Donate Button



Donate today BECAUSE Logan will probably use the money to fund his upcoming RPG. More entertainment for YOU!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

FROM CARTAGENA TO ECUADOR IN ONE GO

WRITERS NOTE

Sometimes I put stuff in brackets [] which is showing from the point of view at the time of writing rather than at the time of experiencing - just to be clear.



NOTES ON CARTAGENA

Didn't seem all that different from Central America, honestly.  The prices in Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica all seem to be jacked up but the terrain looks the same and you don't get more for your money.


While it's not difficult to find men smoking the reasonably priced (USD 2-3/pack) cigarettes, I haven't seen any women smoking.  Not sure if this is a 1970's 'women don't smoke' thing or if they just have more sense than the men.  And Logan.


While in a store, I got to watch some guy try to pass a counterfeit bill.  The lady proprietor freaked the fuck out on him.  She screamed at him as she tore the bill up into confetti.  She then gave it back to him and took away the soda he had been trying to buy with it.  He left chagrined which makes me think he knew it was a fake.

Foreign currency doesn't really seem that difficult to fake with some resources.  My favorite currency is still the plastic stuff I've seen in a few (3?) countries.  Wears well while looking good.  Harder to fake.
It's sad to think the US will probably never evolve up to that.



IT'S MY RACKET

Still mourning the one I lost to evil airport security, I purchased a new mosquito killing racket.  It's electronic.  Some of the locals saw it and commented on it.  I used my best Bond villain voice and said "Mosquitoes muerte!" and did a bunch of evil laughing.  They laughed for a short time then stared at me as though I was mental since I continued the laugh past it's natural stopping time.  Good times.



CARTAGENA CARNIVAL

Went and checked out their version of 'Carnival' here.  Holy shit, it is not for me.  It was a bunch of people sitting around drinking and listening to loud music.  Yes, I hate Spanish music as much as Asian music.  On top of that, much like the Indian tradition of Holi, they go around with cans of what I suspect is a shaving creme like substance spraying each other down.  Not sure when that gets fun.  There is a tradition that people are suppose to threaten to spray you down unless you give them a small coin but most people didn't get the briefing on that and just spray each other down.  Fortunately, I missed out on that part of the 'fun'.  Sometimes, paint is used.  Yes, like house paint.   Again, doesn't seem like 'fun' to Logan but whatever.  In addition to worrying about the people who were drinking liters of 'stupid', I was also warned repeatedly by multiple people about pick pockets and bag snatchers.  After checking this out, I decided I'd rather sit around quietly at the bus station for an extra few hours.



DID I REALLY GIVE COLOMBIA A FAIR CHANCE

No, I don't think I did.  Having said that, I would counter with "Do I want to spend Europe money to see South America?"   Oh fuck no.

I would also like to say that despite Colombia's reputation for good coffee, I never had any.  The locals always said "You can get special coffee at X or X cities."  I responded "So unless I go to certain cities in Colombia, I can't get decent coffee in a country known for coffee?"  They claimed of course I could but I didn't find that to be true.



OFF TO THE BUS STATION

The cab driver took the most convoluted dangerous route I've ever seen.  It was a trash strewn maze of unhappiness.   [No, sorry, unimpressed with Cartagena.]

Eventually, we reached the 'terminal transporte'.  This place was no where as horrible as the rest of the city had set me up for.  Of course, it would have been tough to freak me out - been to India, bitches.

After paying off the driver, I settled down for my five hour wait for a twelve [ha - turned out to be much longer!] ride.  Livin' the dream.

As I sat there contemplating life, it seems that my wanting badly to get a 90 day visa for Colombia was a complete waste.  Live and learn.  Colombia turned out to just be a port of entry (literally) into South America for me.  Since I'm now doing land travel, I shouldn't be hassled for my 'proof of onward travel' - just have some sort of itinerary rather than a shrug and say "No clue, dude."

Looking around this bus station I was again struck at what kind of weird shit they attempt to sell.  Some of the stuff makes a lot of sense - things you can eat or drink.  Some makes some sense - tampons, soap, stuff that you may have forgotten to pack.  But other things like a giant gaudy delicate seashell which lights up when plugged in - who the fuck is going to buy this shit?  I mean, I can see some escaped mental patient eventually buying one sure - but at a bus station?

A lot of people say I am down on everything but I'm really not.  For example, I was blown away by how well the security guards and police at the Cartagena bus station spoke English.  Very admirable.

There was a bunch of locals eating at a four stool sit down kiosk (like in the movie Bladerunner) so I decided to risk it
and eat there.   Being that they didn't have a menu, I just ordered the same thing as the guy next to me.  He looked a bit freaked out like I was saying "I will eat this guys food." but the proprieter understood.  It was a good meal for 6000 COP (about 3.50 USD) and more food than I could eat.  [And best of all, I didn't get to rip ass later.]

Despite the otherwise modern appearance of the bus station, they do have four or so wild dogs which wander around and beg for scraps.  I'm not sure why they can't just put a bounty out on dog heads and pay off people to get rid of them.  Them, and children.

You do get searched and frisked here before getting onto the bus.  It is literally the worst frisk I've ever seen in my life.  I'd learned to do a quick frisk years ago.  It's not that hard but this one was closer to a back rub.



THE FIRST BUS OF DOOM

It was Brazil-something or other.  Avoid this brand.  I don't know what it is about their buses but it caused everyone quite a bit of discomfort.  For me, I was cramping up, having leg spasms and all sorts of fun.

Here is a picture of what Logan looked like while he was traveling
Doesn't he look happy?



MEDELLIN

Because it is 'more fun', they have two different bus terminals.  One if either you are coming from the north or going to the north, the other for the south.  To get from one to the other, you can either spend 12,000 COP on a taxi or 1700 COP on a bus.  The bus driver drove so aggressively I was having wild thoughts like "Surely, he's not going to try THAT in a BUS!"  Oh yes he did.  I'm thinking he would have been good in Speed for the driver, though less pretty.

Northern bus terminal had a great information kiosk with people who not only spoke English but were willing to go with me to where I needed to be.  The southern bus terminal had nothing to recommend it.

The bus bathroom sells you a small box of toilet paper for 200 COP.  When you remove the paper from the box and unravel it, you've got about six sheets worth.  Try it at home.  Not enough by a long stretch.  If there is anything that long time readers of the blog have learned it is that you always pack three things for any trip - toilet paper, water and something to eat that won't spoil if you forget about it for a few days.  Water because you can wash with it and use it to brush your teeth.



BUSING ONWARD

I've noticed I'm having trouble focusing my eyes and my hands have started to shake from the trip.  If I weren't so stubborn and poor, I'd probably stay in this town for a couple days to recover.  I wondered if I'd suffer physical collapse at some point.

If my count is correct, Colombia is the 36th country I've been in.  Oddly, it will also take me 36 hours to escape Colombia.  [Note, the actual count was closer to 40 something.  But it sounded profound at the time.  Possibly due to Logan's deteriorating mental state.]  The total amount of money was approximately 111 USD to cross Colombia.  Guessing a flight would have been more and again, if you fly in they usually want proof you will leave the country.  They are the evil airlines who are on the hook for getting you back to whence you came from should the country ask hence they are more stringent about asking.

Had to pull out my sweater and make a ring for my ass as I'd gotten too much of a pounding on it from the bus.  The bus had me worse than any cowboys.

During one of the stop overs, one of the inexperienced travelers wandered off.  The bus drivers, talking amongst themselves said that if he didn't make it back on time it wasn't their problem.  Why people wander off and think the buses will wait is a mystery.  Don't do it.  When the bus driver is climbing onto the bus to get going, my goal is to be the guy right behind him.  Being stranded in some foreign town with all your stuff on a bus that may or may not deliver it to your destination - fucking scary.  And what if the bus continues on past your destination?  Where will your shit be?  When you get off the bus, move like you have (as they say in the military) 'a sense of fucking purpose'.  Go fast - bathroom, food, drink, smoke then spend your time loitering near the bus.  Maybe those people who are paying a lot more for private tour groups can afford to be like stupid children but I won't try that crap.

One of the frustrating things is they like to show movies dubbed into Spanish because people are lazy.  Even worse, they don't start them promptly so you have to watch the first part of the same movie more than once.  I've seen most of the French film 'The Intouchables' TWICE and will have to download it should I ever want to see the fucking ending.

The Logan Luck (TM) again struck.  Sitting next to me was a guy who was from Ecuador and behind me a girl who offered to translate for me several times.  The guy even ended up going out of his way to make sure I got to the right counter at the border to check out of Colombia then he pointed out where to check into Ecuador.  Thank you Christopher and Anna!

Unfortunately, the other side of the Logan Luck (still TM, bitch) struck and my glasses broke while being cleaned.  Cheap Cambodian glasses.  Hence, I will have to get new frames for those later - if I can find a glasses store.  [Note, haven't yet but everything is closed on Sundays where I am.]



ECUADOR AT LAST

Getting into Ecuador, you get 90 days at zero dollars.  Good deal - they obviously want to promote tourism.

After crossing the border, I had to get another taxi (they don't make it fucking easy here) to a town called Tulcon.  It was 3.50 USD and from Tulcon the bus to Otavalo which was 3 USD.   On this bus I was tortured with some horrible Mexican movie from the 1970's.  They use to make horrible movies like this in the USA but fortunately, someone got them to stop and they're not seen any more.  Here, some of the passengers were excited to see it.  This makes me think entertainment options may be limited in Ecuador.

From Otavalo, another taxi to the Hotel Korea which was 1 USD.  Seriously - a buck.

Once in Ecuador, keep your passport handy.  You've got not one but two military checkpoints to get through.  They check your passport pretty closely for the stamp and such.


After I got to Otavolo, I had two beers (provided to my room for a total price of $1.70 each - fuck yes) then I passed the fuck out.



PHILOSOPHY

Whenever I go to an 'old town' part of a city and think it looks pretty cool, it always makes me a bit sad.  It tells me that either the city has lost the civic pride it once had or peaked and then hit decline on their building making skill awhile ago.


Note, if this blog is discovered in a couple thousand years, do NOT attempt to start a religion using it. There is already enough silliness in the world.



MEMES

When arriving at a new place, I use to ask myself "Why do they do things this way instead of this other (clearly, in my mind) better way?"  After reading four books, I've come to the conclusion it is due to which memes their culture/town/society/country/group has downloaded.

I've noticed that when I mention "I've read these books" often people have enough curiousity to ask "Which book" but it ends there.  My guess is that they are checking to see if it was a book they were forced to read during school.  The short answer is "No, you've not read any of these books."  I can make a statement like that and will predict I'm over 80% correct which is good enough for me.  But for those who are wondering "What does Logan read since he doesn't waste his time with music", the four books are:

Snow Crash  (Rather lengthy discussion of memes, their possible origins and so on as well as an adventure story)

The God Virus (Religious people avoid this - it will make you question things.  For non-religious or irreligious people this is an interesting look at how religion affects you - even if you are not religious.)

Because I Said So (Fun read.  Deals with all the stuff both wise and amazingly stupid parents stick into their children's heads.  Unfortunately, as adults, we still believe the stupid stuff without questioning it.)

Civilization:  The West and the Rest  (Why are people in much of the world barely eeking out a living or having trouble doing simple business things while western civilization has bought us things like the helicopter?  This book gives half a dozen factors why parts of the world are doing so well economically and others lead a more hand to mouth existence.)



EL BANKO RIPOFFO

Still waiting to see if my bank clears up the $400 that the other bank said they gave me and didn't.  My bank tells me 'it can be up to 10 working days'.  Any time someone says 'it can be up to X working days', rest assured - it fucking will be at least that.  You never seem to get an answer early.  By tomorrow (MON) I will either know or be stressed out more.



TRAVELERS TIP

If your room has an external lock, do not use the one issued to you by the hotel.  I suspect I may have gotten ripped off 100 USD in a hotel by getting careless and lazy.  Use your own lock and hide any valuables as best you can in the room to at least slow down the thieves.



COSTS

Taxi from hostel in Cartagena to bus terminal, 15,000 COP.

Bus from Medellin to some town near the border of Ecuador I can't remember the name of, just under 100,000 COP.

Cab ride from where the bus drops you off to the border, 7000 COP.  For locals that is per taxi load - for gringos, possibly per person.

No comments:

Post a Comment

PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster

For videos with a Loganesque slant, be sure to visit here. You can also Facebook Logan.

If you enjoy this blog, please donate! Help Logan keep on traveling.