GLARRRRRRRRRRRRP colombia BLAHRRRRR Thursday, Jun 4 2009 

I´m in Colombia and I am lovin every second of it BABAY.
After a terrible 35 hour total (stopping in between) bus journey to Lima, I stayed the night and bought a plane ticket to Medellin for the next morning, at 5:50. As always, I thought to myself that 550 ain´t too bad a time to wake my lil self up, and ignored the fact that a 550 plane yields a 230 wake up time. So I cursed my ignorance and stayed up the whole night watching Benjamin Button, which was an amazing movie. This trip has been so good to me- lately I have been fascinated by death and life and everything that I´ve read and a lot of the movies I´ve seen confront those questions.

by the way, I´m nearly finished with For Whom the Bell Tolls (such a score in the book exchange) and it´s excellent.

SO, I got my little self to Medellin and immediately slapped my self across the head because I forgot my tent at my Lima hostel, cleverly hid under the bed, too cleverly hid for my poor forgetful self to remember. After 3 months of trekking around with this great burden of a tent, JUST to camp on the beach, and then to FORGET it right as I´m going to the beach? lame.

How are the people in Colombia, you say? THE BEST i´ve met in South America! So amazingly loving and friendly and trustworthy. More trustworthy than any other South Americans I´ve encountered. And that is a big deal when you´re a little lady going around solo. When I arrived in Bogotá, a kind man, a father of 5, bought me food and coffee as a surprise and sat down and talked to me about his wife and kids and politics and witchery for an hour. When I got in to Medellin, there were so many guys who went out of their ways to help me stay safe in the night time. It´s great! not to mention that everybody, strangers and family alike, calls one another ´mi amor.´ That is a healthy amount of love for a country.

But there are also some scary things about Medellin- bastánte gente loca. I was literally the only traveller I saw all day, a rare rare thing. Everyone looked at me surprised that I wasn´t scared to come here by myself. There are more homeless than I´ve seen in all my travels in Medellín, and not the kinds that you can be friends with. Lots of tarted-up junkie guys sell their bodies on the main roads at night, which is too bad, I don´t want to know what happens to them. There is also a huge population of roaming homeless, parentless children under the age of 12, their feet tarred with months of city barefootness, their mouths blistery, their faces sad. I talked to a man at my hotel about them, and he said that nobody helps them, not the government, nor the church, nor any non profit organization. I have to return and help them. They are a scary bunch, and they run in packs down the streets at night.

I left the next morning after eating a delicious bunuelo (try this if you are in a Latin neighborhood, the best fried thing you can eat for breakfast, ever). The bus to Santa Marta was 16 hours of rolling green, fluffy, voluptuous colombian mountains sprinkled with cows. Lots of men dressed in suits of ammo and automatic guns roam the streets.

I´m going to miss South American bus rides. There´s always one old lady and one little kid that I become best friends with, without fail. At the end, when we part, the most we can give to each other is saying that we love the other and telling them to take care of themselves mucho.

SO, I got to Santa Marta in the middle of the night, and me and this funny little lady of 60 years searched near and far for a hotel, except –>I<– knew where it was all the while, and she kept on insisting no, no, and ringing the doorbells of poor families at 2 am. It was a laugh. We shared a bed in the hotel to save money, this stranger lady and I. She was a great character in her shiny black heels.

THEN I immediately went to Taganga, 45 minutes outside the city of Santa Marta. It´s a tiny fishing village where the waves roll slowly and the donkeys pull carts along the dirt roads. Every day I engorge my belly with cup after cup of all varieties of fruit juice. Ones to note: Tomates del Arból, tree tomatoes, that taste unlike anything I´ve ever tried, very delicious. Also, Zapote, Carambola, Maracujá (passion fruit). It´s the lamest thing about where I live, the lack of fruit. Our variety of native fruits is no good.

I WENT SCUBA DIVING TODAY! It was completely amazing! So exhausting! I freaked out when I got to the bottom, because my brain was telling me that I shouldn´t be able to breathe under water. This messed with my heart rate and my breathing was stressed. After that it was all smooooth sailing. The fish are SO COOL, they don´t give a crap that you are swimming right up in to their business, they just carry on. They are so graceful and beautiful. My dive instructor was hitting on me SO HARD in such a smooth latino way- he kept on holding my hand under the water, which I at first thought was regular dive procedure, but came to find that it was just part of his strategy. Distracting to have a colombian man caressing my hand exessively while I´m trying to soak in the wonders of life under water!

I spent the whole night yesterday drinking 75 cent beers and pulling ticks off of this cute little dog with cocked ears. I think he´s sick because for hours he sits in one place and looks out smiling, tilting his head, looking at the goings on about town. He doesn´t even flinch for the girl dog who´s in heat, who has literally 20 or so boy dogs chasing her around in triangular formation, head mate dog in front, dog who´s not gon´tap that at the back. He´s a cute dog. I wish I could take him home with me, but instead I just slip him my leftovers. We have some sort of understanding.

apologies for making this so long, but I must tell you this hilarious thing. There are two black sheep wandering around the beach, seemingly following me everywhere I go! What are they doing here?! None of the locals know what brought them here. There´s DEFINITELY no grass to munch on. They are probably spying on us humans and plotting a revolt.

That´s all for now. I head to Parque Nacional Tayrona Friday, after I get certified for diving.

http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/travel/11Explorer.html?scp=1&sq=tayrona%20park&st=cse

Love, blessings to all.

OH mah lowdy lord i have so much to say, but I don´t have the time to write it all down! Wednesday, Mar 25 2009 

So, since I last updated everybody a lot has happened.

In Iquitos, after using the internet cafe, Johanna and I went to an animal rescue place in the middle of an island in the Amazon River. It was started by an Austrain woman who really liked butterflies and wanted to protect them. There I got to see a lot of the butterflies that make the Amazon famous– but that’s not the cool part of this story. The funny thing is that we always had to watch our backs because SNEAKY monkeys were always trying to rob us.

The monkeys had been raised by street children to rob everybody they see. A monkey named Toni stole a 5 soles coin from me and put it in his mouth. he also took my dads old lens cover, but thankfully he didnt think that it was that cool. I also saw a jaguar named Pedro, kept in a cage way too little for him. They said that they would release him to the wild soon.

BUT, my favorite of all was lucas the Tapir.

Lucas the Tapir getting a belly rub

Lucas the Tapir getting a belly rub!

After a long day of seeing all sorts of cute animals, Johanna and I boarded the boat to Santa Rosa.

The boat was really cheap, and we were able to give our hammock to an old man who was going to sleep on the floor, which felt really good.

===

SO: We arrived in Santa Rosa, and the first step i took out of the boat i fell knee deep in to mud, to the great excitement of all the locals. It was really funny trying to get out of the mud, and that made me happy. We had a couple of really huge, cold beers to celebrate our arrival. Theres nothing better than a cold beer when your slowly traveling through the amazon, which has not one cold thing about it. We took a boat to Tabatinga, Brazil, and, as it was too dark to find the shamans house, we stayed in a hostel. The hostel owners taught us how to make traditional amazon drink with cachaza (fermented sugar cane) and lots of lemons.We played cards with them all night and dominated the competition.

The next day, after finding out that the owners of the hostel had paid for johannas share of the room (people here LOVE here blue eyes) we set out to find the shaman. After a hazardous 20 minute ride on a motorcycle, we arrived at a small gate. Turning around, I saw an old man carrying 20 fish and a lot of groceries smile and give me a thumbs up.

It turns out that he is the shaman, Seu Pancho. He speaks a little Spanish, but mostly Portuguese. Most of the time we understand each other by smiling (I cant help smiling when I see him!) and giving each other thumbs up, of which he is so fond. I found out that He is 99 years old, which I could NOT believe. He walks hours every day to the market to buy food for his family, and chops and carries wood all day long without effort! I congratulated his strength and health, and shook his hand after I found out that he has over 80 grandchildren, all of which he loves and spends a lot of time with. He is a hero all around town, and it seems like he gives a nod, a smile and a thumbs up to every other person he sees.

He met his wife when she was 13 and he was 19 (according to him) or 25 (according to her) and they got married within months. Theyve been married for 70 years now. The math of their stories is hazy, but its all the same.

All around their property are fallen fruits and little animals. There is a tiny baby pig who runs around adventuring with tiny baby kittens. There are a couple of really cocky rooters.ha. and a couple of hens/vigilantes with their little baby chicks. Its really a paradise, minus the MOSQUITO OVERLOAD! But thats alright with me, it builds character. I dont have any mosquito repellent but I dont really think it makes a difference.

I am staying in a grass hut on the edge of their property in a hammock. In this grass hut is a 41 year old, really really nice and quiet black guy from the northern coast of brazil. Hes been travelling endlessly for the past 25 years of his life, working a little in every town to pay for his food and his other expenses. He is SO TALENTED. It made me smile to jam with him as he was playing (masterfully, which is really hard to achieve!) the Berimbau . It was the best music I have heard in a LONG time, and it really fed my soul. He is a capoeira master, even though he cant walk on one leg because of a soccer accident when he was little. He also has perfect pitch and can mimic all the sounds of each rainforest animal at night.

Speaking of music, every night here I make myself fall asleep by picking out all the different sounds of the rainforest! There are so many different things to be heard: differences between males and females, mammals, insects, etc.

i only have 2 minutes left on my computer

BYE

Here in Iquitos Friday, Mar 20 2009 

Hey everyone I just got off of the three day river boat from Miraguas to Iquitos, Peru. I spent most of my time sleeping in a hammock, which is really comfortable, and looking out the window at the jungle. Looking at the jungle can get old after a while, because it´s only on the horizon and looks the same pretty much all the time.

There are lots of tiny villages of grass huts that cluster together every now and then on the river side. These are the most interesting to look at, because sometimes I can see little kids paddling a hollowed out tree down the river or running around the green, green grass together.

On the boat we were packed in like sardines- I was surrounded on both sides by mothers who nonchalantly whipped out their boobies and nursed their babies a couple of inches away from my face. So many boobs in one place!

There are these cute little kids who I play with, and I felt I should give them my hotwheels car that I had brought with me to give as a gift to the ‘chosen children,’ whoever they might be.  So I gave the car to a shy and humble and nice little boy who reminded me of myself. But (I should have remembered this!) His brutish older brother tore it from his hands and said he would sell it for 5 soles ($1.50) when he got home. This kid was the oldest child and spent most of his time kicking his 5 year old sister and wagging the hotwheels car in their faces to make them cry of despair. After a thourough dose of the evil eye and my stern demand to ´compartir,´he gave in.

I became famous among the children on the boat for teaching how to make paper airplanes. I was really surprised that they didn´t know about paper airplanes! Unfortunately all of the paper airplanes loop-d-looped through the boat, landing on the faces of sleeping adults, to the delight of the little kids.

Today my watch was stolen, probably by that little boy who would not share the hotwheels car with his siblings. It was really really cheap, and I didn´t ask himto give it back because with the money he sells that for he will probably be able to indulge himself with an hour of playing playstation at a playstation café, and I thought that that was a fair trade-off, since I got to play playstation for free when I was little.

It seems like Johanna and I are the only ones who haven´t seen any pink dolphins! what a shame- I´m sure we´ll see some on our way back. I did, however, see a 6 foot long black snake sprinting across the road before, and also have had two beetles that look like tanks jump on to my body. They are huge! About 4 and a half inches long.

I am so surprised every night by how dark it gets here. There is no light pollution, so I can see all of the stars!

ALSO! To my disdain everybody here seems to think that the Amazon River is a great place to put all of your trash. The trash cans on board are an arbitrary thing to satisfy the law that there can be no dumping in to the river- but the workers on board just dump all of the contents in to the river anyways. I really hate this.

I was thinking about buying a baby duck for a pet, because they are so cute and only would cost me 30 us cents! And kittens and puppies around here are practically free, they are just running around everywhere for the taking. Against my better judgement, I will resist the temptation.

Today I leave for the border  (Triple-frontera),which will take me 2 days on a boat. I wont be able to communicate for much time until then! After this, I´m flying back to Lima and heading to Ica and Arequipa and then  Cuzco for Easter weekend.

By the way- apparently the rains in Peru have been really really strong. 30 people have died or something. Here you will find pictures of the broken bridge that was holding us up for a couple of days-

http://www.elcomercio.com.pe/noticia/258629/desborde-rio-gera-deja-aislado-al-distrito-moyobamba

also- sorry, no pictures yet! Last time I tried but I have been having a lot of trouble on these computers. I cant figure out how to save the pictures to my memory card in the spanish-language program. I promise I will put pictures up at my next convenience.

C

wow, i can´t believe this is actually happening Saturday, Mar 14 2009 

So I am leaving for the amazon rainforest today, which is in the complete opposite direction from where I was planning on going. I’m psyched to be floating on a boat down the amazon for six days, and just in case, Johanna and I stole a ton of toilet paper from the local McDonalds (there are SO MANY MCDONALDS HERE).

Speaking of which, I am really surprised and overwhelmed by the depth and meaninglessness of the consumption here. It seems like that buying and selling impractical, shiny and brightly colored things is great fun for the locals. I am really excited to leave this place and go into the jungle, because I am really stressed by the radical and chaotic pulse of this town! Although it is very interesting to observe, I´d just rather be elsewhere.

Know what else sucks?! I still haven´t eaten any ceviche, and that is the only thing I really wanted to do in Lima. I guess I’ll get some on the way back from the jungle. There are casinos everywhere here, and the horns are comically pitched. They sound like the panpipes that are played on the buses everywhere. South park did a really accurate impression of Peruvian panpipe players. If you´ve seen that South Park episode, you´ve got a pretty accurate impression.

Music is everywhere on the streets, but most of the time it´s Queen (last night they were blasting that song about honesty) or Mariah Carey. Luckily I saw a live salsa band playing in the streets of lima! But I didn´t have time to stay and dance because Ulises was rushing me along. I saw a ton of prostitutes yesterday! Mostly really dirty and scantily clad women standing with their vag´s out to the world or transexuals with ambiguous man-boobs wearing makeup.

Drivers are agressive and not very talented! Johanna said that in Germany it is really hard to get a drivers license because it is the best place to drive in the world. ¡She failed her drivers test, which cost her 2,000 euro!

 

alright everybody, please send me all of your good luck because i will need it! I´ll tell you about the jungle as soon as I can. Also, you can look forward to a riveting account of local shamanistic medicinal practices! Somehow that sounds too clinical.

love love love

 

caroline

 

ps. hello to my siblings, if you are actually reading this right now! I love and miss you guys

oh babay Saturday, Mar 14 2009 

Hey everybody!

I know what you guys are thinking- where the F are the pictures!? Well, that’s too bad you’re just going to have to suck it up until I have some. I haven’t been carrying around my camera because Ulises tells me people are robbed all the time in exactly the places that I always happen to be, so I decided I should leave my camera home for the meantime. I started my day playing chess with ulises- i think we were pretty evenly matched. We then took a bus for 20 minutes to the center of lima which cost only 30 cents in usa money. Me and this german chick Johanna just decided spontaneously that instead of leaving for Ica and Huacachina tomorrow, as I had planned, we are going to take a 6 day trip into the rainforest. (6 days covers the commute there). Its a 24 hour bus ride, and then 6 days living on a rickety old boat floating down the amazon river. When we arrive at our destination, a tiny town on the border of brazil and colombia, we will live with a shaman named sao pancho for a couple of days, and then we will return to civilization.

basically, I probably won’t have access to internet for a while, though i will try to keep as in-touch as possible. If you’re sad because I wont be around to write, just think about all of the SWEET amazon rainforest pics I’m going to send home!

keep the faith

caroline

ps. what does keep the faith even mean? for some reason i felt like writing that