Colombia 2014 Post 10 – final for this trip – March 3 – 6, 2014
(Deni) Well, the play in the park in Barranquilla turned out to be pretty fun. The actors, dancers, and extras were all children. We could understand nothing – but they performed with great enthusiasm. My personal favorites were the dancing bags. I was amused when I counted 20 police “guarding” the park where the play was taking place. That explains why there were so few police available to help us the night before – they were busy guarding kids’ plays!
Monday we stood in line for an hour-and-a-half waiting for the music festival to start. Nothing associated with Carnival started on time, so I don’t know why we were surprised. We were told the music would be classical. Silly us – it wasn’t western classical; it was Colombian classical. It might have been enjoyable except that it was in a stadium and the speakers were so loud it was unbearable to listen to. So, we left. Bummer. (Bob – we had to walk two blocks away to hear the very bad music blasting out of the stadium at near normal listening levels.)
Tuesday was the last and best day of Carnival. We went to a dance festival that was pretty cool – especially the costumes. (It reminded me of a Sweet Adeline competition. The same dances were performed numerous times by different groups, just as the same song may be performed over and over again at contest. I got very tired of one about a crocodile.)
Then we hurried off to the final parade – a very informal affair that was loads of fun. The point of the parade was to say goodbye to Carnival 2014. There were women dressed in black pretending to sob and wail. There were guys in hospital beds representing the dying festival. There were men in drag dancing along the route for no apparent reason. We both thought it was way better than the formal parades. And nothing got stolen!
A sweet thing happened on our way to the parade. One of the cops who had helped us with our robbery report was driving by and stopped to make sure we were OK and the passport issue was getting straightened out. We assured him that all was well. He was happy to know that we were going to be OK.
Wednesday we flew to Bogota without a hitch. We got settled at our hostel and Coop bustled off to the embassy to get the passport process started. That evening we had a wonderful dinner at an Italian restaurant. In Bangladesh the best restaurant meals were either in Chinese or Thai restaurants. Here in Colombia, we’ve found the Italian restaurants to be uniformly good. We enjoyed our meal and our visit with the restaurant’s owner. She is originally from Sardinia. She studied languages in school and then went out into the world to use her language skills. She got to Colombia and fell in love with the people and with Bogota. Her brother had a dream to own a restaurant, so he came over, followed by their mom. We met the family, the cook, and the waiter – all delightful people. The food and friendship was so great that we went there again Thursday night for our final “Colombian” meal.
Thursday morning we went to the US embassy to pick up the passport. I felt a certain amount of patriotism as I stepped onto the embassy grounds. It was something to think about – here in this foreign country, when I’m on the grounds of the embassy, I’m on US soil. Cool.
After we got the passport in hand, we went to a museum we’d missed when first here. Then we poked through some tourist stores, got some money changed back into dollars, and now we’re doing our final post. Home tomorrow!
When we were here at the start of our trip, we had planned on visiting the cathedral built in a salt mine north of town. But we missed it because I had left our camera in a restaurant and by the time the restaurant opened the next day and we had retrieved it, it was too late to go. So, we were going to do it on the full day we had in Bogota on our way home. But, the passport thing took up too much time. The message is clear – we need to take better care with our stuff when we travel!!
(Bob) After six weeks in Colombia we can say we’ve experienced a lot of different environments from the Andes to the coast. We’ve enjoyed the friendly people; that experience has been universal from the small rural villages to the big cities. There are many interesting and beautiful places. Sure, each of the cities has an older or poorer section that isn’t so great. But so do cities in other countries. There have clearly been a lot of government investment as well as US and European companies investing in Colombia. The infrastructures of transport, power, and communication are universally quite good, so it’s easy to travel and be a tourist in Colombia. We highly recommend this as a country to experience.
When we flew from Barranquilla on the Caribbean coast the daytime temperature dropped from 90 to 65 degrees (32 to 18 C). Tomorrow when we fly home we’ll drop another 15 degrees (8C). We’re already wearing our sweaters or coats in the evening here in Bogota. It will be tough being cold again at home. But hopefully the early flowers are starting to bloom. The vegetable garden will be ready to plant soon.
(Deni) Some pluses and minuses of our trip:
- Minus – Stolen stuff at Carnival rated as a major downer. Plus – The police did everything they could to help us get the report filed and were very kind and thoughtful.
- Minus – Colombian food is sort of boring and is carb based (at least the food we could afford.) Plus- Italians have established restaurants in the bigger cities. Viva l’Italia.
- Minus – Colombian taxi and bus drivers are crazy. Plus – We lived to tell about it.
- Minus – It was not always easy to figure out how to get where we wanted to go. Plus –A kind Colombian was always there to make sure we got it figured out and were safely on our way.
- Minus – Sometimes, Coop’s hearing difficulties and the rapidity with which folks spoke Spanish made it hard to figure out what they were saying. Plus – With lots of mime, hand gestures, and Colombian patience, we got things sorted out.
- Minus – It took forever for clothes to dry in the humid areas. Plus – We were having 80 degree weather instead of snow and rain!!!
So, not many minuses at all – and always a positive to counter balance the negative. We loved the Colombian people and the beauty of the country. If there weren’t so much of the world left to see and if time weren’t running out (we’ll probably not be able to continue this kind of travel for too much longer), we’d go back again. But, there’s a whole world out there left to explore. We’ll keep you posted on our next adventure. Thanks for reading our blog.
Bob and Deni