Thursday, September 25, 2008

¡Hola Colombia… Suramérica aquí venimos!

Almost one of the easiest journeys and border crossings to date. No real delays to speak of. Tiny propeller plane, that initially had us holding our breath and crossing our toes, but landed like a dream both times, putting Ryan Air and Easyjet to shame. Arrived in Cartagena, and got through customs with a smile and a quick chat, so easy! Then went to collect my bag. Oh. As soon as I asked its whereabouts one of the flight staff told me with a smile that it was still in Panama because there wasn't any room for it, even though I'd seen it on the tarmac as we were about to take off. How she knew it was my bag that had been left behind before I even gave her a description of it is beyond me. So, after I asked for a quick call to locate it for sure, we proceeded to fill in the necessary paperwork. The 2 girls helping me didn't seem too worried about my bag, and as they were taking my details and they discovered my name is the same as a famous Mexican singer, they began to serenade me with her songs. Bless! Lots of giggling, I'm thinking the formalities here are a bit strange, but whatever, so long as my bag shows up.

We finished for the moment with the bag dilemma, then moved on to the final customs check. This proved to be just as comical. My friend and I were stopped by 2 men in their army greens sitting at a table, wanting to check our bags (well, my friend's anyway). I think this whole bag checking thing is just a decoy to flirt with girls. They questioned us on where we were going, whether we had boyfriends, and if we'd like an accompanyment while we were here in Cartagena. Nice and professional boys! And a lovely entry into your wonderful country!

Flagged a taxi and headed towards a budget hotel, but beginning to display slight hesitation because both the airport staff and the taxi driver reacted with surprise and shock when we gave the address of our hotel, asking why we'd want to stay there. Anyway, being the penny savers that we've become, we stuck to our guns and continued to said budget hotel, and never looked back. It was close enough to the myriad of nightlife venues, the beautiful old town, and even closer to cheap food ( which we soon found out was a luxury in this part of the world).

We went out pretty much every night of the week, met some great travellers and locals alike, I did some much missed interpretive dancing with a couple of Norwegians and got some invitations for a night or 2 out on the town when I finally make it to Bogota. Starting to think that Colombians are lovely folk, and so far I'm absolutely thrilled to be here in their gorgeous country.

I had a moment of snap happy psychosis come over me and proceeded to take over 100 photos of Colonial architecture. No surprises there, I knew I would.

On our first day in Cartagena, we were led to a bar so we could celebrate finally making it to South America, and we got surrounded by 3 teenage boys, all with braces. My eyes did a quick sweep of the bar, and I spotted a few more metal filled mouths. That's the first time that I've seen that in a long while. I wander if it's because it's cheaper here, or because vanity plays a bigger role in the hearts and minds of fellow Colombians (am I in the land of beauty pagents? I think so). One thing's for sure, we've definitely landed in a wealthier country.

Ended up spending 6 days in Cartagena, towards the end of which we visited a volcano and swam inside, in its magical mud. In theory this would have been an extremely realxing activity, but I was so hungover I became claustrophobic and delerious, and found the whole situation so hilarious, I couldn't see through my tears of laughter. I think some of the folk trying to relax thought I'd lost my marbles. I think I did too. My friend ended up having to drag me out because I was stuck in the mud and couldn't move. Weeeeeee! Rinsed ourselves off in the lagoon, then went to a nearby beach to lunch on fried fish. Mmm...super tasty!

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