Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

travel update from Taganga

Tolu Colombia is a small beach town on the pacific coast about 2 or 3 hours south of Cartagena. It is quite popular with Colombians who come here to relax swim in the sea and drink. it is popular with families. There are a lot of Colombians with their children and grandparents as well.Lots of trash on th beach. a shaved ice here costs 1500 pesos and in Mompos it costs 400. I have been here for 2 days and that is enough. I will take an early morning bus tomorrow and go to Santa Marta and from there take a collective to Toganga. I expect to remain there until I leave from Colombia and go to Venezuela.
Well, some last thoughts on Mompos. Iguanas It has been a long time since I saw so many sunning themselves on the logs of fallen trees. sometimes they are invisible and then, all of a sudden they move and you see them right where you have been looking for the last 10 minutes. howler monkeys wake me in the morning they are small rust colored animals with long tails. they aren't very large, about the size of an American football(well, some of the older males are a little larger) but they have very loud voices and they sound like a pre-historic dinosaur. Very strange indeed. mariposas (butterflies) there are so many butterfly's here. The locals believe that if a butterfly lands in your home you will have a visitor. the people in Mompos love to eat turtles. I am reminded of when I was a young chef in New Orleans, and we made so many thousands of liters of Turtle soup. Every night these great big frogs come out and eat the mosquitoes.I have become a great aficionado of anything that eats mosquitoes! I have never seen so many dragon flys before. They appear like a cloud and hover they are a strange golden color and smaller than the ones I know from America.Buffalo loll about in the mud and do their lazy buffalo thing. They remind me of lake Maninjou in Indonesia. They make an excellent buffalo milk cheese here called queso de caba.There are old old trees along the banks of the Magdalena river. The lonely Planet guide book says the place is like Mississippi, with Spanish moss on the trees and the river rolling by peacefully. What a bunch of lies. I am told the writer of the Colombia section doesn't even speak Spanish and the owner of the hostel I stayed at says he has never even been to Colombia! Still the old trees on the banks of the river and the cool brown water with its floating debris makes for a very lovely picture show. a quiet lazy movie in living color. Millions of herons black ones Grey ones and white ones the local word for them is gaspa. mornings of arepas con queso asado.these are wonderful cakes of corn like a new Orleans grit cake, but cooked over a charcoal fire and with little cubes of fresh cheese folded into the dough. The iceman. The iceman hangs out in plaza Del Carmen every afternoon he sells "Raspado" which is shaved ice with sweet tamarind syrup. I have become addicted...I stayed for two lovely weeks at the casa amarillo. The staff Richard, Alba, Carmen and Minnie. Were great. really friendly helpful laid back and always a big smile on their faces. I already miss the place...
It is 29/1/2009 and I have been in Taganga for 2 nights. i am at La Casa de felipe. I have a brother named Philip (Felipe) that is why I chose to stay here. like it was calling to me. I really like the place and I think I will remain here until I split the Colombia scene and go to Venezuela. Probably February 5 or 6.
It is about 36 degrees here (that would be about 95 fuckenheit) .I go to the beautiful blue caribean sea every morning and take a walk on the beach and then a swim in the cool clear water. Then I spread out my sarang and chill out (I should say warm out) in the sun till I cant take it anymore and then I wade into the sea and dive under the water and cool off. I swim around for a while and then I repeat this process two or three times between 9am and 12pm and then I head back up the hill. The sun is too much for this white boy in the middle of the day. I retreat to a shaded hammock and read a book for a few hours and then cook dinner. I reckon its as cold as a well diggers ass in London, Copenhagen, New Jersey and Oregon. Not to mention Calgary, Cincinnati or Stockholm. Ah well, no one is making you stay!! Hee hee hee!!
I bought some plane tickets on the internet a couple of days ago. i hate flying. I will be in Florida on April 1. I will be in Dublin Ireland on April 11 and Venice Italy on April 12. from there I`ll take a couple of weeks to arrive in Cubjac in Perigaux France for the summer. I hope it is an early truffle season so I can eat some of them black beauties I love so well.
If any of you wants to meet me, let me know. I would love some companions for my two weeks in North Italy...
Well here are a couple of quotes to think about until the next update.
Peace and love to all of you.Robert
"I know where I'm going and I know the truth, and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want." Muhammad Ali
"The people are their own liberators." Nelson Mandela
"As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live." J W Goethe

Friday, January 16, 2009

travel update from Mompos Colombia

Greetings from Mompox Colombia. Mompos? Mompox? Macondo? I just dont know. There are two current spellings for this place but many fans of Gabriel Garcia Marquez say that this is the ¨fictitious¨ setting (macondo) for his literary classic "100 years of solitude". No doubt about it being the setting for his book "Chronical of A death Foretold". As he himself has said this is so. GGM spent a lot of his life here and wrote many stories here. He is one of my favorite writers and this little sleepy world heritage site is rapidly becoming one of my favorite places.
This little city of 30 thousand sits on the bank of the Magdelena River in the center/north of Colombia. about mid-way between Cartegena and Bucaramanga.(I wonder if this clears up the location for any of you!!) There is really nothing to do if you arent a fan of swinging in hammocks in 38 C weather (that would be 100F for any of you from an undeveloped, backward country).
Any way it is NOT on the gringo trail. Hah! Not even close. This place is not easy to get to. It is not cheap to get too either and It has a bad reputation for malaria. Well i can see why they say it isnt easy to get to. It had been a little easier when the "temporary" (it was 25 years old!) bridge on the Cartegena side was still up but it was "lost in the flood" about 3 months ago. It wouldnt have made a difference to me because I came here from the bucaramanga side. When i leave if I go to Cartegena, It will add a little while and some additional costs (it is already not a cheap place to get to) and two ferry rides and two bus changes to the journey.
To get here, I had to take an overnight bus from Bucaramanga (overnight busses are said to be safe here in Colombia at this time) and then at El Banco (an ugly little town down river from here) from there I had to switch to a motorbike, and travel 3 hours over a mostly bumpy dirt road through a vast cienaga (swamp). I would guess that about 25% of the journey was over asphalt. I felt like I needed a kidney transplant when i finally got off that bike!! Way too bloody hot (35C) to wear a helmet on a sunny day!
But now I am here and as I write this I have been here 4 days. Staying at a new albergue (hostel) called Casa Amarillo. Very nice place with orthopedic matresses (hip-hip hooorayyy), friendly owners a nice hammock and a well equipped kitchen. I am happy.
Before I came here I stayed a night in Bucaramanga (not my favorite place but good enough to shower up and sleep and rest before I had to change busses)...and before there I was at hostel Renacer in a perfectly lovely old colonial town called Villa de leyva.
Villa de leyva is about 1 hour by bus from Tunja which is 3 hours by bus from Bogota the capital of Colombia where I spent Christmas and new Year at the very nice quite cheap hostel ¨Sue right next door to Platypus hostel in the Candelaria.
In Villa de Leyva, They are said to have the biggest Plaza in South America (it is really big but not very attractive), and lots of old dinosaur fossils and great hiking. I wonder if there are any NEW dinosaur fossils...all the ones I have seen are so old...
Behind Hostal Renacer (owned by Colombian Highland adventure tours) is a nice, half hour, up hill hiking trail to a lovely waterfall. I climbed to the falls 3 days in a row.
Oh shit the internet cafe is gonna close. I will finish this later
Okay so now it is later. Yeah Villa de leyva was a cool little old colonial town. The place I stayed was about a 20 minute walk uphill from the town center, just past a little military base. There are little millitary bases everywhere here in colombia. Every town has one. They are still in a civil war, but it is very low level now. Really not very much fighting going on at all. Still the millitary presence is constant. One sees soldiers EVERY day. They are friendly mostly 19 year old draftees. I had a nice chat with two of the troops at the base. They hang out for 8 hours behind their machine gun whñich is behind their sand bags which are painted a very nice blue color. Really friendly kids who normally never meet any foriegners.
I had a shared room with Mike from Canada who actually showed me where the waterfalls were. We cooked together for a few nights. He works as a chinese translater for a canadian mining company that has some contracts with China. Very interesting job with lots of travel. he does not like china. Says it is very polluted and they treat the tibetans like second class citizens.
I also shared with Mauricio who is a colombian man from Medellin on a holiday and checking out his own country. It is good to share a room. You ñmeet cool people and have interesting conversations. You get to practice your spanish. One night I was sitting up in my bed and talking to Mauricio in the bed next to mine when he pointed out that on the wall right behind my head where I was leaning against on my pillow, there was a scorpion. Yes it is nice to share a room. I scooped the little fellow up on a book cover and escorted him out! Thanks Mauricio!!
So I have surprised the folks at Casa Amarillo by announcing my ñintentions to stay for 2 weeks. It seems that few stay more than a day or 3. there isnt much to ñdo beside sit by the river, swing in the hammock, go to market, and watch Manchester United defeat Chelsea 3 to Nil! That was a great match. I really like have come to be a supporter of the Red Devils...but as i have said before a thousand times, i am not a human Doing I am a human being and evern at that I am actually a being human. I dont get bored. I have already read 3 books here Mary Wards amazing book "snake pit" William burroughs "Junkey" Michale Moores "election guide 2008" and I am half way through "City of God"by Paulo Lins. A fine little place to catch up on my reading!
I caught a glimpse of the news the other day on the cabel telly waiting for the footy to start. I was shocked and dismayed. I thought it was a world war two movie about the Nazis doing genocide in the warsaw ghetto to the Jews but it was the israelites doing genocide to the Phillistines in the Gaza ghetto! I reckon the idea is to push them into the sea... The israelites had just destroyed the UN headquarters they did homocide to at least 12 of the 700 hundred civilian people hiding there from the violence. mostly women little kids and old folks.The Israelite spokesman said that the israelites were trying not to kill any civilians (they had killed 600 in 13 days) and the Hamas were intentionally targeting civilians (they had killed 12 in 5 years)i remembbered a thing from a jewish woman that goes like this... "In the Orthodox spiritual tradition, the ultimate moral question we ask is the following: Is what we are doing, is what I am doing, beautiful or not?" Carolyn Gifford
When will we ever learn? I get so bummed out whenever i read the news, hear the news and see the news. Barack Al obama wants to double the number of American troops in Afganistan... I feel like here in Mompos, I am like a person escaping from some crazy vivid, night mare. Like someone who has awoken from a sick violent dream and everyone else is in some other place still sleeping and dreaming of killing one another.i just dont get it at all man NOT AT ALL... .
I hope this letter finds you all happy healthy and not being bombed for your own protection. Not being imprisoned to protect your liberty, and not being forced to fignt to peserve your freedoms.Here are a couple more quotes from some great thinkers of the past.
Peace and Love to all of you

"A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." Lao Ziu
"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness."John Muir
"Less than fifteen per cent of the people do any original thinking on any subject. The greatest torture in the world for most people is to think." Luther Burbank

Friday, January 02, 2009

first update of 2009

January 1,2009 The first day of the new year.
It is Early morning In Bogota. It is a holiday, a day of rest for Bogota. I am up early I am a Madrugo (a person who rises early, a person of the Dawn). I like to walk around in a big city while it is still asleep. To hear its quiet.
There are only words because there is silence. Without silence, there are no words. Without space there are no planets. The universe is mostly space with a few "heavenly bodies" scattered around, here and there. The world is mostly silence with a few words scattered around here and there.
I have been to quite a few museums lately, the Colombians are (as a group) extraordinary painters. When I see a painting, I see the paint, the colors, the images and shapes, but there is none of this without the canvas. The canvas is the silent witness and the paint is the noise. It is easy to hear the words of the paint, one must listen deeply to hear the whispering of the canvas below.
There are street people on the sidewalks of Bogota. Just like any city anywhere in this, the world that men have created. i want to say "Happy new year ( Felice año nuevo)" to them. but...what kind of a year will 2009 be for these men and women, these children of an apparently lesser god. We (all to often) fail to see the role these men and women play in the Leyla. God´s great game. We don't understand that everything, every person, every weed, every bug plays a role. Plays a part in the grand Leyla.
We think "oh, if someone does something that I appreciate I will love him. I will pay him. he will be taken care of he will be protected and preserved". Of course this is the way of men. But what of the contributions we don't appreciate, we don't recognize? The contributions of the weeds? of the mosquitoes? of the "down and out"? Do we not love them?
I remember an old gospel song. it goes like this:
"Jesus loves the little children
All the little children of the world
Be they yellow black or white
they are precious in his sight
Surely Jesus loves the children of the world"
Collateral damage. GW Bush´s lasting contribution to the English language. Does Jesus not love the children who fall into the category of collateral damage? Do they not count?Are they children of a lesser god? Children of somebody Else's god? How many gods are there anyway? Are the weeds children of a lesser god than the Redwood trees? Sure there is always collateral damage in any massacre...There is always collateral damage sleeping on the sidewalks of our cities.
But why? Is there an answer in the words of men? I think not. I think the answer is in the silence of the lord. So i will be silent. i will speak of this no more (for now)
I have been a traveler (unemployed and homeless) for the past 6 New Year Eves
31/12/2003 I was in La Jolla California USA
31/12/2004 I was in Seville Spain
31/12/2005 I was on Ometepe Island Nicaragua
31/12/2006 I was in Aurangabad India
31/12/2007 I was on Don Det Island DPR Laos
31/12/2008 I am in Bogota Colombia
The more I travel the more I realize that I am never going anywhere. Like a man sitting in an automobile, the car is moving but I am sitting perfectly still. My body, my earthly body travels all over the earth. my soul my spiritual body is sitting perfectly still inside my earthly body, my corpse is moving but I am as I am. Always right here, always right now.
Colombia is not a good country to be a vegetarian! There are loads of Pizza restaurants but they do not sell pizzas that have no meat. There are loads of cheap fix price lunches but these too, all feature meat. I went to a pizza place and asked for a pizza slice without meat and he suggested the Hawaiian pizza which has pineapple peppers and ham. I said "well uhhh ham is meat isn't it?" and he said with a big smile "Yes! but it has less meat than the others!" Aah yes its good to be stupid, no doubt about it. I need to watch more terror-vision. I am not using the right shampoo...
I just finished a book by James Gleick called "Chaos". It is about physics and specifically about turbulence and non linear systems. Very interesting stuff. It is amazing to me how much of the universe is understood by humans. The problem is that most of us are not in the sub set of humanity that is aware on a personal individual level of any of the knowledge that has been accumulated by the human race as a group. Most people I am afraid, simply don't read or spend any time whatsoever in contemplation of the human condition or the condition of the planet, instead we want someone else to change. We want our leaders to change but we don't want to change. We are convinced the problem is the other guy and not us.
Gurdjieff told Ouspensky the best thing we can do for our fellow man is to work on our self. I think this is true. We can only change the world by changing our self's. I have come to believe that the only change any of us can affect is to change ourselves. Most of us are so selfish and so pleasure oriented that we don´t care how much suffering our behavior or our desires generate as long as we have some temporary satisfaction. We don't care what the consequence of shrimp fishing in the oceans are as long as we get our Shrimp Scampi dinners. We want the Brazilians to stop slash cutting the rain forests but they only do it so they can graze beef cattle.We say we care about the health of the worlds forests but we wipe our asses with paper. Not really the kind of personal behavior one would expect of someone who cares for the environment, eh?
I have enjoyed my stay here in Bogota Colombia. I have really enjoyed the art museums and the beauty of the city. The city has a strange and harsh beauty. I cant really quite understand the attraction but I am attracted and like to be in cities.
Tomorrow, i will go to a small village called Villa Leyva and hang out in a much more natural environment with mountains and waterfalls where a man can be a human being and not a cog in a giant machine. I need to meditate and take some long walks in clean fresh air and listen to the music of the bugs and the wind and the free flowing water...
So Now I will close this update with a few quotes from some people who have spent some time in contemplation of the human condition. I hope this update finds all of you in good health and high spirits.
Peace and Love to all who read these words,
Rambling Robert

"Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius." W.A. Mozart

"Talk of imminent threat to our national security through the application of external force is pure nonsense. Indeed it is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear." Douglas MacArthur

"What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world." Robert E. Lee