colombia

Colombia and its plastic bags

It was the night before our flight multiple flights back home. Naturally I was packing and didn’t think it would take long since we weren’t bringing too many newly acquired or purchased items back from Colombia. Just some coffee and candy as gifts for my parents and friends.

I was pretty much done packing when my mother-in-law mentions something about plastic bags and how we can’t take any back to the U.S. She explains that sometimes the plastic bags can be made of cocaine and that the drug can later be extracted from the bags.

Bryce’s aunt starts gathering clear plastic bags for us to use to pack dirty clothes, shoes, etc. in, which apparently are OK to use. It’s just the grocery bag-type that are white or colored plastic bags that are a no-no.

Who knew? I didn’t.

“These plastic bags I brought from home are OK though, right?” I asked.

Bryce and his family all gave me a “no.”

“But this Safeway bag says ‘made in the USA’ on the bottom of it!” I pointed out.

“Anyone could have just printed that on it,” Bryce said.

OK, fair enough. Time to repack!

I suppose Customs wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a real made-in-the-USA grocery bag and a grocery bag made outside of the USA with those same words printed on it.

To not cause problems, I left all plastic bags in Colombia.

You always learn something new while traveling, huh?

pre travel

Just like that, from summer to winter

Within a week I went from being in upper 80 degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures in Colombia to snowy trails in the Pacific Northwest. Just like that, from summer to winter.

No, it’s not snowing in Seattle.

Yesterday I dragged Bryce with me to go on a “short nature walk” that turned into a five-mile hike.

After all, I do need “to train” for our upcoming trail race in New Zealand. (I’ve put quotation marks around train because I’m a runner who will mostly be walking/hiking said race because I’m injured and am not cleared by PT to start running).

Even though I’ll be walking, I want to be able to enjoy the 8-mile trail race. I don’t want to be sore the rest of the trip because of this fun run!

There was snow throughout most of our hike along the Iron Goat Trail in the Central Cascades. It was a nice change from the hot and humid in Calí. There’s also something nice and magical about snow when it’s in the mountains and not in the city causing horrendous traffic and car accidents.

About five other cars were at the trail head when we arrived so we knew we wouldn’t be alone. However, we didn’t come across anyone else on our entire hike. I guess the others took different paths as there were a few junctions to turn off the main trail.

We only came across the remnants of a snowman — a large pile of snow with two sticks coming out of either end — and two squirrels.

It’s weird to transition to polar opposite climate, as well as returning from one trip just to prepare for the next in the same month. But, I’m not complaining.

I’ll just go from summer to winter back to summer — because it’ll be summer in New Zealand!

colombia

Strangers talking to strangers

There were a lot of qualities of Calí, Colombia that I appreciated and enjoyed. When I returned on New Year’s Eve, one of my coworkers asked me what my favorite part of my trip was.

That’s always such a hard question for me. I hate playing favorites. I like multiple things for different reasons.

Other than the gigantic, delicious avocados, I really appreciated the camaraderie between individuals that I noticed.

It’s a place where the milk delivery man will stop to chat with your aunt for a solid 10 minutes — or even more!

It’s where people make eye contact with you as you walk by, acknowledging your existence! Not like in Seattle where strangers will do anything and everything in their power to avoid you. Here in Seattle, we’re all just Zombies starring at our cell phone screens … texting our friend, or playing Pokemon GO. The Seattleite may have even faked a phone call just to act like he or she was too preoccupied to look at you.

But Colombia is where a driver will pull over and ask the young boy doing chores, or the woman selling snacks from a street-side cart, directions to the next destination. Yes, they all have cell phones and use them for navigation, but sometimes the quickest way is to ask a fellow human. I think it’s also just in their nature to stop and ask a person, calling out “Hello, friend!” to a complete stranger. (And by “Hello, friend!” I obviously mean, “Hola, amigo!”)

In Colombia, it’s strangers helping strangers. Strangers actually talk to strangers.

Or, maybe they don’t consider anyone a stranger at all. They’re all maybe just one friend away to arriving at their intended destination.

 

colombia

The milk man

I was half awake still in bed as I heard a man’s voice coming from the front door. It was towards the end of our Colombia trip and I guess I was still trying to catch up on sleep. (It took us more than 24 hours to travel to Colombia from Seattle, Washington!)

Bryce poked his head into the bedroom to see if I was awake.

“Who is that talking?” I asked.

“The milk delivery man. He’s talking to my aunt,” he replied.

“But I only hear the man talking.”

“Everyone talks here!”

He didn’t mean it in a negative way. It was a friendly fact. Everyone talks to everyone as if they are old friends, even with the milk man!

It was around 8 am and I finally got out of bed and Bryce’s aunt walked by with a pot. The milk was inside.

I asked her in my broken Spanish if the milk man delivered in a car or on a motorcycle. She said on a moto. He has two canteens strapped to the back, full of milk, no biggie.

A friendly, and well-balanced, man! I mean, I’m assuming you’d have to have good balance to be able to drive a motorbike with canteens of milk in the back!

Just another morning in Cali, Colombia.