March 19, 2013


Press HERE to see a slideshow
from Cartagena.

Betty on the Wall
IMG_4114: Betty on the Wall

Bill on the Wall
IMG_4116: Bill on the Wall

Betty and I traveled by van to Barranquilla. We had hoped to stay three days and visit with Angelica Linder's family. Unfortunately we were not able to contact them. We also did not find enough of interest to keep us there. So we left the day after we arrived.

Betty Loves Street Sculptures
IMG_4128: Betty by Public Art
Hats for Sale
IMG_4137: Hats for Sale

Next up was Cartagena. We also traveled there by van. We stayed at one of the many, many hostels that service the huge tourist trade that you find in the city. Compared to other countries, we continue to find short-term accommodations very expensive at more that $40 per night. To pay less means to step into cesspool of grungy accommodations. While our room was quite small, 10 x 15 feet, The bed was great and the bath was OK. The name of the hostel is Hostel Mamallena, and I can recommend it.

The thing about hostels is that you meet so many interesting people from all over the world. We met Poles, Argentinians, Americans, Chileans, English, Germans, Dutch and many more people. It is so nice to share stories about travel with your fellow travelers.

The old, walled city of Cartagena is beautiful and well maintained. We saw so many things. We walked along the top of the fortress walls, down the narrow streets and in the beautiful plazas. I encourage you to take a look at our photos and slide show.

Our winter travel smay be coming to an end tomorrow, as we fly back to Florida. If we decide to continue our winter away from the freezing northland, we will let you know.

Cartagena's Modern Beach Highrises

Posted by bill at 12:45 PM | Comments (1)

March 14, 2013

Winding Down

Press HERE to see a slideshow
from Santa Marta.

Taganga's Beach
IMG_4085: Beach

Heavy Surf
IMG_4086: Beach

Well we are moving on from Santa Marta. I mentioned in my last post that we would be leaving Santa Marta a month early due to the problems with our landlord and the heat. We are on our way to Barranquilla today.

View from the Restaraunt

So, how hot is it. Everyday for the past month the daily high temperature has been at least 95f (35c) and daily low has been at least 75f (24c). Thank goodness that the humidity levels are not crazy high at 75f, which most Minnesotans consider to be very uncomfortable. When we came we knew that it would be hot, but not this hot. The biggest cities in Colombia are at fairly high altitudes. Bogota is at 8300 feet (2550 m) so it is much cooler with highs often less than 70f. Medellin at 4900 feet (1500 m) is in between the coast and Bogota with highs in the 70's.

The only thing of interest that we have done is visit Taganga. We rode the three miles to the fishing village by bus. The beach is lined with little, inexpensive restaurants. We found one and I ordered Red Snapper. Snapper is my favorite fish that comes from the Caribbean Sea.

Well I will write again in a few days. We will travel to Cartagena after Barranquilla.

Taganga's Beach
IMG_4088: Beach

Posted by bill at 09:36 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2013

Päivi and Santeri

Press HERE to see a slideshow
from Santa Marta.

Fish in the Market
Fish in the Market
Päivi and Santeri
IMG_4068: Paivi and Santeri at the Mercado
The Beach in Early Evening
IMG_4074: Beach in Early Evening
Vegetable Cart
IMG_4059: Vegetables at the Mercado

Betty and I met Päivi and Santeri eight years ago in Buenos Aires. They are from Finland, but they have been citizens of the world for the past eight years. They are nomads, living here and there and everywhere. They are both 42 years old. We met them again six years ago in Cambodia, where we traveled together for two weeks. We keep up with them on their blog spot and on facebook. We consider them good friends.

When we first announced our trip to Colombia, we got a note from them saying that they might join us in Colombia. They were planning to visit Jamaica and Trinidad. Much to our surprise, they arrived a few days ago. We spent a long time talking with them, catching up with our lives and changes in our lives. It was wonderful.

We shared several meals with them doing all the cooking. They have become vegans in the years since we last saw them. Except for the morning oatmeal, Betty and I are totally incompetent in vegan cooking. What they prepared for us was very good. We explored a bit of the city together, especially visiting the open-air market. Betty did not go to the market. The last time we visited the market, she almost got sick from the odor of the hanging meats.

We had been really enjoying the house we rented in the city. It is far from perfect, but it is an old colonial style house. The only fault has been the afternoon heat. We must close up the living room in the early afternoon as the temperature rises. How hot is it? When we wake in the morning, it would be 75f (24c) and 95f (35c) in the late afternoon. The heat has become unbearable for Betty, especially because the house is not aligned well to catch the wind.

Again - other than the heat - the house has been great.
That is until last Tuesday, shortly after the arrival of Päivi and Santeri. We were all siting around our kitchen table in deep conversation, when the landlord's agent - Pedro Torres - just walked in. He has said that he would need to get things from time to time from a backroom that we cannot use. Suddenly he had a hostile attitude. While I do not speak Spanish very well, I understood that he did not like that our friends were visiting. He did not seem to care that they were sleeping at a nearby hostel. Just their presence set him off. He sent me a hostile and hurtful email, where he told us to vacate when our month was finished on the 15th of March. We think all his bluster was made up, because he wanted us to move so he could rent to other people. We had been thinking about leaving early anyway, because of the heat. The next day he came again to show the house to other potential renters. After they left, he picked a fight with me. I told him that we would be gone on the 15th. There is no way that we would stay longer. Santeri told me that they too have had problems with landlords in the past. Generally, they leave immediately - to lessen the risk of them stealing something. I think that it is good advice.

Päivi and Santeri left yesterday. They enjoyed visiting us. They were not sure where they were going but they let me know that they went to Cartagena. They liked it less than Santa Marta. They would like to leave Colombia, but there is no inexpensive way to head north. There is NO road to Panama. The sea voyage by speed boat is very uncomforatable and costs more than $200. The airfares are very high, $280 to $360, for a half-hour flight. They are going to try to find a little village, somewhere NO tourist tread. We wish them well.

We are going to stay here another two weeks. Then we are going to Barranquilla for a few days. Then we will go to Cartagena for a couple of days. After that we will be going back to Florida. The cost of changing our tickets was almost what we paid for them to begin with. So the advertised $50 change fee at Spirit Airlines is totally false. One must pay $125 per ticket and the fare difference. The total change cost for the two of us $630, which is just about our original return ticket cost. Nuts!

Toasting Santeri
IMG_4071: Santeri Toasting

Posted by bill at 01:57 PM | Comments (3)