Monday, May 30, 2011

on my way

Manizales, Colombia

Getting to know Medellin was very cool.  Kelvin was completely fine with me dropping in, staying to figure myself out & my direction, even though our teams are pairing off for the Stankley Cup final.  Excited for everything I've learned about Colombia.  Chillin on the side of the road.  Finally ready to start another country.

Going through the countryside means going up & over the very peaks of mountains sometimes, and sometimes nice & low alongside the rivers.  Amazing vistas.  Towns that align themselves with the mountains casually beside drop-offs.  Juelien points out spots where 8 days ago a night bus went over at 5am, or a truck the month before.  It's not exactly oblivion, but still intimidating.  I'm confident in his driving.  He tells me about his 2 daughters & his wife who's jealous he's away transporting goods all the time.  We pick up a guy hitchhiking with a bed & two dressers.  Badass!!  And I thought hitching with a bike might be difficult...

You can catch any bus in Colombia on the side of the road.  So when I describe the place I'm trying to get to, strangers tell me the exact intersection I want to be on.  Juelien suggested I get a Wheely, which is a type of collectivo taxi - a pickup truck with a canvas top.  It costs about 1,400 pesos (~85 cents).  The seat pinches my bum & I'm losing skin on my ass.  My big grin turns into shifting uncomfortably for the 20 minute trip (seems longer).

When I briefly spoke to Geraldine, my host in Manizales, she said she'd send me directions when she got home (didn't) & said she lived on 23rd which is the main drag.  Every street in Colombia is numbered, which can be confusing because not only are the cities not grids, but some streets will have letters after them too.  (In Medellin we lived on 47F.)  The truck stops pretty close to Calle 23, around Carrera 19.  The street is busy with people selling fruit & the ilk.  Stingy downtown look, like my few experiences in scary downtown Guadelajara.  To my right stands a security guard with a great big muzzled Rottweiler watching me.  I ask if he knows where I can use a phone.  He helps me & says something I don't quite understand, but I get the drift.  I need to be very careful in this area because it's dangerous & I have alot of stuff which I need to be careful for.  No answer.  I wander around awhile, & hang out in the supermarket while it begins to get dark.  It took alot longer than it should have to get here, as usual.

This time the woman at the tienda who's phone I was borrowing gets a call back from Geraldine.  Someone tells me I'm in the Galleria.  She said "How did you end up there?!"  These are the stories I don't know the words to yet.  Apparently this is a bad part of town.  She lives on Carrera 23, not Calle 23.  Like mixing up Streets with Avenues.  She gives me bus directions to places she has to spell out for me.  I laugh & walk wherever several people on the street tell me to go.  I told her "Ah well, it'll be an adventure!", which always means Something will go wrong or Already has.

Kelvin mentioned a phenomenon he's experienced which is no longer being afraid of any places in North America.  Ever since he's travelled through Latin America, things seem tame.  He told me of the time he accidentally wandered through East Hastings in Vancouver without even realizing.  He was armed with a horseshoe, which I find hilarious in more ways than I can explain.  I still think it's a special mix of Ignorance & Confidence.  This is not the first time I've explored places people who live there shy away from.

The bus takes me further into the upscale disctrict.  Supposedly 25% of the population are students.  It's one of the few cities in the world with 8 micro-climates, & it's drinking water is one of the 10 best in the world.

I'm here with a purpose.  It's name is Nevado del Ruiz.

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