Colombia, from Cartagena to Cali (Day 367)

Hola, mis amigos!  In my last week in Colombia, I visited the famous city of Cartagena.  I´m not much of a city or architecture guy, but the old part of this city is beautiful.  About 500 years ago it was an important Spanish port.  Lots of treasure passed through here, so it got attacked by pirates all the time.  So, they built a huge wall around the inner city (as you do when you keep getting attacked by pirates, obviously.)  It was a great place to hang out, except for the oppressive heat which was slowly killing me (you would think I would be used to it after so much time in Asia.)

Here is a little colonial architecture in Cartagena.  The rest of the old city is comprised of little streets and big, overhanging balconies.  Very cool.

There is an interesting tourist attraction just outside of Cartagena:  Volcan de Lodo El Totumo.  Normal volcanoes erupt lava and ash.  This one bubbles up mud from underground.  People have taken to climbing into the crater of the volcano for a swim.  Quite odd.  Obviously, I had to try it.  Once you are in, you are stuck!  You can´t move, and you can´t swim.  The only way to move around in the mud is to grab on to something (or someone?) and pull yourself.  The whole thing is quite unnerving until you accept that fact you are immobile.  Then you find that it is quite relaxing.

Volcano-mud-dipping.  Looks inviting doesn’t it?  I have seen a lot of stuff, but this I have never seen.

After Cartagena, I slid south to Cali.  Before I get started on that story, here is a quick How To video:  Near Cali lies the village of San Cipriano. Getting to San Cipriano is quite unconvential. There are no roads into the village. The only way in is via a railway track, but they don´t have any trains. So, they have figured something else out. Here is how it´s done:

This kind of thing just doesn´t happen back home.

My friend Bart´s girlfriend, Kate, lives in Cali.  She and her friends (very cool people) took me out partying Saturday night.  We went to a great club, the kind I rarely get to go to.  The whole situation was exactly where I wanted to be:  while the other gringos in town are hanging with each other, I am out out with these great local people, in a great club, being introduced to lots of people, etc.  It is one of those situations travellers live for.  I am lucky to be there.  Plus, I´m in Cali, Colombia, so I´m surrounded by beautiful women.  Now, in this situation, a normal person would behave and enjoy their good fortune.

But, oh no, not this guy.  I proceed to kill too much of a bottle vodka in way too little time.  This is a bad idea for many reasons, not the least of which is that I´m 30 years old and don´t drink vodka.  I still don´t really know how it happened.  Anyway, it´s not long before my night is done.  When the others are going somewhere else to continue the good times.  I´m stumbling towards a cab to go home because I am now incoherent.  Haha, what a guy I am.

Partying in Cali.  On the left is Kate, on the right is Luca, a cool guy from Italy who now lives in Colombia.  I was introduced to the other two guys, good men, but the vodka has destroyed the part of my memory that stored their names.  (Pic from Edward Artunduaga´s facebook, I hope he doesn´t mind.)

Nonetheless, I had a great night.  Many thanks to Kate and her crew.  I think the partying in Cali is great fun.  I would have done more of it had I not been hung over for the next 3 days :)

With a heavy heart I have left Colombia.  I spent 6 weeks there, longer than any other country on my trip.  I think that is saying something.  What´s amazing is that, even after all the good stuff I experienced there, I have left so much untouched.  Did you know Colombia has snow-capped peaks, waiting to be trekked?  True story.  On my photos page, I have put up an album of Colombia pics.  Enjoy.

I am now in Ecuador.  The early polls suggest that Ecuador and I will get along quite well.  In a couple days I fly to the famous Galapagos Islands to see what Charles Darwin made all the fuss about.  I´ll let you know what I find.

Hasta luego,
– Shawn

PS:  Yesterday I celebrated an anniversary:  I have been travelling the world for one year.  Man, what a year it has been!  I am looking forward to the next one.  (I celebrated with beer.)

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