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.

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


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