« IÂ´ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more Colombia | Home
By admin | March 14, 2008
E Paine coming in hotâ€¦. So we make our way South from Cartagena toward Medellin and en route stop in a little place called Caucasia as nightfall is upon us and as sometimes we do we obey our no night time driving rule. Knowing that we are in Colombia we head to the Comisaria (Police Station) to finagle a free, secure parking (and by parking I mean camping) spot. After telling the police that we are going to have to park in their yard we venture out in search of dinner. At the ATM we meet a local moto taxi driving Cougar who takes us to her recommendation for Caucasian fine dining. After dinner we saunter next door to the internet cafÃ© and mid MyStalking session we hear some commotion outside and Dr. Robbins and I walk out to investigate. Up the street we encounter a group of bystanders and a local explains to us that there is a Manifestacion (protest) by the Campesinos (farmers/small land owners) who have had their land taken away by the local government. In this case the manifestacion consisted of protestors yelling, burning bushes and tires in the street, attempting to stone police, and most impressively breaking a window of the MayorÂ´s Palace to throw molitov cocktails and lit candles inside in an attempt to burn it down. And here we are in the middle of everything soaking up the local flava of small town Colombia. Every few minutes the yelling increases or shots are heard of the law enforcement firing rounds into the air or maniacal Colombians will start running in a herd away from or into the action. Finally things seem to be calming down somewhat and we head back to the car to be accosted by an old woman who is urging us to get the hell out of there as there are bad people who could do damage to our truck since it is parked right around the corner. We get in our truck leisurely and then a pack of people come screaming and peeling out around the corner about 25 yards from the truck and running in our direction. A guy that Flynn had been talking to jumped on our Nerf bar and said that tear gas had been fired to disperse the crowd and his eyes were swollen red and his nose was leaking like a sieve â€“ he wasnÂ´t looking so hot. Not desiring to end up in his same condition we heed his warning and speed in reverse down the street, only hitting a couple pedestrian protestors before making it to an escape route. For a few minutes the adrenalin level was throbbing, it was epic. We finally arrive back at the police barracks and go through a rigorous screening process where they actually made us present our passports before receiving permission to park our Rig in their sandbox area. We shoot the shizzle with the guys for a while and give them the standard demonstration of our amazing Lovecraft Veg Oil conversion and let them tour our single wide home. We schlep some stickers, Feral Green b-cards, and maybe a cliff bar or two over to the hombres and finally get rid of them so we can crash to get up early to finish our drive to Medellin to chill in the city of the magnanimous cartel.
After the typical R P S tourney the sleeping arrangements are chosen and Master is on the bench seat and Sean and I are up top. In the middle of my dream about Latina cougars and exotic treasure I am awakened in the early morning by Sean mumbling and thrashing around. As I look over the camper is full, and filling further, of white smoke. The smell of the smoke starts to burn my eyes and lungs and I realize that we are under attack and I need to get the hell out of the death trap camper. Sean and Mike are already out of the camper and in a stupor I stumble out and onto the lawn we are parked on. I canÂ´t see anything and my eyes and throat are on fire making it extremely difficult to breath. Once clear from the camper and out of the smoke screen one of the officers comes over to me and tries to console me and also hide his smirk. Sean is a few yards away from me and in equal agony as another policeman tells him he is going to drop a haymaker on his stomach so that Sean can throw up and get the gas out of his system. Sean comes to conscious enough to fight off the impending beating and concentrates on trying to come back to life. Mike made it out first due to his sleeping position on the couchette. After 10 or 15 minutes of sweating agony I am almost recovered and try to figure out what happened. The police are half sympathetic and half laughing as they explain that someone accidentally pulled the pin out of a tear gas grenade and dropped the grenade right under the open window where Sean and I had our heads. The single worst wake up call of all timeâ€¦.hands down. Needless to say we bombed out of there quickly and got on the road. An alarm clock will never again feel like the worst way to wake up in the morning. If you ever are looking for a good revenge plot the tear gas wake up call is perfect.
Cali seemed like a decent city but we didnÂ´t get the opportunity to experience it on a weekend when the famed salsa capital would have been in all of its glory. After Cali we headed toward Ecuador with our English bros Daz and Adam. The third, Jago, sped ahead on buses to try to get to
Quito, Ecuador. We spent one night in Popoyan and had an incredible 6 course meal for $15ish in a fine dining establishment. After a few beers we crashed out to get on the road early. By this point we are schlepping off at least 20 business cards a day, with the minimum Feral Green member quota being 7 per diem. En route to the border we run into a little snag called a derrumbes. A derrumbes is a rock or mud slide (not like a Pasadena mudslide however) and this particular one shut down the only highway that connected us to
Ecuador. When we pulled into the little town after effectively cutting miles of the line because we could there were hundreds of cars, trucks, and buses in cue and naturally no two people had the same answer as to when it would open. Answer varied from in a few hours to in a few days to quien sabe (who knows). We decided to make the best of the situation and ploughed some local pizza and did some reading. The Englishmen in their ingenious impatience hired a taxi to take them to the mudslide so they could walk around it and catch another cab on the other side. To my delight after a couple hours I looked up and saw some commotion and the line moving. We jumped to it and hauled ass through the sort of cleared slide area and made it through the border that afternoon. The Colombia border crossing was by far and away the easiest border crossing of the trip (excluding the Mexico entry) and even though we were coming out of the cocaine capital of the world there was no vehicle search so they didnÂ´t find the bales. We made it to Otavalo where the well known Andean artisan market is held. Naturally we ran into the English again and conned a shower in their hotel room out of them to clean up a little. We hit the town incredibly hard that night and had the grand daddy of R P S tournaments of the entire trip in a local bar and helped rid the bar of a gigantic bottle of locally produced vino. The English were amazed at our scissor throwing dexterity and we dominated the locals and the bartenders alike. See the soon to be posted video of this extraordinary event. After a long and debaucherous night and an early morning of Mike having to move the truck out of the way of the encroaching Saturday market we attacked the marketplace with fervor. The negotiating skills we brought to Otavalo floored the locals and we won, clearly, and departed with our goods in tow. The market was a labrynth of crap with some amazing grilled yellow, Andean-grown, mashed potatoes, Alpaca wool products (wait til you get a glimpse of the sick Alpaca sweaters Sean and I are rocking), and a throng of other handicrafts. After enough bartering to get us to Quito we were out of Otavalo and on the carretera. Perched at 9,350 feet above sea level
Quito is the second highest capital city in the world. The drive was gorgeous as we wound through the mountains and altitude tested the rig. We definitely found out that when running on pure vegetable oil, as we were at the time, in high altitudes (over 7,500 feet) and with steep grade the truck would max out at 12.4 mph. This allotted plenty of time to soak in the views of the semis passing us around blind corners and of the
Andes that we were putting through. Once we added a couple gallons of diesel to the tank we were back on track. Fortunately in
Ecuador gas was $1.03 per gallon at every gas station. Unfortunately thanks to the oil companies for pillaging the virgin forests of the Amazon. There is an ongoing battle over oil companiesÂ´ (namely Texaco) invasion and pollution of Amazon forest and the detrimental effects caused to the indigenous people. We stayed in
Quito for one night and Mike and I had a great Lebanese meal that was rice, bean, and potato free. We chilled out and took it easy and headed out the next day in search of surf as we were jonesing for a session having been dry for past several weeks. After crossing Mitad Del Mundo (the unamazing Equator line) we made it to the playa of Pedernales. The town was a shanty chicken farming village and as we made it down the desolate dirt road to the beach we noticed (and photographed) a passed our Ecuadorian on the side of the road facedown. Apparently he had a real strong day of Carnaval festivities that grand finaled with a face plant. His comparatively sober friend helped him to his feet and dragged him back down to the beach. We rolled down with the truck and there was a group of 10 locals incredibly interested in our trip and speaking slurred Spanish I think. They finally left with a couple stickers and their d.j. equipment that they assured us would be reinstalled the following morning by 9am. Crashed, woke up, took a yog down the beach and we bodysurfed the disappointingly small surf for a few minutes before hightailing it out of there for Canoa. The place was a ridiculous scene due to Carnaval and we quickly secured a parking spot in front of a hotel with a nice pool for us to dominate. We got a decent surf session in, thank god, and then joined in the festivities. The best part of the day was not the part where we sat in a sweltering restaurant to eat a $1.50 three course meal but rather was witnessing SeanÂ´s adoption of a stray cur. The emaciated German Shepherd (didnÂ´t come with papers, but definitely pure bred) had the best day of her life. She ate our scraps in restaurants and from the camper to the point that she probably consumed her own body weight in food and she was stylinÂ´in her Pro-Lite surfboard leash/collar. She was on cloud nine but there was one major problem. She was nameless. We huddled up and got the think tank gears turning and the beautiful byproduct was â€“ Curtina! She is a Cur, Cortina means curtains in Spanish (female), and Tina was the name of Napolean DynamiteÂ´s llama - I know, ingenious and finally we checked off the adopt a cur box from the trip to do list. After a night in Canoa we were ready to bounce and we situated Tina on the ground in the truck and I drove while Mike and Sean alternated flea killing sessions. Somehow, someway Tina seemed to be housebroken as well as we were and she behaved the entire ride. We ended up in the next town of Puerto Cayo which was completely dead as Carnaval had officially come to an end. We had an easy night and woke up early to surf. We had head high, funnish beachbreak in the morning and then were on the road again in hot pursuit of better surf. After driving through Nevada style desolation for hours with nothing but sand and coast we found the port of Engabao and camped out at the lighthouse on a point overlooking the purported surf break and the action of the
Pescadores bringing in their catch. Master and Sean iron chefed it up in the camper and I bought a fresh fish and had some barbecue attendant woman cook it up for me. Ya viene, ya viene. Every 10 or 15 minutes she would tell me to come back in 10 minutes because the fish was ya viene. This means Â¨itÂ´s coming alreadyÂ¨, problem was it obviously wasnÂ´t coming. Finally I let her know where we were living â€“ in the van down by the lighthouse â€“ and eventually she actually brought up a respectable looking plate of fish and accompaniments and I settled my tab. The surf was terribly small so we were back in the saddle en route to MoÃ±tanita. We stopped for a couple hours at an ecolodge in Las Tunas to talk about our trip and see what measures that had taken in construction and operation that were sustainable. There we met the venerable Francisco Sbarbaro from Santiago, Chile. He gave us the grand tour of the property and explained their waste recycling programs and the sustainable bamboo construction of the majority of the lodgeÂ´s buildings. We lunched it up with him and one of the managers and then headed South and surfed Olon with no one out and fun surf. We spent the afternoon in the town of MontaÃ±ita â€“ a stereotypical backpackerÂ´s paradise with loads of hostels, bars, and other backpackers. We checked some boards in to the emergency room for ding repair and got a couple boards on the rack for sale at the local shop â€“ trying to reduce ballast by peddling off BoydÂ´s sticks. That night we hitched a ride into town from the hotel we were parked at and enjoyed a delectable dinner and 2 x 1 cocktails. Mike and I met some new friends from Buenos Aires â€“ Nuria and Venina â€“ who were easily distinguishable as Argentinean with their amazing bangs. We talked endlessly about the customs and local color of Alemania,
(Germany where we are from) and instructed them in proper etiquette of the Deutschland. Sean retired and Mike and I gave out some dance instructions, making an exception and not charging for the first lesson. The next day we had another surf session in Olon and got on the road out of town with our newly repaired quiver. We were en route to Peru finally and stopped off in Guayaquil to pick up the Baker brothers â€“ friends of Tavik who were travelling around South American and looking for a taste of Feral life. After throwing them in the truck we were off for an evening border crossing session. We met a couple from
Spain near the border who own a hotel on the beach and invited us to park the RIG there and have a welcome to Peru Pisco Sour on them. We accepted and after a quick and easy border crossing â€“ no computers necessary for the Peruvian immigration/customs agents, just a cliff bar bribe â€“ we made it to Zorritos. I got my first taste of Peruvian gastronomy in the form of ceviche and it was epic. Shortly after the Piscos would be served and our relationship with
Peru would be one of equal parts love and hate. So much more to come shortly. PAINE
With the morning gassing behind us we roll through some mountainous country into Medellin. A gorgeous city situated around 5,000 ft above sea level and the second most populous city in Colombia after Bogota we were anxious to explore the former base of the world famous Medellin Cartel, led by our friend SeÃ±or Escobar. Medellin was exploding from a development standpoint with more high rises under construction in 2007 than LA, New York, and Philadelphia combined. The first night we hunkered down on a relatively main street in the partying hot bed of Zona Rosa. Luckily there was a club right next to our camper that blared electronic music until the early morning making for a great night sleep on the one night that we wanted some rest. Mike, out of his own valition, slept in the cab of the truck to avoid the residual effects of the tear gas that was embedded in everything inside the camper. We spent the next few days with Eric Jenso and Neil Perls as our tour leaders. The women in Medellin were smoking hot, hot, hot unlike anything we had seen on our trek to date. Something happens when you cross that little peninsula known as the Darien Gap and the gene pool becomes considerably stronger. Neil, Jenso, Sean, Mike, and I hopped in two taxis and paid them to race each other up a mountain pass to the Parapente (Paragliding) launch pad that was just outside the city. We all did tandem Paraglides that sailed over Medellin and neighboring Portbello. The view was spectacular, with a waterfall underneath us and a birdâ€™s eye view of the surrounding mountains. Our pilots were out of their minds and would pull ridiculous barrel roll and Colombian spiral of death manoeuvres to the point of almost vomiting. After schlepping off some counterfeit bills back into the Colombian monetary flow we got out of their and strapped up our dancing shoes for a BIG night out. The Colombian party scene was thriving as it was a weekend and we went out in full force looking for the full cultural immersion. After a successful night of fiestaing we headed out the next day for some light sightseeing. Pablo EscobarÂ´s grave and a ride up the town gondola lent themselves well to riding on buses and the monorail with the gente. We mixed it up and told some not-so-credulous stories to the locals who especially loved the bit about MikeÂ´s love of black sheep until we finally were able to weird them out and make things wonderfully uncomfortable. Our last day in Medellin was spent in a hour long interview with the local news station and a serious vegetable oil hunt which the newstation captured on film. We were officially big deals in Colombia and on the way out of town after the news feature was played we had throngs of locals honking at our truck and giving us props. Jenso appeared on the news cast too and is still in Medellin to this day relishing in the glory of Feral Green fame. All in all we scoured together a camper full of vegetable oil â€“ probably 60 gallons of pure golden-brown goodness. With a great taste of Colombia under our belts we continued trekking South and decided to hit up the mountain town of Salento for a night stopover en route to Cali. We parked out front of the Plantation House hostel (http://www.theplantationhousesalento.com) and were looked after by the gracious proprietors whose two Collies became addicted to dirty vegetable oil through our filtering process. As we were working on getting all of the oil filtered through our sophisticated 2 step process the Collies would lap up any and all oil and particles that were left in the filter bags and the bottom, unuseable portion of the plastic 5 gallon jugs. The oil, which I have no doubt did wonders for their coats, was our way of giving back for the hospitality. We chilled out that night, had an amazing meal in a small restaurant in the town square that served delectable patacones (thin fried plantains that had been rolled out into a huge chip) and locally harvested trout. Afterwards the pool hall and a cocktail were an order and I taught Sean and Mike some advanced cut-throat maneuvers and tried to hustle some of their Colombian Pesos. The next morning we rose early and hopped on a packed Jeep Willie to head into the hills for a hike up the mountain to check out the Wax Palms (ColombiaÂ´s national tree) that the area is famous for. The hike was mellow and after crossing over a handful of rickety bridges, none of which collapsed unfortunately, we made it up to the pinnacle â€“ a shack that housed the caretaker of the trails who served up some mean hot chocolate and locally produced fresh, way too salty, cheese. Oh, Caliâ€¦..after our jaunt up the mountain and back we got on the road in search of our next haunt. Our friend GeorgeÂ´s son lives there and we also were hoping to meet up with our lunatic English boys that we met on the sail from Panama. We rolled into town and after half an hour of the standard issue of being lost in a big city we found the hostel and a safe place to park Big Red. In exchange for guarding our truck we bartered away some energy bars National Lampoon stickers. As expected we ran into our English mates and they convinced us to give them a ride in our Rig the next day. That night we accidently left the camper door unlocked and around 3am a group of local chicas con pitos (Trannys) came storming over and yelling in both male and female voices, apparently upset that earlier in the night Sean had no interest in checking out the Russian Lady move. One of the she-males knocks on the door and opens it up and Sean and I prepare to deliver a mag-lite bashing. Not sure what dissuaded it but it finally just closed the door and stormed off, not even knowing that it had evaded a close encounter with our four D-battery torch.
Topics: Colombia |
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