We have just spent 2 1/2 days doing high-interval paperwork exercises. From SC lines to the DIAN (customs, I think) to the Sociedad Portuaria and back and forth and forth and back. Or, I should say, Luc has spent 2 1/2 days doing this. I have spent this time sitting on metal benches in waiting rooms and corridors while Luc does the paperwork, has the interviews, attends the inspections. His is the only name on the titles. He disappears with his security clearance (and my notebook of documents and copies) into a metro-like turnstile. I open one of the books that Eric left for me and spend the next two hours on the Pacific Crest Trail with Cheryl Strayed. Then he reappears, I close my book, we take a taxi or a bus (depending on the heat and the urgency) to the next place, where he gets his badge, I open my book, and we do it again.
Though I have said more than once that I could not have done this trip without my kindle, it is a blessing to occasionally hold on to real books, and this is exactly the occasion. Thank you, Eric.
Cartagena is a walled city on the Caribbean sea, so our taxi and bus rides are scenic. It is probably all of the city we will see as tomorrow the boat, the Caroline Russ, leaves with our vehicles. And if our luck holds, we will be on the boat with them.
All that is left is the anti-narcotics inspection and our own immigration processing. Then 5 - 7 days crossing the Caribbean to Florida on a container ship. Sounds like exactly my kind of Caribbean cruise. I am loading up my kindle, assuming I will finish Deep Survival in one of the waiting rooms tomorrow morning.
In the meantime, both my waiting companions, Wild and Deep Survival, are highly recommended, on book or kindle, even if you don't have any waiting rooms in your near future.
In Colombia, we live a different life than most of the time we are on the road. In Cali, our van was parked outside an apartment building with armed guards who patrol the entrance and incredible views over the city from the pool and patios. Our friends take us to soccer games (Cali just won the title!!) in huge stadiums and send us to exotic places during the week when they are busy. Thanks to Ana Maria and Fernando, we have seen parts of Colombia we would have never sought out ourselves. We visited Salento in the zona cafetera, then Ladrilleros, on the ocean near Buenaventura, where we went out into the mangrove estuaries one day with a man named Manuel Nativos. We saw incredible mangroves, fish and fowl, indigenous villages, villages with newly installed cabanas for eco-tourism, and a part of Colombia generally reserved for Colombians.
Too bad this is an un-illustrated edition. Luc's computer failed to start up one day, due to either Pacific humidity or a failed mother-board. Until Florida and a new phone or computer, I am not creative enough to get photos from the camera to the internet.
One night we parked outside a hot springs. The approach reminded me why so much of South America feels like the 1950s (or at least my impression of what the US was like then). Open air restaurants and souvenir vendors lining the road. Every 50 feet a sign insisting the latest and greatest tourist information. I remember my grandmother talking about how much she loved the Jersey Shore in the summers when she lived in New York City. In my mind's eye, the difference here is just the language of the signage.
In Medellin we visited a beautiful botanical garden (though we couldn't enter the orchid palace because of a technology convention) and a museum full of Botero statues that seems incredibly heavy and at the same time filled with helium and ready to sail away.
Tonight we will have dinner with some Swiss friends that we first met in Ushuaia, who will soon load their rig onto a container ship bound for Vancouver. We have met so many wonderful people on our trip. Their courage and optimism and stories are the best reason to be on the road.
Returning to Cartagena has brought us full circle, back to the place where we were naive and nervous and pretending not to be afraid. I have absolutely no idea how we ran the paperwork gauntlet the first time with as little Spanish as we had. We feel excited to get on the boat tomorrow, wistful that this part of the journey is ending, and ready to come back for another chapter, hopefully sooner than later.
I'll be home soon, hopefully after a short stint riding shotgun as Jack drives.
Monday, May 25, 2015
|Marc and Luc, Sommerwind, Ecuador|
|Vina del Mar, Chile|
|El Cabo, Peru|
|El Chalten, Argentina|
|Puerto Deseado, Argentina|
|Perito Moreno, Argentina|
|Torres del Paine, Chile|
|Isla Negra, Chile|
|San Pedro de Atacama, Chile|
|Lago Ranco, Chile|
|Janique with Catriona, Ellie, Oso, Emelio, Twiglet, Sammy and half of Diego|
In Archidona we visited PlayaSelva, the rainforest eco-hostel of Margarita and her husband Rodrigo who we had met on the way down.
|Manfrido at PlayaSelva|
|Luc at PlayaSelva|
In Iberra, we stayed at the wonderful Sommerwind campground. We had met the owner, Hans, on our first trip through Ibarra, when he saw our rig at a mechanic and stopped to introduce himself and gave us his card. On our journeys we met many people who had stayed at his wonderful campground, including the Lally's who had spent Christmas there. We found many friends at Sommerwind: Marc and Carina from Belgium - traveling together on the back of a Honda TransAlp motorcycle, Michele and Gaetan from Orleans, France, who sold everything and piled their lives into a camping van, Karin and Manfred from Germany, Elisabeth and Leo from Switzerland, Catherine and Nicholas and their sweet sons Alexis and Valentin from Belgium. We stayed 5 days and only left the campground to run along the lake.
|Carina and Marc|
|Our friends at Sommerwind|
For me, the family reunions begin today. We will travel to Cali where we will stay with Ana Maria Casasfranco and her family, my exchange sister from over half a lifetime ago. Last night we talked on the phone - it felt like the day before Christmas. I am giddy with anticipation!
|me with Ana Maria|
Gallery of friends: