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.

colombia

The avocado man

The street outside Bryce’s grandma’s house can be lively during the day with cars rushing by and honking their horns, or people calling out to each other. She lives in Cali, Colombia.

The other day as we ate breakfast, I heard someone yelling through a loud speaker outside.

“Is it something political?” I asked Bryce.

“No, it’s a man selling avocados. Come look!” he replied, as he peeked through the blinds of a window facing the street.

I walked over to the window just in time to see the man pushing his cart, and surprised to see he only had like four avocados!

He also wasn’t yelling through a microphone. He was playing a pre-recorded recording to make his avocado sales.

We were unsure if he perhaps already sold most of his avocados, or if he just didn’t have a lot to sell to begin with.

All I know is that I would love to have an avocado vendor walk the streets outside of my house so I could have the opportunity to buy fresh avocados. That’s pretty much the dream. For those of you thinking it: Amazon Fresh doesn’t count!

Aguacates! Aguacates!

colombia, travel

Travel blogging while traveling

How do you do it? Travel blog while traveling?

Even on days when we aren’t out doing things all day, I am either too tired, eating or spending time with family (as this trip to Colombia was to mainly visit Bryce’s grandma).

So, how do you make time to blog while traveling? Do you just jot down notes and write posts when you are back home? Do you just “make the time” while traveling and crank out posts instead of sleeping? Do you do something in between the two? Or, something else?

This newbie travel blogger would like to know your secret!

I know there is no right or wrong answer, but it was something that I was thinking about as the days quickly have passed by and I have not written a new post.

And, while I’m here I guess I’ll give you a few Colombia travel updates:

  • The fruits and plants here are amazing! Both to look at and eat. I could eat avocados every day.
  • The people here are so nice and welcoming.
  • I have about a dozen mosquito bites — per leg.
  • Despite being only three hours ahead of home (Seattle), I feel like my sleep schedule is waaayyy off. But, I’m really “only” in East Coast time right now!

More things to say but I’ll probably have to write it all after the trip, as we are getting close to our departure … sigh …

colombia, travel

A Cali Christmas

First things first: It does not feel like Christmas here because I have a dozen mosquito bites up and down my legs and I can’t stop sweating!

This Pacific Northwest girl is not used to a hot Christmas.

Although, Bryce’s family has been telling us that it has “cooled off” this week. (My phone says that it is current 88 degrees Fahrenheit in Cali right now!)

Last night (Christmas Eve) the streets outside the house were “lively” with neighbors shooting fireworks and sparklers. It did not keep me up since I think I’m still making up for sleep deprivation from our 26+ hours of travel to get from Seattle to Cali, Colombia!

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Bryce, his aunt and I went on a walk this morning. She said we needed to go before things got crazy in the afternoon for the fair. (It’s a big fair that starts on Christmas Day and goes until the 30th full of lots of dancing and fanfare).

I was actually surprised to see “so much activity”on the streets during our walk. I expected to see other people going on family walks as well. But, there were lots of street vendors out and restaurants opened, too.

Back home, it’s really just big chain grocery stores and Starbucks that are open for like half a day on Christmas. There seemed to be more going on here, but maybe it was just in preparation for the fair.

As we headed back to the house, Bryce’s aunt asked if we wanted some water as we walked by a little convenience shop. The shop owner had the store gate closed but stood inside as a few people voiced out what they would like to buy — probably drinks as well.

“It’s closed, but opened,” Bryce said.

After buying the water bottles, we stopped in a grocery store that was opened and bought a few groceries. Knowing that I love avocados, his aunt said she knew a better place to buy fresh avocados than the grocery store we were at.

Just around the corner from the grocery store was a stand that solely sold avocados.

“This is my heaven,” I told Bryce as his aunt consulted with the stand vendor to make sure we were buying the best ripe avocados he had to offer.

And, these avocados put all the avocados I see back home to shame. These ones are like the size of what I think a papaya to be!

Merry Christmas from me and the avocados (not pictured, but I’ll need to upload the photos later!)

FYI: I have yet to sync my Instagram to the blog but for those wanting to see more photos and videos (in my stories), feel free to follow along at @ottertravelmore