Friday, September 3, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
So how has it been to come home? I remember asking Alex what it was like to return and surprised to hear that it wasn't so bad. It was even pretty great. Nonetheless, I was anxious about reuniting with family and friends that I hadn't seen in a long time. But even more so I was anxious about reuniting with my country that I had fled with out so much as a backwards glance. I wondered how I would feel here, if I would feel like myself, and even if I could be happy.
As we journeyed North with the Andes I grew weary of travel but also wary of my imminent return. We flew into Orlando airport on the 11th and we were greeted by a mix of Spanish and English. However two things made us feel that we were back despite all the Spanish. As Josh approached a lineless immigration window the immigration officer looked up at him and said, "Did I call you? Wait in line until I call you!" in a thick menacing Bronx like accent. The second came with our first sips of Sam Adams Summer Ale at ABP. And it tasted good.
I then took a whirlwind trip to Europe to retrieve my sister from her 9 glamorous months in Italy. There I took in ancient sites that I had wanted to see for a lifetime that seemed modern in comparison to the ancient majesty of the of the Andes, and rode around on quads around ancient roads on the Island of Santorini. After we packed Mia's clothes into four suitcases and lugged them home I was ready to be done with travel; for a while anyway.
And now, I'm here to tell you that being Stateside ain't so bad after all. Life here is quiet, clean, and a little boring which is exactly the opposite of my life in BA and exactly what I need right now. I have been able to hide myself in the shelter of our home, finding a much needed balance, eating healthy food, and emerging to reunite with a friend here and there.
Now I am applying myself to the task of setting up the next stage in our lives. I'd like to say my job search is going well...but its not. I think I'll be more successful at finding an apartment but hopefully some job will make itself known to me by August 16th when Josh starts law school. Until then the excitement of moving to Philly is enough for me and I spend my days doing the grocery shopping, cooking, organizing, and getting back to a few loved hobbies I had left behind when not scouring the Internet's horizons.
The corn is already two feet tall, and in a month the tomatoes will be coming in. Life in New Jersey is good, despite popular belief, and I will enjoy my next month on easy street until I return to the struggle that is early adulthood. However, I would like to send abrazos and besos to my friends in Argentina, I think of you often and miss you everyday.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Saturday, May 8, 2010
We took a 5 k bus ride to Taganga, famed for its ¨gringo explosion¨ but after a 15 minute hike one does arrive at nice beaches.
After some fresh juice we hopped on a bus and drove the pretty, curvalicious 5 k back to Santa Marta, packed up, bought a few last minute provisions and got on the 5,000 pesos a person mini bus to Parque Tayrona.
Whenever I think of this magical place and say its magical name it has been shrouded in mystery and suspense for me. Ever since Colombians have been telling about their country they have insisted that this place is the most beautiful place in Colombia and that I have to go there. For Josh and I it has been a sort of Mecca for our trip. We've kept it as out ending goal. From the bottom of the Andes we will make it all the way to the top of Colombia!!!! was our motto and we did it! This place was just as magical as they all said it would be, and much more of a paradise than I ever imagined.
After a guard searched our stuff and confiscated our bottle of auguardiente (gulp, didn´t know you had to smuggle it it!!) we took a 2,000 pesos a person jeep ride to the head of the trail, put on out backpacks and started sweating. The hike took us about two hours, and with the packs on it was hard, but along the way there were distractions enough. We had paused for a second to breathe when I pointed at a mango tree and slightly above a whisper exclaimed: Monkeys!! There were around ten monkeys just jumping and swinging from tree limb to tree limb, one guy was really into shaking the tree, maybe one was trying to throw stuff at us but he needed to work on his aim. Anyway, we were super close to them and it was pretty awesome.
When we finally made it to the park just before dusk we paid the somewhat high prices to pitch our tents (15,000 a person at the Cabo sight), set em up and then ran the ocean to get a quick rinse off. Even in the dark I could tell it was amazing, but its real beauty was revealed to me the next day.
Yes, as you can see from the photos I borrowed from the internet with no intention of returning them, these beaches are divine. And the camp site was nice too, grassy and covered in palm trees. We saved a lot of money by bringing our own food and for two amazing days our lives consisted of tuna, beans, rice, books, the ocean and soaking in some sun. We are here during the low season so we sometimes had a more out of the way beach all to ourselves, and when we didn´t we laughed at the Israeli's crazy tatoos or the British couple's pda. Nothing could get us down.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
And on that note, we have made it to Santa Marta, a beautiful beach town north of Cartagena. It was founded by Rodrigo de Batidas in 1525 as a place for him to live while plundering the incalcuable riches of the Tayronas. The Tayronas decided not to fight this fight with one hand behind their back and threw all they had at the Spanish and it proved to be the end of them. By the end of the century they were no more and their gold belonged to Spain. The city was soon overshadowed by Cartagena, but Simon Bolivar died there after bringing independance to six South American countries. Can you name them all? It also houses Latin America´s oldest church which I didn´t find that impressive or old looking.
The city isn´t as old looking as Cartagena, nor as colorful or beautiful, but it does have a kick ass sunset. We spent the afternoon with a new friend from the US of A named Jonathan and ate amazing street food for dinner after we walked the streets with cold beers. The weather here is mercifully less hot than Cartagena and a nice breeze seems to follow us everywhere but out four dollar a night hostel room. Today we are heading to Taganga (dubbed the gringo paradise the blew up to soon) a fishing village 5 k from Santa Marta and then we head to the infamous Parque Tayrona, but only so that Gabi stops bugging us to have fun there!
Monday, May 3, 2010
We´ve been exploring Cartagena, eating a lot of fish, and hitting the beach. Mike´s already burned.
The city of Cartegena is amazing to just walk around and explore. It was founded in 1533 by yet another greedy Spaniard named Pedro de Heredia. There was lots of gold, and an important port so differnt people were always trying to steal this fine city from the Spanish.(little taste of their own medecine if you ask me). First it was pirates, then the French, then some guy from Basque, amd most famously Sir Francis Drake´s attack in 1586 caused good ol´ Pedro and his archbishop to flee until they paid bunches of money (around 200 million of today´s US dollars). Drake left, but not before destroying half the city. Oh, those Brits...
The attacks continued, resulting in the amazing, and beautiful, city walls that surround the old city. By 1756 the city was impregnable. There is also a giant fort, and beautiful wall tops that now house cafès and great view points to watch the sun set which is all that really matters in the end.
Actually, this history all really does matter because it's what makes Catagena so different from the rest of Colombia. This now impenetrable port was a slave port, and continued to bring in people from all over the world as time went on. According to our friends, while the rest of South America was receiving a lot of immigrants (places like Buenos Aires) fleeing war and persecution, Colombia was way to wrapped up in its own civil wars to attrack many new citizen seeking refugees. Cartagena was the only place that continued to recieve people from different parts of the world, and it is even rumored to have a few Jews. I think I even saw one the other day!
Today Cartagena is filled with more black people than I´ve seen since I got on the A train heading to Harlem when I visited Patrick last August. But the diversity is outstanding.
At night, young girls put on their finest to strut through the old city in impossibly high heels and incredibly short dresses on the arms of their chicos, while older couples walk towards outdoor bars in old colonial squares in slighly more modest attire. We walk around, like cartoon characters, always in about the same outfit since we have so few, sticking out like sore thumbs but happily people watching from a bench, or perched on an old city wall overlooking the ocean.
So far Cartagena has been good to us, but today we head to Santa Marta to continue our adventures. After that we head to the much talked about Parque Tyrona!!!!!
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Well, two days ago, as I took that second step off our plane from Bogota, I breathed the Cartegena air deeply and felt it again.
Our now very strict daily budget led us to a corner where we hopped on a bus and headed for the old city where we hoped a bed awaited up at the cheapest hostel in town: Hotel Holiday. And that´s exactly what I have felt like since I got here: on holiday.
The old city is pretty well preserved and every buiding is pained a different color and has many of those colonial wooden balconies I´ve grown so fond of. Most of these old buildings are also accesorized with climbing plants that display an amazing vartiety of flowers. There are tons of people in the streets, hawking fruits, vegetables, phone calls, you name it, and thier shouts and music coming from windows, doorways, and cell phones spills out into the street and into our hostel window.
We´ve been walking around, chilling on the beach, taking refuge in shopping malls and supermarkets with airconditioning and pausing in front of fans at the Modern Art museum. The guide book was right. You´ve got to wake up early and spend the middle of the day resting away from the sun.
Today, for the first time, we did it right and got up at eight. At that time of the morning the chillfrom the night air is still hanging around, but by nine the sun has banished it and by 12 you´ve got to be out of the sun. We spent the morning at the modern art museum and then walked around. Dripping, we sat on a nice big stoop to catch our breaths and enjoyed a breeze coming down the street from the ocean. A man selling limeade wheeled his way towards us on the wings of an angel, and I motioned for him to pull over near us. Two cups at 500 each seemed like a bargain, and he even gave us some extra after we had taken our first incredible sips. As he rolled away I tried to drink slowly, but it was too cold and delightful.
I listend to Josh loudly munch his ice after he had drained all the liquid from his cup, but I kept mine rolling around my mouth trying to savor every bit of cold as I flicked it around with my tongue.
When we got to the mine we headed towards the entrance and a guard asked us if we had our tickets. Oops! We said, we haven´t. He told us to meet him near the stair case...Once there he told us that if we bought tickets at the ticket office they would be seventeen thousand a piece, but he had three in his pocket that he would be willing to sell us for less. Dani agreed to meet him in the bathroom in two minutes, and feeling like he´d just made a drug deal Dani headed to and back from the bathroom after a successful mission. So sketchy...I´m loving this...
So back to my other story..
Back in the day, like, way back in the day, there was a big salty sea over Bogota (sounds like Bolivia and the Salt Flats, right). When temperatures warmed the sea dried up probably leaving something like what we saw in Uyuni. Then..(drum roll)...the forces at be that push up giant slabs of earth did so and formed the mountains that make up the area around Bogota. In the process the salty earth was pushed under the mountains and great pressure was exerted on it. It resulted in a great underground deposit of salt rock.
The Natives figured out that when it rained the water that come from the mountain was salty. They would put this salt water over fire and in their clay pots they would be left with salt that they traded and used to create power and wealth. When the Colonists came they did what they do best and forced the Natives to mine the area. Later, safer more humane methods were used to mine the salt, and today we are left with a three level mine, and this cathedral I mentioned earlier. How did that happen? Well some Colombian miners got creative and while getting rid of the salt they decided to build a great momunent to God and create an amazing underground Cathedral. First you walk along a long salty corridor with a station for each of the passions. In each station is a cross and some places to kneel. There is this amazing circular room where blue lights light the ceiling. Obviously its the heaven room, representing where Jesus went after he arose from the dead and left his coffin while sleeping soldiers snoozed. Then there is this series of balconies where you can look out into the Cathedral below, and then you make it down to the Cathedral itself. There is a small chapel where mass is held every Sunday, a giant room where they have weddings, and then a smaller room that represents death. Some genius carved these immense columns into the walls of the Cathedral, and someone carved out an impressivly massive cross in the main part of the church that is supposedly the largest underground cross in the world. Remeber, this is all happening 800 or so meters below the ground...
After we were all salty (supposedly the air down there is really good for your lungs) we headed to lunch. We ate in what was basically some woman´s house, and she served us this big platter of meat and half a chicken (female). The meal is a typical Bogota delight that begins with F...Josh isn´t around to remind me of it! and is amazing. It consists of Colombian morcilla which is filled with rice and peas as well as blood stuff, papas criollas, chorizo, beef and fried plantains. Oh, and of course our half a female chicken that came complete with tasty lungs, and the eggs that had yet to leave her body (the yolk - very tasty as well).
We then drove to another town which was literally hidden away in the mountains (no help from the road signs here) where one of the biggest dairy factories in Colombia is located. They have a little supermarket filled with their products near by. This supermarket also has delectable desserts all lined up and ready to give me a lactaid attack like no other. So what did I do (obvioulsy I had forgotten my pills at home)? I forged ahead and tried it all!!! Josh´s passion fruit cheese cake was amazing, my mille ojas was delish, and everything else that had been picked out was amazing. I was especially intrigued and impressed by Adriana´s choice. It was a container with cheese that was kind of like a dry cottage cheese, arequipa (Colombian version of dulce de leche) and jam. Amazing to say the least.
At this point in the day the sun finally came out and of course stayed out, but early the next morning we hopped on a plane (yes!! you read it right!!) for Cartagena!
And hour later we were there and while I´m sure I´ll look back on our bus tour of South America with fond nostalgia, flying really is the way to go.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
After a bit of rest we got ready for our big Friday night. We had tickets to see Bomba Estereo, an electric Cumbia band from Bogota. They are pretty well known in this part of the world, but the concert was in a tiny place called El Deck which is more of a bar than a place to have concerts, but they managed to squeeze in way more people than any fire code would have allowed. Oh wait, what fire code?
El Deck is a really cool place, with a nice outside and inside bar, and shiny cds making wall art outside. We actually ran into one of Rox's sister's friends and running into people in a new place always makes me sorta excited.
We also had our first celebrety moment brought to you by Juliasabroadblog.blogspot.com. This guy came up to me before Bomba went on and said, Hey! I recognize you from your blog! Ever the skeptic I was amazing at how long I had been out of the game for and thought this guy was using some crazy new pick up line. Um, ok, thanks, I responded thinking all the while that it was crazy that blogging had replaced the, I think I've met you before, pick up line.
Turns out he really has read our blog. As Josh explained to me later, he has all Medellin web content sent to his inbox and our blog ended up in there! So...shout out to that guy...thanks for reading! Sorry I thought you were trying to pick me up!
The concert was amazing. You all should really check out the band if you've never listened to them before. The Cumbia outside of Argentina doesn't make your ears want to bleed, it actually makes you want to dance!!! And dance we did. We were literally soaked through by the time we left the place and thouroughly enjoyed ourselves.
The next day we were tired but headed out to Piedra de Peñol. It is litterally a giant stone, I'll have to post photos later so you can visualize it better (or click the above link), but the stone sits on top of a mountain and is over a thousand steps in the air high and two times as wide at places. Once you slowly climb to the top the view is something out of the land before time, or maybe the Hobbit. The resevoir below is dotted with little islands. Some are covered only in trees, some with houses, and sail boat and jet skis break up the serene surface and many inlets while others remain isolated and in perfection. We had a beer and then hiked up to the highest point on the man made structure and enjoyed the quiet and the view for quite a while. It was really incredible. Afterwards we headed to the town below where all the bottoms of all the buildings are decorated with colorful bas relief pictures of flowers, horses, la piedra, ect. We had a nice lunch near the water, and I finally got to order the fish that Rox had gotten in Santa Fe, and we headed back to Medellin full and tired from our upwards and downwards hikes. That night we made it as far as Pizza 1969 Gourmet where I filled my not even very hungry belly with amazing and creative pizza and then we rolled ourselves into bed.
The next morning we awoke early to a feast. Roxi's parents had made pan de yuka in the shape of horse shoes, arepas filled willed juicy pulled beef amazingness, fresh fruit, fresh juice, all the black coffee a girl could ever need and one more morning with their amazing family. It was way better than the pancake breakfast we had made them the morning before, but its not our fault Colombian breakfasts are so awesome. Being with Rox's family was an amazing experiance I'll never forget. They welcomed us into their home and made us feel at home at all times. It was the next best thing to being with my own family after so long away from a mom or dad. Anyway, if you haven't gotten it by now they were amazing.
We spent our last hours watching Frisbee and then headed to the bus station for the last long ride. We were super sad to say goodbye to Roxi, but the promise of the beach lurks ever closer in the background urging us onwards and fowards. By dark we had entered to cold mountainy area where one finds Bogota...
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
After over two months of life without Ultimate we got quite the dose when we arrived in Medellin. Our first night in town we hit up the small field next to the big soccer field where a Medellin team was playing. While I knew the roars coming from the crowd weren't for Ultimate, but for its more popular cousin, I was excited none the less! We grabbed some beers and papas criollas from a stand outside the field and headed into the stands. That's right Ulitimate players of Argentina. They play on a lit field, at night, with stands. Its amazing. They also have A and B levels of play and way more than four teams. While I will love Ultimate in Argentina forever, I can now only imagine how a newly arrived Colombian feels when they arrive at their first pick up in BA.
We watched the end of one game and then another and it was fun to soak in who is a member of the Ultimate seen in Medellin. As usual it is a diverse crowd and there are a lot more young people hanging around Ultimate than in BA. Of course its an alternative scene but also very very sporty.
The next night we headed to a smaller sandy field where I practiced with Wicca, Rox's team, and Josh practiced with the boy's team that shares their practice field. I hadn't gone for so much as a jog since Salta, and needless to say I am still very sore two days later. But I had an amazing time playing, and I got to play with all girls for the first time!!! I also almost had an excersized enduced asmtha attack...but what's new. The girls on Rox's team are amazing, fun loving and mostly very athletic even though I'm sure most of them never played a sport before they found Ulitimate. It made me so excited to find a team in Philly!!
At the end of the practice Roxi had some really bad news. For those of you who haven't heard, a 16ish year old girl named Carolina in Bogota made a bad lay out and died later in the hosital from injuries to her head. Her funeral was two days ago, and I just wanted to tell anyone who hadn't seen anything about it on Facebook. I've never been very good at knowing the right thing to say in situations like this, so I'll leave it at I was shocked and upset that something like this happened in a sport like Ulitmate or at all and that I can't imagine what her family is going through and I think its amazing how the Colombian frisbee community is handling it just as that, as a big nationwide Ulitmate community.
After the practice we all headed over to a place where they sell Avena, a drink made by blending oatmeal, milk and cinnamon and everyone hung around for a while until we drove home and I passed out hard and woke up in pain the next morning. All in all it was an amazing evening, tainted by some bad news, that still made me so excited to get back to Ultimate in the States.
Santa Fe is the oldest town in the department of Antioquia where Medellin is located and before Medellin stole the spot light it was the capital. As soon as one arrives in St. Agustin you can see that this is old history. The modern construction boom, public transport, paved streets, non of that even made it here to this little colonial town that sits below Medellin. Due to its location it is also hot. Really hot. The whole day I was dripping with sweat, sunscreen and lord knows what else but I still loved it. We headed to the main square that has a feria selling crafts, fruits, and sweets local to the town. We tried a few and then hit up a local place for lunch. Josh went with the menu del dia (meatballs), I got the talapia, but Rox won best choice of the day with robalo, an amazing fish that I can't wait to order next time I see it.
We then headed out into the heat and slowly walked around the town. Everything was closed, and every museum we passed was permanently closed, but there were enough churches and little plazas to keep us occupied.
Rox told us a funny story about the monument below:
The guy on the top was a conquistador and in charge of Santa Fe de Antioquia at some point. He took a native wife who you can see below, and on the other side of the monument his Spanish wife is also memorialized in bronze.
However, when you take a closer look the story gets good. Even juicy. When the native wife found out about the Spanish wife she went into a rage and supposedly cut off her husbands penis, tesitcles and all according to the monument. You go girl..
(the streets are deserted because EVERYONE is reclining in a chair watching the Barcelona game)
So we made it back tired, hot and in need of rest, but still white as ever. That night we went to an amazing salsa place where the band is a group of young people who apparently show up when it moves them. They don't practice and the roster is a little different evertime you go, and they play an amazing chaos of salsa. Josh and I did dance a surprising amount for how soar we still are from frisbee practice, and I'll like to say that by the end of the night we had a few steps down pat. We have a long way to go, but I'd say we've also come a long way from the first time we tried to dance salsa together in BA.
*Thank you to my Lonley Planet for historical info on the Puente de Ocidente that I couldn't remember on my own.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
We arrived in Medellin on a sunny sunny morning. Rox picked us up in a car (amazing), and we headed to the apartment where she lives with her parents on a nice, quiet street in Medellin. I love the apartment for a few reasons. Of course it is nice, and the view is amazing (especially at night), but my favorite part is that it is full full full of fresh fresh fruit. There also seems to be every type of fruit ever created here, but every time we are introduced to a new fruit we are told that there are like...3 more varieties of this one fruit not present let alone the other ten kinds in the fruit bowl.
We headed out into Medellin, walked around and then headed into their beautiful metro system. This system puts DC's to shame. It is the cleanest place I've seen in South America, and people are so respectful of each other, the place, and of each other. Roxi said that when they opened it they first did a big ad campaign telling people that this was their metro, and they should want to keep it clean and respect it because its theirs. It worked!!
After a metro ride we did a free transfer to the metro gondalas that go up to the top of the city. Medellin, like La Paz and many other cities we've visited, is in a valley so you have to do a lot of climbing to get to the edges of the city. With the gondola its just a quick, insulated ride above poeple's houses. Lines were huge because this metro line takes people to a new nature reserve that just opened, but lines for it were two hours long so we skipped that and enjoyed the ride.
Roxi's grandma is very cool and fed us lunch and lots and lots of coffee. We all chatted for a while, and then we checked the place out and then relocated to in front of a fire Josh was only too happy to make. Josh taught Roxi how to play truco, and she taught us how to play pinche. It was amazing to be in someone's home, relaxing, and playing cards with someone other than Josh. I didn't realize how starved I had become for families and their homes.