Friday, August 3, 2012

Day trip to Rosario Island - Last day:-(

Bright and early we set sail to Rosario Island for a day of  much deserved rest and fun.  The Caribbean Sea was a spectacular blue, the sun was shining and the sea was calm..............  unlike the journey back!!!!!!

The beautiful Caribbean

 The journey back and I thought I would be dry at the back of the boat! The swell was so huge that the waves came over the top of us at the back.

Some people snorkeled, scuba dived, ate and slept in the sun.  What we all agree is this was a fine end to what was truly BEYOND THE HEADLINES IN COLOMBIA AND MEXICO.


Incredible Cartagena July 25th, 2012

The highlight of our trip was a visit to the University of Cartagena.  This is where we were able to talk to a young man who was taken by the paramilitary at the young age of 12.  He had previously been living with an aunt who treated him like a slave after suffering abuse by his father.  He had been befriended by a member of the paramilitary, an older man, whom I would think would be a father figure for him.  Although he had stated he did not want to enlist in his organization, eventually he was taken and trained to do things that no 11 year old boy should even know about. (The information given would be too graphic for me to add to my school blog) Needless to say, we listened intently to him about his life story.  Thankfully he took advantage of a government initiative in 2005 that allowed people like him to return to normal life with a pardon of what had been done.  You can imagine the distrust of the people in the village where he lived.  He said it had been very hard to integrate again into a "normal life."  The professor from the university had received a grant to help others just like him and he hopes to make a film out of his ordeal and current life.  I have a scripted document of his life story if you would like to request a copy.  It is translated in a rough format but the gist is very apparent.

Next we were uplifted with a wonderful display of Colombian dance by the students of the college.  It was bright, lively and gave us a wonderful insight into this culture.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July 24 - Taganga Beach Visit

 Taganga Beach
 All in a day's catch

This is the view from my hotel window.  It is beautiful Cartegana Beach, in the Caribbean.  We have 3 days here.  

After a much needed free morning and a wonderful walk along the beach in Santa Marta, we headed off to Cartagena and on the way visited Taganga Beach.  This was a typical fishing village frequented by tourists who want a quiet vacation.  We had lunch of fresh from the ocean fish and sea food then piled into the bus again and headed for Cartagena.  This is the last leg of our Colombian tour.

Santa Marta - Fulbright Special dinner

We traveled all day today as Bogota is the hub and we had a connection to make there to go onward to Santa Marta.  We changed quickly then went to Restaurant Cafe Gourmet for dinner.  We had a brief introduction by a lady who discussed the culture in this area and that was followed by a dinner of  fresh fish - snapper and sea bass.  Yummy. Then it was off to bed..............


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Parque Del Cafe (Coffee Park)

Today we got a late start to the coffee park which was about a 45 minute drive away.  We split into groups and explored the park.  It was like Knotsberry Farm with amusement rides, horse riding, small train and overhead tram ride.  They had a museum which had coffee artifacts and information and visitors could walk down a pathway which had information about growing coffee.  I learned that in order to get great coffee the beans should be red or at least yellow.  Also if the bean is lighter then the coffee will be weaker.  There is also two harvests per year but one is much less than the other. They cannot allow beans to drop off the plant on to the ground as it will attract bugs.  We saw some weird bugs in the museum.  We also tried (and bought) coffee butter which is like a caramel spread.  Yummy.

 Small bananas called
Coffee bean after losing its shell

Notice the red beans ready to be picked

On the evening we went to a small typical Colombian town named Salerna. We had the most delicious fresh river trout I have ever tasted.  We also enjoyed meandering up the small streets and meeting the locals as we shopped.

 Evening in Salerna
 A small restaurant
A beautiful sunset from the hills.
Salerna is surrounded by rolling hills and a freezing cold river.

Coffee Country we are on our way

Today was a travel day which resulted in half of our group losing their luggage.  All was well in the end as they found it in Medellin and put it on a later plane.  We had a pleasant dinner with Jody Geitz, a former Fulbrighter and a resident of Armenia.  She owns a small coffee plantation and works it in the summer when she is not working in her school in Chicago.

July 20th Independence Day in Colombia

Pueblito Paisa visit and we were joined by many cyclists who pedaled up the large hill and enjoyed the view and snacks in this quaint area.  Several parts were closed on being modernized so a brief look around then off to Parque Baerrio - Barefoot Park.  This is quite the treatment for ones feet.  You start in the bamboo forest then walk on sand.  Next is the foot spa pool then one with jets to massage your feet.  It was packed with people and we were quite the spectacle!  Our feet were as light as air and got us ready to enjoy Antioquia Museum visit and the exhibition of Botero - the fat people!  Or as he says - voluptuous.  We also saw his rendition of the death of Pablo Estoban. In the evening a small group of us joined a local Fulbrighter for dinner and a walk around her town.  It was very pleasant and intriguing to find out how much Fulbright scholarships change the lives of people.  I know it has certainly opened up my life.
Enjoy the photos.
 Free Foot Spa
Pablo Estobar