May I Change My Mind? Part 2 of 2, in which I do!

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote,
To travel is to live.”

― Hans Christian Andersen

Part 1 of this “Colombia cities” blog offered a few hints as to how I learned to travel calmly in Colombia, where there was much that could have been difficult. With a week’s perspective, the challenges have faded a bit, and the beauty, newness and awe come forward.

I browsed the hundreds of photos that I took during our six weeks in Colombia, and offer the following gallery of favorites; hoping they summarize better than words the many things in which I found true delight during the journey.

Joyful Colors...

Joyful Colors…

Cartagena Mural...

Cartagena Mural…

Beach Beauty in Tayrona

Beach Beauty in Tayrona

Bliss...near Tayrona

Bliss…near Tayrona

Coffee Culture, Hacienda Venecia

Coffee Culture, Hacienda Venecia

Vista in Salento

Vista in Salento

Popayan Silouette

Popayan Silhouette

Guambino Gentlemen, Silvia

Guambino Gentlemen, Silvia

Just Look Up!  Gamboling Statues...

Just Look Up! Gamboling Statues…

Locks...

Locks…

Lusciousness Everywhere

Lusciousness Everywhere

People, colors, food, nature, art…you can find them everywhere; and everywhere different. So much to learn!

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Bogota, Medillin, Cali…A City is a City is a ? Part 1 of 2

#blogguilt? Yep, six fascinating, challenging weeks exploring Colombia and we’re already across the border in Ecuador (more on that “interesting” experience in Part 2!).

We spent a lot of time in Colombia’s large cities, learning that as beautiful as the surrounding mountains might be, the cities themselves leave a bit to be desired. To be fair, Bogota (8mil), Medillin (4mil), & Cali (4mil) are just rougher versions of many other million plus population cities around the world – traffic is horrendous and diesel/gas fumes reek – walking is not a lot of fun. Until we get city transit issues sorted out and move away from private cars to public, shared & more environmentally sustainable transportation, the world’s largest cities will continue to be increasingly difficult places to live as they grow. (And that’s my quasi-political/social statement for this blog.)

But Colombia’s big cities offer a good look at the country’s history, its art (fantastic), and a peek at how a tourist industry (while not quite in its infancy – hello, Cuba?) is developing. If you’re planning a visit to Colombia and want to do it without a glossy tour company, be aware -you’ll need the following:

Patience – you’ll be taking buses much of the time, and there are generally not set hours for departure. You will go the terminal, search for a suitable bus line (vendors stand about calling destinations), and either find yourself among the first or last to board…and then, only when the bus is FULL will it depart! Along the route, the bus will stop to let passengers off any old place…despite having told you the bus is “direct” (this does NOT mean “non-stop”.) As seats are emptied, the bus will stop along the route to allow others to board, including vendors who offer drinks, fruits, banana chips…and yes, these impromptu snacks can be delicious.

Earplugs – ah, those buses again. Usually, the music will be turned on, loudly, immediately, and constantly throughout the trip, whether 1 hour or 6. Be prepared.

Toilet paper – if you like more than a couple of squares, you’ll be happier if you put a packet of tissues in your pocket before you venture out. You’ll usually pay for the use of the toilet at bus terminals. And, if you’re female, be prepared for lidless toilets…great for the thigh muscles as you attempt to pee without touching the ceramic.

Ok, tips on how to “journeywise” out of the way.

We loved visiting the main plazas in Colombia’s cities – many are named for Simon Bolivar, the “Liberator.” Statues varied from a soldierly and solemn Bolivar to a “Bolivar as Condor” in Manizales, and naked Bolivar on a horse in Pereira…along with your run-of-the-mill busts. The gentleman was everywhere doing good deeds, until he ran into political and financial difficulties and ended his life in exile.

Bolivar Nude - Pereira

Bolivar Nude – Pereira

Museums and outdoor art were also a complete pleasure. From Botero sculptures to murals and graffiti, Colombia (whether on purpose or not) has encouraged a public sharing of exuberant art – it’s everywhere, splashing color along highways, streets, alleys and parks. While most is “art” for art’s sake, there is also plenty of politically motivated art relating to both indigenous peoples and the FARC guerrilla movement. More photos are available on Instagram @tojourneywise and commentary about traveling, organic agriculture and random thoughts on the journey on Twitter @tojourneywise. Enjoy!

Botero Sculpture

Botero Sculpture

Wall Mural Medillin

Wall Mural Medillin

Part 2 coming soon, more on Colombia’s big cities next time…then on to Ecuador!

Chiva Bus - Colombia

Chiva Bus – Colombia

California, Dreaming…

Gallery

This gallery contains 35 photos.

We’re going to just go ahead and put California on a permanent wish list of places to live, and that’s where it will probably stay.  Perhaps if we’d bought that old Victorian in the Haight back in 1981 for $135,000, … Continue reading

Back in the U.S.A.! Ahhh.

Glimpse of Mt. Rainier

Glimpse of Mt. Rainier

Ahhh, Washington!  The state, that is.  Now this is a place we could live.  We’ve been here many times, and seem to keep coming back.  That should tell us something.  But…we haven’t experienced the full range of seasons, and that’s a project we plan to undertake in the coming year or so:  identify those special places that we feel we might call “home” for a while, and then settle in each one of them for a trial run.  Not everyone is lucky enough to have that flexibility and we’re grateful that we do.  We blew through Washington this time, staying with friends in Seattle who are long time East Coast transplants, and excellent, practical guides to their city.  What did we find or reconfirm this time around?  Good coffee?  Check!  Great farm markets?  Check!  Water sports? Check!  Museums? Check!  And the list goes on, and on, and on.  Will Seattle or somewhere close by prove to be “our spot?”  Time (lots of it there, in the rain, and the wind, and the gray, and the sunshine…) will tell.

Seattle Farm Market Offering

Seattle Farm Market Offering

Street Art

Street Art

We followed up on a serendipitous meeting we’d had while in the Grand Tetons, where we met artist Ian McMahon, who had just installed “Cascade” at the Suyama Space (http://www.suyamaspace.org/installations/ian-mcmahon-cascade) in downtown Seattle.  We visited the installation of two fragile, beautiful plaster curtains, which were illuminated by the sun coming through ceiling height windows…curtains that draped like fabric yet were solid and lovely, perplexing, intriguing.

 

Cascade: Plaster Curtains Installation

Cascade: Plaster Curtains Installation

Art exploration was a theme on this visit to Seattle, where we encountered formal works like Ian’s, and found others – like the popsicle street sculpture and the fragile shattered window, below.

Shattered:  Street Window

Shattered: Street Window

We left Seattle determined to get back to the Lewis & Clark Trail, which we’d last seen in South Dakota, many weeks ago.  We headed south from Seattle, planning to rejoin the expedition’s path near the mouth of the Columbia River, at a place William Clark called “Dismal Nitch,” pretty much summing up how they felt as they finally approached their goal of the Pacific Ocean in late 1805.  No fresh food, rotting clothing, miserable weather, and a race to see if they could reach the coast before the final trading ship of the season had come and gone.  They didn’t.  A storm kept them confined to the north shore of the great Columbia, and they missed the ship, though as we know, the Corp of Discovery eventually did reach the magnificent shore of the Pacific Ocean.  Dismal Nitch was still kind of dismal in 2014 – we were there on a windy, misty, gray day, and we spent just a few minutes looking at the river and signage about the Expedition, then zipped across the river to Oregon and the Corp of Discovery’s Fort Clatsop – their winter home.  We were now in Oregon, where I (at least) have high hopes of making our own fortuitous discoveries!

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”   Martin Buber