From Peru, we were in the mood to get some warm beach time. A number of Colombians we´d met in our travels were extraordinarily warm and welcoming, so we decided to go there. We found plenty of warm beaches on the Caribbean coast, lots of great Colombians, and a few mosquitos.
The most amazing thing we found was Colombia´s performance in the World Cup, as Colombia won their first 4 out of 4 games, and the whole-hearted excitement everywhere we went. At the time of this writing, Colombia was one of the 8 best teams.
For the last 16 years they haven´t even qualified for the World Cup. We´ve never experienced a country so united and excited about anything. During the game we happened to be in transit. As we drove down the road we saw café after café jammed with people in yellow shirts watching a TV. We could project this image to every street throughout the country. When a goal was scored the whole country shook with excitement. A video of the celebration in a small bar is here.
Our favorite stop was a park called Tayrona, which has beautiful beaches dotted with grounded granite boulders, sort of like Tahoe, or the Baths in the British Virgin Islands. An irony is that we searched for days in the Peruvian Jungle to see wildlife, and in Tayrona Park, we easily saw monkeys, caiman, and lots of interesting birds.
One of the places we stayed was built up on some granite boulders above a beach, so the waves rolled in under our window. We got there
by local bus. There´s a dirt road that leads from the bus stop to the lodging. We´d just stepped off the bus when this handsome young man on a black motorcycle pulled up and offered Char a ride. He hoisted her suitcase up onto his handlebars, she climbed on without question, and in an instant Dan was standing there alone, wishing he´d taken a picture. After a long sweaty trudge up the dirt road he found her safe and sound drinking a cold drink.
By the way, the local bus seemed to also be the local delivery service. Each bus has both a driver and a conductor. At one point we noticed that the conductor was suddenly holding a plastic bag of frozen fish. The bus stopped, he jumped off and ran across the road. He hung the fish on a barbed wire fence, pulled on a rope that rang a bell, and jumped back on the bus.
It seems that the Colombians love music. As you walk down the street one set of music melds into another, but there is always music. A video of street dancing in Cartagena is here. Bear in mind that the temperature is 85 degrees and the humidity is very high.
Which was smarter, the horse or the driver?
In Cartagena we were seated upstairs in a restaurant eating dinner and looking over the balcony railing. A horse drawn carriage pulled up below us and stopped. The driver dropped the reins, hopped out, and went into a tienda to buy a drink. A taxi pulled up behind the carriage and tooted its horn. The horse looked over its shoulder, decided it needed to move the carriage out of the taxi´s way, and pulled forward and to the right. The driver came out of the tienda, jumped in the seat, and encouraged the horse but the carriage wouldn´t move with the wheels against the curb. The driver got out and pushed the carriage, helping the horse. Eventually the passengers got out. The horse and driver were able to get the carriage going against once its load was gone, but the rim of one wheel fell off.
Here’s how things “work” in Colombia