Cartagena, Colombia

I spent a few days by myself in Cartagena on the coast of Colombia. Beautiful place but I think my expectations were too high going into it. I had heard such great things that I was preparing for paradise. Instead I got weather way too hot and tropical for my SF-fog-drenched self. Plus I'm not too into old colonial buildings — I've seen it a million times in Europe.

The beaches aren't bad — better than I had been told. The people are friendly. Coastal food a bit different than in Bogota. Very walkable.

Cartagena1 Cartagena2

Ex-FARC Musical Performance

One of the most inspiring nights in Colombia was a musical presentation from a bunch of de-mobilized FARC members. They left the jungle and re-integrated into society. They sang, in Spanish, about peace and love. Below the pic see the link to a Quicktime movie (30 secs).

Muisc Download movie P3310038

Travel Helps You Understand What You Don’t Like

Travel helps you understand what you don’t like.

Traveling in Alaska taught me that I get sea sick easily, and don’t like boats.

Traveling in India and western China taught me I do not like spicy food.

And now traveling in Cartagena, Colombia has taught me that I don’t like tropical weather. I kind of got this sense when I was on the beaches in Costa Rica, but now I’m sure of it.

I’m a child of the fog.

Random Thoughts from Colombia

– I am getting used to standing up when a powerful person enters a room. It is a pretty cool feeling for 20 people to be sitting around a large conference room, making small talk, and then for The Guy to enter, everyone stands at attention immediately, and he shakes each person’s hand.

– The drivers we’ve had open the door to talk to someone on the sidewalk, not the window. They never open the window. I think the windows are like permanently locked for security reasons.

– Airport security in Colombia and most third world countries is less a security process and more a “Welcome to the gate!” process. I take nothing out of my bag, I don’t remove my shoes, I walk through, they do a half second of metal-dector-to-my-body, and grab my bags and walk on.

– 1 in 5 women under 20 in Colombia have been pregnant. Many of these women want to be pregnant, according to surveys. Colombia has six times the pregnancies as Venezuela. Lack of education and Catholic church influence affects this number in a big way.

– There are 3x as many words in English than Spanish and this discrepancy is only growing. Most new tech or medical words (like “internet” or “email”) are in English with no Spanish translation.

– Colombians are remarkably optimistic. They’ve been this way for years – even when violence was high. One person told me a low point in morale for Colombians is still higher than high points of most other countries.

– Uribe is the counterweight to Chavez in the region. Lulu (Brazil) likes to play nice to everyone, he’s not standing up to Chavez.

– The weather report for Colombia has thunderstorms like every day. The same was true in Ecuador. Yet, such rain rarely materializes in either country. Bottom line: don’t trust weather reports for Colombia and Ecuador, especially when they have rain for 20 days in a row.

– The Apple Store in Bogota is called an “iStore”.