

We all more or less spent the whole day in. reading a book, applying for jobs, having a light lunch and things like that. In the evening we had this huge dinner with home made tomato soup, goulash of some sort, several salads and so on. I once again ended my day with a cup of tea to help my throat which was going worse and worse and went to bed.

Day No 90

Early in the morning I checked weather forecast once again. Still not good chances to go to volcano. And I wasn’t about to wait a week or so in Quito just for that. I simply had no time. So instead I decided to go to Colombia with the girls. We woke up early in the morning and decided we would leave at 7a.m.

We were almost ready on time, but then it started. Manu needed and ATM and there were only ATMs in the shops that are close around. Then Turkish blond guy decided he will join us, but first he needed to go to his friends to another hostel to give them some money. Then this.. Then that. Before I knew it, we left a little after 9a.m.

We got into the bus, that took us to the small terminal. From there we took another bus, that took us to the bigger terminal. We bought the tickets to Tulcan, the city really close to the border and spent there 5 hours. We had 3 movies, all with John Cena [probably they got a discount on buying similar movies with the same actor] and once we were at the terminal, we got off.

It was an awful place, full of drunken psychos and crazy persistent `friends`. I wanted to get out as soon as possible, but of course, does anything ever happen how I want? Turkish blond dude needed to check internet, since his friends was supposed to send him money through Western Union to Ecuador. Sure, that is really very smart to go to the border and then check if you need to go back and wait for the transfer.

Finally we took a cab that took us to the border. There we got stamped with no troubles at all and here we were, welcome to Colombia. Once in Colombia, we took another cab, went to Ipiales, which is a close city to the border and bought the tickets to Cali. It was supposed to be 11 hours buy bus, so we bought the overnight one. Well, in any case, it was already 5p.m. so we had to do the over night thing.

While waiting for the bus, we bought some snacks for the road, talked a little and went to the bus. Before I could fall asleep nicely and peacefully we were stopped by a police check. They took all females out of the bus, did a full body check, checked our passports and checked somebody’s strangely looking package. It seemed like a lot of money in it, or so people told me, but since package got back to the bus, I guess it was something ordinary. Maybe people just have so much money in here, who knows.

Another police check came at some point later that same night and finally, I was able to sleep, for at least a little bit.

Day No 91

I woke up in the morning almost at the time we had to get off the bus. So we took our stuff, it was still early morning, around 8a.m. and started wondering around the terminal. I made up my mind to stay in Cali for at least a little bit, but all the rest were rushing for the Caribbean. So instead of staying, they decided to take another bus and go to Medellin, a city that is closer to Cartagena and all the rest that are on the coast. I had to wait for the exchange place to get open, since I had no Colombian pesos and someone in the local city bus would have not liked if I gave 20$ bill for a short ride.

Once I exchanged my money and had some breakfast we separated with the girls hoping to meet up again somewhere on the coast. Well, place is not that big, so we probably end up meeting up before we separate for our flights back to Europe.

I went to look for a bus to take me to the hostel that was recommended to me as the best and the oldest hostel in Cali. I tried one bus. He told me to go to the other side. I went to the other side and asked for the bus. He told me to go out of the terminal and take the bus there. Already frustrated, I went out and not just asked any bus, I asked the bus that had `Calle 21` on the side of it, since that was the street I needed. He told me to go to the other side `otro lado`. That was already the two words combination I was close to hating. I got so angry with questioning and getting nowhere closer, that I decided I don’t need this. I asked one lady the direction for the street I needed and went there. 2 kilometers my map said and I was hoping it was not lying. Or if lying, then that it is only shorter.

I walked there, in Cali, hot, so damn hot city with my backpack and looking for the street I needed. I was lucky, I found the street. But not the hostel. In the place where is was supposed to be according to my map there was nothing. Not even a building. Well, just my luck. The good part was that there was another hostel close enough, so I went looking for that one. Some `good Samaritan` stopped me to help. I told him what I was looking for and of course the guy showed me to the opposite direction. Good thing I had my strong mind about the thing, so I did not follow his direction. What is it with these people? If you don’t know the way, don’t tell me you know. You just mislead me and I end up angry, tired and frustrated.

Anyways, I managed to find the hostel, got it, registered myself and took a long very much deserved shower. I spent little time on internet, trying to figure out what to do in the city, met an unbelievable combination – Australian, working in Bahrain as a queen’s chef. How’s that for you?

Once I was already done with the internet, I took a little walk. I took my lonely planet little tiny map with me, so I could find a tourist information and get a decent one. The city center is around 15 minutes away from my hostel and I found it with no big troubles at all. I walked the little streets and some squares and once I came to the tourist information I was pleasantly `surprised`. There was a policeman working there. Well, ok, no judgment. But he only gave me information about what I can eat and drink and dance in the city. And once I asked for the actual map of the city, he told me sorry, he does not have one. Oh well, just my luck, right? So I walked a little more around, but seeing more and more policemen all around somehow I stopped feeling safe. I also had 100 EUR with me and I was hoping to find an exchange place, I did not want to loose it for someone who decides to rob me. I was in Colombia after all.

Do I need even to mention that exchange place did not exist where the police guy from tourist information showed me? And I could not find any other and I was a little too paranoid to ask someone for the directions because you never know who you will end up asking about it.

I got back to the hostel. And after some `chill` time me, Argentinian couple, Australian with a crazy job a German guy from my room and an older guy from the hostel went out for dinner. We had a great tasting pizza and some beer. In another place, we had an awfully expensive beer that was way out of my budget, so I only had one and little one and finally got back to the hostel. Some more little conversation with Australian about her next destination and maybe my possible visit to Bahrain and I went to sleep.

Day No 92

The other day in the same Cali was already my time to escape from it. But only in the evening, so I had the whole day for myself in there. So I woke up in the morning and checked my e-mail. Then a girl from the reception came to me with a phone. Somebody was calling me. That was strange. I picked up the phone and here was this guy from couchsurfing that I sent a message before. He said he has nothing to do, so we can meet and see the city. Well, why not, right?

He came to pick me up with a car and we drove to the statue of the Jesus on the hill where you can enjoy the panoramic view of Cali. I was surprised how big the city actually is. We stayed there for a bit, then had a little drive through the city and came to the green part of it. We walked along the river a little bit, fed a lot of mosquitos and those nasty sunflies, who for some reason like me a lot. But once after he had to go back to work, so he dropped me off where I could take a bus back to my hostel and I was left alone.

I went to some shopping mall, found a place to exchange money and got on the bus. Do I even need to mention that did not go all that well? The bus was right, but it was driving on the other side of the main road, so I could not find a street I needed. I went way out of the center until I realized it was too far already. So I got out, got into another bus that went to the center, got out somewhere closer and started looking for the place. I had luck – I found it, thanks to the Colombian way of marking the streets with numbers.

There we stayed with a young German guy, waited for the time to pass and then took a cab, got into the terminal, bought tickets to Medellin, got into the bus and hit the road. The day was officially over.

Day No 93

We got into Medellin and it still was a little dark outside. Since German guy was going to some hostel, and I looked at it too, I decided to join him. It’s cheaper to take the cab this way and it was too early to think too much about which hostel to enter.

We got in, checked in and we escorted to our beds. After a little nap I got out, tried to find a map in the hostel and that did not happen, so I ended up going to the center. I walked around the center, I went to this park with a lot of fat people in it [statues, not actual people], had some lunch in the park on the bench and still could not get to the tourist information office. I found one before that was closed and another one that had no maps to provide. I kept on looking. At the end I already knew the whole center and still had no map in my hands.

I got back to the hostel at some point in the evening and then it started raining. Ok, so no more going to the supermarket for dinner. Well, I wasn’t planning on going out that night and going to sleep early, so I figured that would be ok.

I met people there, some very nice people, some of them left that same  night, some stayed in for some more time in Medellin. We talked, we laughed and everybody was thinking about going out. At the end I joined them. It just seemed right. So we got the cab, got into some nightclub which was not good. We spent most of our time outside it just talking. After a little while we left the place, got into some park where somebody went to look for another club and we just stayed there. We met some more people in the park, talked to them, at we end we went to the nightclub with them. It was better, but almost empty, but we did dance a little.

After that we had a little walk, got separated from almost everyone somehow and early in the morning, although it was still dark outside, I went back to my bed.

Day No 94

I woke up in the morning and everyone in my room were still sleeping. I went out and it was raining. So I settled for the waiting of the rain to pass. That wasn’t likely to happen. At the end, tired of just waiting, I went out to figure out what else can be done in the city.

I decided to take a ride in metro and than a metro combined cable car. There is nothing much up where I was going, but it had a little park there and the cable car ride is worth seeing, because you get to see the panoramic view of the place. It was nice. It gave me a little walk, but once I got to the `mirador` I saw a lot of fog and clouds and nothing more. Yes, it was a bad day to go there, since all you can see is white stuff. Well, at least I did something for the day, since most people were just recovering from the night out.

Once back in the hostel, I had some dinner and then just hung around, talked to people. There were some games going on, some drinking games as well. Then, at some point, some girl came to us to tell the news. Some guys were outside the hostel, just next to the gates, smoking and someone came to them with a gun and asked [well, `asked`] for their money. They gave what they had, because you don’t want drop dead there, but it was a little shocking, since the area is considered to be safe. Well, I guess that means – welcome to Colombia.

Once nice got late enough, almost all of the hostel went out. I stayed in. I wanted to go to the rock the next day and I am not that big fan of `let’s pay 12EUR for the entry of the club and just try to dance to a thing they call music`. We stayed with one Chilean guy, talking about a lot of different and interesting things. But once 2 o’clock hit my watch, I went to sleep. I needed my rest.

Day No 95

I woke up in the morning, half of the beds were still cold in my room. I packed my stuff, checked out and went to the terminal. There I bought a ticket to Guatape and went to see the rock. The ride was 2 hours and cost 12ooo which is a lot, but at least it dropped me off at the bottom of that rock.

Once there I got a lot of new `friends` offering me horse taxi, motor taxi, tuk-tuk taxi, anything I could ever want. I said I was walking up the hill and they tried to be understanding, but they said it is very far so I do want to take some transportation. I wanted to tell them some not nice things, but decided against it. I just told them I will try it anyways.

Far meant no more than 20 minutes easy hill climbing on the paved road. Yeah, far. And then up there were several miradors and that huge rock. Okey, so the rock is really huge, but when you look at it, it’s just a rock. The views from it or from the miradors were much more exciting. A place surrounded by forests and trees and lakes and endless rivers. Very beautiful. I spend half of the day there, just enjoying it all.

Once I was done with that place, I had to get back, so I don’t miss my bus out of Medellin. I walked down, hailed a bus and after couple of hours with some eatable stuff in my hands I was back in the hostel. There I spent most of my time talking to Chileans and this cute nice Swiss guy, just laughing, making fun of people [not in a mean way], talking and preparing to leave.

Once we had to leave, we were 5 of us taking the same night bus. We goodbyed the others and took cabs and went to the terminal. In the terminal some people went to eat, some went to do nothing, some stayed with the things. Once in the bus, that was very comfortable and cozy, we had a movie going on. I was feeling optimistic, but it was soon killed by a movie. It was one of the most stupid movies you could ever watch. Like stupid soap opera, just a movie. Oh my.. I went to sleep. Or I tried at least anyways, since two guys just next to my seat were talking so loud that even the drivers might have heard them.

Day No 96

Early in the morning we had a police check, then another movie and then, at around 11.30 in the morning we got welcomed in Cartagena. Three of us had already hostels sorted out, but since we were five there was a big dilemma how to go to the center. Two cabs, but who is going in which one and all the rest of the stuff you always face when you travel in a group. I knew it was going to be a mess and after a night in a bus I just did not need that, so I told them all to go in one cab and I will take a bus. I had no idea where I will stay, so for me it seemed like a reasonable plan. They agreed. I say goodbye to them and went for the bus.

The bus dropped me off in the different place than I have hoped, but still on a map, so I was satisfied. I came to Casa Viena hostel, got a bed and had some rest. After that I went out for a walk.

Now Cartagena is a place you want to see. The old town especially. And you want to have camera with you. It is really very beautiful. You do not even need a map to walk there, since every single street in it is like a piece of a little art. Of course, there will be no pictures for me, since no more cameras are left, but if you are thinking about going to Colombia – Cartagena is definitely a place to be and to stay. At least a little bit. Just to walk along those narrow little somewhat romantic and idyllic streets.

This was exactly what I did for the whole day. Just walking around, going on the wall for the sunset and coming back to the hostel. Here I met some people, had dinner and had an easy night. No partying, no nothing. Just an enjoyment of the things I just seen and experienced.

I have to say, I may have found the perfect place for me to be. Hot, but not too hot, windy that makes it less hot, beautiful and somehow familiar. I don’t know. I think I could live in Cartagena. Maybe.

Day No 97

I decided to stay in Cartagena a little longer. There is not much to do here, but it’s still nice. So nice that I just did not want to leave too early. I went to my already favourite bakery, bought some rolls for the road, went again to the city center, walked around another part of little nice streets, read a book in the park, walked a little more. It was the real vacation that, not when it comes to think of it – I probably needed after all that rushing and travelling and everything.

After a city center I decided to see those incredible Caribbean beaches for myself. It is located around 2-3 kilometers away from the center, but it is a peace of cake when you go for a walk. And this is exactly what I did. I was walking along the beach, keeping my feet in the water and being completely in my head. Here an Argentinian guy asked me if I was ok and talked a little bit to me. He was incredibly nice and sweet, but I just wanted to be on my own. I know it may be not so nice, but I really, just wanted to enjoy my time being with myself.

I sat down in the beach on the rocks [just so all those people who try to sell you stuff] would not bother me and read a book. And here all of the `excitement` came. Some guy fished a big fish there. If you are animals friendly – skip this part. The fish was still alive, a lot of people came to see what is happening and the guy kept on punching that fish with a little wooden stick that there is no way you could kill that fish with no pain [stop telling me fish is cold blooded and feels no pain]. I could not look, so I looked away. But there were a lot of people around watching the scene. One of the guys, who is selling stuff there, came to talk to me. We talked a little bit, somehow he liked me. He asked if I don’t want a black boyfriend from Caribbean. I told him I was married, and my husband would not accept that. After some time he made a little necklace to me as a present and let me read my book. But he told me not to forget that this was present from `negrito Miguel` in Cartagena.

On my way to the center I met this English/Danish couple, then some Swedish guys and went to the wall for another sunset. Once the sun set, it started being chilly and very windy, so I went back to the hostel, had some very nice conversation with a Swiss guy in my room, had some dinner, talked to some more people and finally went to bed. No partying for me in this part of the world. I just don’t feel like it. Well, maybe a beer another night. I think I deserve it.