Sunday, 31 March 2013

Evaluating Ecuador and concluding Colombia

Dear Ecuador,
So you have seen me climbing volcanoes, counting butterflies, visiting universities, working on a farm, walking round valleys, singing karaoke (maybe more than once...), strolling round markets, bathing in hot baths and buying a hat (see below). You have been beautiful and magical and filled with gorgeous greens and fertility. I have loved you, thanks for the good times.
Maybe see you in October...
Yours, always,
Ruth Webber

Dear Colombia,
Although having reached the end of my trip and perhaps being slightly underwhelmed by your salsa capital (did go out the once though, and a damned good time I had too), I have thoroughly enjoyed  your hills and your sugar cane juice, your coconut water, your wild R-UM-BA, and your R-UM actually... Your hot and dusty coast, your exotic fish, your WARM WARM seas, your palm trees, your dominoes and your super pervy men.

Since crossing your borders (which went without a single problem, as you can tell no kidnapping has thus yet occurred) I have visited Cali, your salsa capital, been lucky enough to nab a dance with Ricardo (swoon) the best salsa dancer in the whole club, then salsa danced my way into your beautiful lush green coffee region, where we spent a few days relaxing in the stunning Salento, that felt much like Villcabamba in Ecuador. Here, we played a whole lot of pool, drank a whole lot of Colombiano beers, played Tejo, a brilliant game which consists of throwing heavy lead pucks at a square of clay, in which is a metal ring with 4 packets of gunpowder placed on, so when you hit them they explode, and you get awarded different points according to where your pucks land. It's free to play but you have to drink beers. I love Colombia for this game, "hey, how about we invent a game where you have to drink beer and blow stuff up?" excellent. England should have got there first, maybe I will introduce it to our pyromaniac country. So from the smoke of the gunpowder, we went on a coffee tour, discovered all about the process of making coffee, very interesting, and then got to sample some FRESH coffee, which was very enjoyable, as well as consuming a number of ripe and ready bananas straight from the tree. Salento also had a number of great cafes, which saw us eat delicious curry, an INCREDIBLE peanut butter and chocolate brownie, a heowge and yummy burger, and drink some delicious home made raspberry and strawberry wine. Yum  yum yum.
And an ultimate burger always tastes better after an 18km hike...

So from Salento, Adam and I took a 26 HOUR BUS RIDE. Hell it was. Absolute hell. Buuuuut we eventually arrived in Taganga, a wee beach town near Santa Marta, filled with tourists but a great place to eat a delicious fish dish, have a lovely little swim, and a great base from which to travel to the beautiful national park Tayrona where we slept in hammocks by night and lay on the beach by day. Thoroughly enjoyable. Hammocks more comfortable than first thought as a bed.

Mina was our next stop, where we met up with our delightful and dear Frenchies, Quentin and Celemence, at the top of a BLOODY GREAT BIG HILL which we walked up with our million kilo rucksacks, but to at last reach the wonderful Casa Loma hostel, with a beautiful view of the valley, amazing sunsets, gorgeous communal meals, hammocks and a good musical jamming session. We loved Minca, eating lunch in the river was a personal highlight, as well as finding a secret swimming spot away from the Easter weekend crowds. Moving on from Minca to the stunning Cartagena with the Francaises has been the most recent jaunt, which has so far been an absolute hoot (see pictures)  and I will be very sad to say goodbye to them tomorrow.

But as I have learnt from traveling, people come and go as you move around, and some stick while others float alongside you for a while, disappearing into the ether once you say goodbye. But there are always the ones who sink that little bit further in, remaining forever in your heart and head, and who will always be around for a jolly good knees up, wherever in the world they may be.