Sunday, May 15, 2011

The adventures of Cola, T-Dog, Stripper & Goose

I can't remember the last time I laughed as much as I did during my visit to Volcan de lodo el Totumo, a volcano that bubbles not with lava but with mud! It was with some apprehension that I reclined into the gloopy crater of mud and glided across its tepid boyant surface. A one of a kind bath that gets you very dirty, mud in places it should never be!

Cartagena is an enchanting colonial city on the Carribean coast, a maze of narrow streets and plazas surrounded by cobbled stone walls. Its a perfect place to laze away a couple of days while savouring the local rum con lemonade and fresh lime....which is exactly what I did.

After my mud bath it was as if the sweltering tropics had been transposed for the Arctic as I endured a 13 hour hypothermic bus journey to the once murder capital of the world Medellin. Other than being famed due to Pablo Escobar and drug cartels it is also home to good thermal winds optimal for paragliding. Having always thought that if reincarnated I would want to come back as a bird or maybe a butterfly, paragliding was at the top of my list for Medellin. 

High atop a steep hill my instructor and I, strapped together, ran downhill and the wind gently lifted us from the ground. Within minutes we were soaring, the city diminutive below us and the wind shrilling around us. I found the experience both exhillarating and terrifying and after a short stint airborne, feeling nausiated, I was quite happy to have two feet firmly back on solid ground.

One of my only enslavements in life, which I endure joyously is coffee and the other big C that Colombia is reknown for is just that so I abandoned the skies and headed to Zona Cafetera on a visit to Hacienda Venecia to roast some freshly harvested beans and get my daily caffine hit. I spent a torpid but wired afternoon in a hammock overlooking the plantation, sipping my cafe tinto and investigating how I might get myself to the rain sodden Parque Ucumari to do another trek.

After a day of buses, failed plans, waiting and more buses I arrived in the quaint town of Salento. Surrounding the town is the beautiful Valle de Cocora, a landscape of towering wax palms and a cloud forest with hundreds of Hummingbirds. Following a day of hiking we rewarded ourselves with some well deserved cervezas and a few dozen rounds of the Colombian national game. Only in Colombia would they have a national game that involves explosions!! To play "Tajo" you throw a lead weight at a clay pit which contains small envelopes of gunpowder. The envelopes are arranged around a metal circle in the centre and when struck by the lead weight they explode. Blowing shit up - a thoroughly entertaining way to spend an evening!

From Salento I headed further south and spent 24 hours in Colombia's Salsa capital of Cali, yet another noxious, over populated city with very little appeal, besides its nightlife apparently, which despite our best efforts we were not able to unearth.

I was beginning to feel a little antsy after what seemed like days of roving and seeking only to be halted at every turn. After yet another dragging bus journey I arrived in the inviting town of Popayan and almost immediately my wanderlust was reignited. Popayan is bursting with colonial charm, restaurants, bars and late night Salsa clubs so we armed ourselves with a 2L bottle of rum, lined our stomachs with the cheesy deliciousness of Mexican cantina and proceeded to cavort and salsa into the early hours.

The following morning as we rose and prepared for our day of hot springs and mountain biking there was a few sore heads and a couple of missing participants, after a sobering soak and 29km of mountain biking I am pleased to report we were all ready for yet another beer!

After the best part of 3 weeks together the adventures of Cola, T-Dog, Stripper & Goose are about to come to an end as we all head in our separate directions.... satisfied and grateful...

Super slimy and hilarious!


Mud bath anyone?

Just one beer...its after midday afterall
Boltero voluptuous
Sky high and shitting myself!

Run off the side of a big ass hill...sure why not
High above Medellin

Mmmm coffee
Indiana jones eat your heart out!
The wax palms of Valle Cocora

Well lathered....and loving it!

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