Colombia.... Ipiales - Cali - Medallin - Cartagena

Trip Start Sep 26, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

So I left Quito at last, said goodbye to Ecuador, and headed once more for Colombia. Feeley was at this stage in Bogota, but having been there already for Christmas, I decided to take another route and meet up with Feeley in the north of Colombia in Cartagena. Feeley had been home for Christmas, and Ed, my other travel buddy was at this stage in Costa Rica I think. I hadn't been surfing now at this stage now for about a month, and I was eager enough to get out of Colombia, and back in the water. Carrying a surfboard around is one thing, but when your not even surfing, it becomes a greater burden.

So I crossed the border, again, at this stage nearly being on a first name basis with the Colombian border patrol, started at a border town called Ipiales. Now I wanted to stop here because I heard that there was this cool church built into a canyon down here, so I stopped off for a gander. Cool enough as it was, the walk down and seeing it lit up at night, I was over it fairly quick! So I left that same night and headed for Cali, a town in Colombia where I planned to call in on a few friends of mine who I had met in Ecuador. I stayed there for one night, and the highlight was a trip to the Zoo, which was pretty cool. Nothing much else to say about Cali, nice place, but nothing much to see or do, I just wanted to check out the city, and meet up with my buddy, and then I was fit for road again. Next stop, Medellin, which I was really looking forward to.

Medellin was once the most dangerous city in the world, and the place out of where Pablo Escobar ran his drug cartel. But it has since cleaned up its act and has a pile of culture to offer and one who stops in. About an hours drive from Medallin, there's a little colonial town called Santa Fe de Antioquia, Id heard that it was a nice place, so I wandered out there and checked it out. I rented a bike and cycled around for myself for the afternoon. In the evening, I went to check out some arty stuff by the same artist as Bogota, Botero, which was really cool. So all in all I had a jam packed day of touristy stuff, before jumping on the night bus to Cartegena to meet Feeley.

Cartegena is a old port town, with all the strong sea walls still in tack surrounding the old part of the city. It really is a beautiful place, and alot safer than other places Iīd been in Colombia. I took a good few walks around the town walls, and just got caught up with the whole slow pace of life that the city offers. I spent my days there drinking a pneonimal amount of good coffee, to the point where the street coffee vender Juan that called into our hostel would stand outside my door and keeping saying coffee until I acknowledged him! Gas. Juan, the alarm clock. Meeting up with Feeley again was great, and we duely celebrated him birthday that was 3 weeks earlier in fine style. For a week. I had many morning of waking hungover with my good friend Juan shouting outside my door. We had a good crowd in our hostel, and we met up with Cathal, this Cork lad and his missus Linsey and had great crack with them. Myself and Cathal scared the bejaysus out of the locals with our wild style of hurling escapades along by the beach. Cathal had brought 2 hurleys with him to my delight. Felt strange and great to be pucking a ball after so long away from it.

After a weekish, we had enough of Romantic Cartegena, and we flew from Cartegena to Panama city, mad to get back in the water surfing again.

There was alot of talks before I left about how dangerous Colombia is,
but besides the fact that there are currently 3000 hostages being held for various reasons, and that I nearly was afraid to leave the hostel at times in Bogota for Christmas, I think on the whole it isn't bad, once you mind yourself. I remember poor Lena Ni Mhurichu in Pilz being afraid of me being forced to be a drug runner, and even afterwards Monnie Cliffe saying "I was glad to see you out of there..", But it is a fantastic country, I wish I could have gone and done more, gone into the wilderness a bit, maybe seen some football games, but it didnīt work out.
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