5 things to experience in Medellin

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they know they're good

After some days in the same city something magic happens, you feel like you’re not visiting anymore: you’re living it.
You know the surrounding, how to move around, directions. You get more comfortable and soon you notice things you couldn’t grasp before, when your nose was on a map or on a guide.
And it may happen that you even meet in the metro someone you know, like happened to me. Yes, that was the signal for me to move on.

For the first time since I started my walkabout I found a place I could live in: Medellin. 

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Categories: Colombia, WalkAbout | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Visiting Mompos or Mompox, charming colonial town

IMG_0973.JPG One of my Dutch friend from the Salsa band told me “Mompos is the best place I’ve visited in Colombia!”

When someone says this about a place, I always wonder what happened to him/her in there.
So I went to check out Santa Cruz de Mompox myself.

Anyway, I found 5 things true about Mompos:

  1. nobody knows the correct spelling of the name
  2. you won’t find any party in there
  3. reaching it is not complicated as they say, but never the less is a nice adventure
  4. it’s a beautiful colonial town
  5. they have great rocking chairs! 

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Categories: Colombia, WalkAbout | Tags: , , , , , |

Salsa in Barranquilla

The Lonely Planet guide to South-America says pretty clearly to skip Barranquilla because is too dangerous, too dusty and uninteresting.

But in the city of world-famous Shakira, Salsa music is more popular than anything else and if you’re a Salsa lover would be a terrible mistake not to stop for a weekend here!!

The Barranquilla I found is a big city going under a massive renovation, filled with very proud people ready to party anytime and not accostumed to tourists.
Barranquilleros were so friendly that I felt suspicious at times :)

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Categories: Colombia, Salsa, WalkAbout |

Visiting Ninos en Contacto project in Barranquilla

“Oh yeah, you’ll be like a star there…” said my friend Tatiana with a grin before I left Amsterdam.
And, indeed, that’s what happened when I visited her project in Barranquilla :)

After I injured my knee on the Ciudad Perdida trek, I was forced to rest on an hammac reading, writing and drinking for 3 days in the Taganga village on the Caribbean coast (not a bad place to recover!)

As soon as I got some mobility back I continued my walkabout for one of the experiences I was looking forward the most: visiting the Ninos en Contacto project in Barranquilla.

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Categories: Colombia, Feelings, WalkAbout | Tags: , , , , , |

1 month on the road

I had a terrible nightmare last night.
In the dream I checked the iPod (my source of date, while my source of time is the camera) and find out that it was the 1st August instead of the 1st of July.
I then panicked realizing that all my concept of time was wrong, and 2/3 of my walkabout was already gone.

I woke up with the confusing feeling you get when a dream happens too close to waking time, but the iPod was on my side: 1st of July was.

This remembered me of 2 things:

  1. tomorrow is my mom´s birthday
  2. I’m traveling since a month

The first adjective that comes to my mind is intense. This is how this month was.

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Categories: Colombia, Feelings, Panama, WalkAbout | Tags: , , , , , , , |

5 days in the jungle, hiking Ciudad Perdida, Colombia

IMG_0811.jpg The Ciudad Perdida (Lost city) has an history interesting enough to make me hike for 5 days in the rain forest. And I never did an hike longer than few hours before in my life.

This pre-Colombian settlement of the Tayrona people, located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains surrounding the city of Santa Marta, Colombia, was unknown for more than 400 years.
It was only in the 1970s that was discovered by accident by guacheros (grave robbers) looking for gold. After the robbers, the government stepped in to protect and restore the place with an group of workers and archeologists… BUT the local tribes didn´t like to see more gold taken away (officially for the museum of Gold in Bogota´and Santa Marta) and a nice morning, weapons in their hands, decided to stop everything claiming their land back!

This is in a few words the history of this place that has been discovered and restored for only 10% of the whole settlement. This could be a perfect set for an Indiana Jones sequel, I`m telling you :)

The only way to see Ciudad Perdida is to hike there. No luxury options like train or bus are available (dislike Macchu Picchu) and the hike is the true experience not to be missed…

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Categories: Colombia, WalkAbout | Tags: , , , , , |

Salsa in Cartagena

Salsa in Cartagena means places like Donde Fidel and Cafe´ Havana, and famous artist Joe Arroyo…

In this post I´ll talk of all of them, experienced in the very hot and humid days I spent in the beautiful colonial city of Cartagena de Indias.

 

Donde Fidel

This is how the Lonely Planet describes this place:

Donde Fidel – The best sound system in Cartagena bar none, and definitely the best Salsa collection in Colombia. [...] On Saturday afternoons, watch rare vintage Salsa videos on the big screen. If Salsa legent Hector Lavoe were alive today, he´d own a bar like this.

How could I miss such a place???

I head into the old town and as soon as I reached Plaza De los Coches, the music was indicating very well the way to go :)

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Donde Fidel

In this corner of this square I found people drinking, singing and watching on the screens videos of live concerts from Joe Arroyo, El gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Oscar de Leon… I felt emotional, the passion for Salsa has its temple in Cartagena!!

And it was just Saturday afternoon, unbelievable.

I spent there the rest of the day, enjoying some beers and the good vibe, connecting with people around… and looking at the hundreds of pictures on the walls (click the picture on the left): this Senor Fidel Lotteau was represented with all the greatest Salsa artists visiting his bar!

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Categories: Colombia, Salsa, WalkAbout | Tags: , , , , |

Sailing from Panama to Cartagena

The Pan-American highway runs for 47,958 km (29,800 mi) from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina.
But… is not complete. A 87 km gap exists between Panama and Colombia.
87 km of rainforest, swamps, guerrillas, called the Darien Gap that was crossed for the first time only in the 1960!

So, there´s no road between Panama and Colombia.  To cross the Darien Gap, you can take a (relatively) expensive and boring plane, or be adventurous and go via boat.

I choose the boat indeed. There are sailing boats that runs without a fixed schedule and take people on a 4-5 days trip passing through the paradisiac San Blas islands for something like 450$…

 

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Categories: Colombia, Panama, WalkAbout | Tags: , , , , |

Panama Canal

IMG_0175.jpg When I first read about the Panama Canal as the biggest engineering work ever, Ithought it was an exaggeration.

But once in Panama, a not-to-miss visit to the closeby Miraflores locks changed my mind big time :)

The amount of work and effort required to escavate, isolate and flood the 77km lenght of the canal have been giantormous, made dramatic by the tropical diseases that killed many of the workers that migrated to PanamaIMG_0176.jpg from all over the world…

The history of the canal, together with the huge commercial interests behind it, and the undergoing massive expansion works are very interesting material to know.

As always, wikipedia is a good source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panama_Canal

Anyway, here some pics from Miraflores locks, where I had to wait 4 hours to see the show of 2 cargo ships passing through it :) Absolutely worthed!!

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Full photo album here :)

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Categories: Panama, WalkAbout | Tags: , , , |

Panama Salsa Congress

IMG_0286.jpg From a place like Panama City, where Salsa is everywhere, the expectation for the Salsa Congress – that by pure coincident was in the same weekend as I was there! – grew naturally high :)

When I reached the location Fiesta Casino on Friday evening I was super-excited.
But I had to ask 3 times “donde esta el congreso?¨ and then 3 more times “donde estas la sala de baile?” before I had to surrender to the truth.

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Categories: Panama, Salsa, WalkAbout | Tags: , , |