Update

I’m in riosucio now, on the atrato river. From here it’s not far from panama. There are supposedly quite many paths from here to panama. We’ll see how it goes.

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Arauca to Quibdo

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Every commercial vehicle has a sticker asking people to call the ministry of transportation to tell them how the driver of that vehicle is driving.

 

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Breakfast in Quibd贸

 

 

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Gold! Mined close to Quibd贸. There’s supposedly quite a lot of it.

 

 

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Even more space-efficient than in Africa!

 

 

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While I was walking along the road, I didn’t even have to wave for these guys to pick me up and give me a ride… Previously I had tried waving at cars but no one had stopped. Maybe it had to do with that I had just gotten a haircut, so I looked less of a bum than before…

I wasn’t even planning to go to Quibdo that day, but then, while waiting for the road to be cleared up after a landslide, they found a truckdriver who was going there, so I joined him:

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Notice the police. Previously there were hardly any police controls, but as soon as we entered the department of Choc贸, which everyone says has guerilla presence, there were lots of them.

 

 

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Cheese. Doesn’t taste much.

 

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Boats on the Rio Atrato.

 

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Breakfast, about $2.5.

 

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In quibdo, 90% of people are black. On black guy said that white and black get along perfectly, they live in the same parts of town, marry each other, etc, but most commerce is run buy the whites, which he thinks is a bit off since the black people are more intelligent 馃榾

 

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Is stayed with this guy, Dar铆o, yesterday. (I mean the live guy, not the dead guy). The dead guy is his nephew, 21 years old, who was shot on the street last night by gangsters, probably because they confused him with someone else. Luckily, he says that this happens very seldomly. Me too, I could see that this is not a bad place. People are out on the streets and even women walk around alone. No one seems afraid.

 

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Lunch in Dar铆o’s home. Very delicious.

 

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Playing an internet trivia game with Dar铆o’s brother and sister in law.

 

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Dario uses these huge concrete weights to keep in shape… I better not mess with him.

 

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“Droga para la potencia sexual”…

 

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The police is very strict with requiring that al motorcyclists wear helmets, which makes it impossible to hitch-hike with them if you don’t have a helmet yourself.

 

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Growing coffee and bananas in the same field. Seems efficient.

 

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Scenic road between Viterbo and Ap铆a.

 

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Cozy central square of Ap铆a.

 

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Funny they have a display showing the speed of the bus. Seems very accurate.

 

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Lots of indigenous people in Pueblo Rico. They like to wear nice colourful dresses.

 

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These indigenous girls are carrying big bones in improvised backpacks to their home outside town…

 

I went to the police hre in Quibd贸 to ask if I can have an exit stamp in my passport. I was honest to them about going to Panama over land, and they didn’t even say it’s dangerous or anything! After some running around between the police and the immigration offices, they finally told me that the immigration is closed today but that I don’t really need a stamp anyway. I hope they are right!

 

Next time I write I’ll hopefully be in Panama. I’m going to walk a bit along the river. Taking the boat is ridiculously expensive, about $70 from here to Riosucio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bogota to Aruca

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Arrived in bogota in the afternoon of May 8. These people gave me a lift to a cheap hotel in the downtown.

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Big but worn out buildings.

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Some parts of town look nice.

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But there are many homeless.

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In daytime, there seems to be one military in each corner.

I was tired after the trip, so I took a nap in the afternoon. At about 2100 I wanted to go and get some kind of dinner. The woman in the reception was surprised I wanted to go out at that time. She said to go right, because going left was unsafe. There weren’t many people outside and it felt a bit strange. Everything was closed. Found someone selling grilled meat at a corner. Had one spit or chicken. Homeless people bothered me to give them money or whatever. I’m not used to the spanish accent here so I didn’t understand them. Went back to the hotel, but one man followed me all the way, constantly talking about something. I asked the receptionist who he is? “Guy of the street”. I asked if he was dangerous, expecting she would say no, but she said yes he is… Was still hungry, but I went back to my room to eat Skittles until my mout was sore… Well, better hungry than sorry!

Next day I went to Mariquita. Cute town. Chatted around. No one seemed to want to offer me a place to stay. But I didn’t want to go to a hotel again. Started walking towards my next destination, but after the last house of the village, I didn’t feel secure. Chatted with the people in the last house, who said there are hotels for about 7 dollars. I asked if I could sleep on their floor for $3, and they said ok.

This is their house:

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I head their oldest son and oldest daughter discuss something about mice, and I thought they talked about why their cat was so skinny. But then the girl took out a computer mouse of her backpack, and explained that she had taken it because the boy plays too much computer games! He ran off to the computer and played almost the whole night.

The youngest but was a good student, studying math all night. They has a 3 month old girl also, very cute.

They gave me dinner: rice with stirfried egg and deepfried plaintain slices. Delicious.

We went to bed really early, about 2100, they gave me a bed with mosquito net, and I fell asleep under the deafening sound of heavy rain against metal roof.

Got the same thing for breakfast as for dinner. I tried to give them $6 for the stay and the food, but they refused.

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Inside their house.

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Birds drying their wings after the night’s rain.

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For some reason, they measure their fuel in gallons… It’s about $4.6 per gallon.

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“If you feel dizzy, ask for a bag.”

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The fact that there are bullet holes are from both sides makes me think that someone wasn’t just practicing his shooting skills… People say things are much better than before, though, no rebels around any more.

I’m now in Manizales. Will try to go to Quibd贸 and then take a boat down the Rio Atrato, and then on some smaller river towards the Panamanian border. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes!

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Finished packing

This is the final result of carefully selecting what is most necessary to bring on a three month trip though Central America, that will include walking through at least one jungle (the Dari茅n region of Panama, on the border to Colombia), in the rainy season.

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It includes:

  • a backpack (it’s very simple, with only to compartments, and it weighs much less than my usual backpack.)
  • a Kindle charged with some hundred books and papers
  • cable for charging Kindle
  • lightweight pants of synthetic material. Good protection from bugs (and thus dengue, malaria, botfly larvae, etc), cold, rain, etc.
  • jacket of similar material
  • small < $100 camera
  • a piece of paper with current exchange rates written down (to avoid being ripped off when going from one country to another.)
  • $100 in small denominations
  • belt for hiding money. Charged with US$ in big denominations. I wish I’d had one of those in Africa.
  • earplugs. Improves sleep in noisy places!
  • one extra pair of underwear and one extra t-shirt (I’ll wash clothes often)
  • three waterproof bags (now is the rainy season down there)
  • passport
  • medicines: aspirin, paracetamol (acetaminophen), artemether (for malaria), some antibiotic, some for migraine. Most of it I put in a small plastic bottle, for protection against water and physical wear. (I’ve memorized which pill is which, of course)
  • tiny flask of water purifying tablets.
  • tube of antibiotic ointment (dunno if it works, though)
  • fever thermometer and some spare rubber bands
  • best possible insect repellent (20% picaridine), put into small bottles in order to go through customs (bottles originally for instant hand sanitizer)
  • cell phone
  • cable for charging cell phone from USB
  • compass
  • memory card reader
  • spare memory card
  • small flashlight
  • razor with improvised cover (no handle, in order to save weight)
  • toothpaste and toothbrush
  • solid soap
  • vaccination booklet, driver’s license, student card, mastercard, visacard. Dunno if anyone will care about the student card though.
  • lighter (not shown)
  • pair of socks (not shown)
  • DS-2019 (not shown)
  • onward ticket from Panama (they might not let me in otherwise) (not shown)
  • two 0.5 litre bottles (not shown)
  • machete (will buy once there). Might be tricky to get through customs!

On my body:

  • glasses
  • t-shirt
  • shorts
  • underwear
  • socks
  • sandals
  • no wallet, no jeans, no sweater

Notably absent:

  • towel (being wet after showering is nice and cooling when you are in a tropical country, and it’s often tricky to get the towel dry after using it anyway)
  • guidebook (they usually don’t contain any information you can’t ask the locals about!)
  • small gifts (poor people usually just want money anyway)
  • “real” shoes (I think they’re clumsy, heavy, smelly, give you sore feet, etc)
  • sleeping bag, hammock, etc. I’m counting on the locals…

Interestingly, the backpack is still half-empty, so I can fill it with lots of chocolate before going to places where there is no food!:

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Total weight, about 2 kg, I guess. Only half as heavy as the stuff I took to Africa! I can even go swimming with this one on my back (after putting the water sensitive stuff in the waterproof bags, of course.)

Please leave a comment! Is there something more I should take? Am I taking anything that is unnecessary?

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