So I mentioned that we are eating a lot but thankfully we are also exercising a ton… the boys were on a fitness kick, which in Colombia means running UP mountains, on the side of the road. Craziness! I made it about 2 kilometers before I started seeing spots and was like catch you guys at the bottom! Happily we got to go to a pool after, where we met a group of Australian miners. Gold mining is the new big industry here and people have come from all over the world to work.
Speaking of mountains (and mines), Colombia is a very hilly country and as a result has not one single highway. As an American this dumb-founded me. I didn’t realize how long distances become when you are on a windy, one lane in each direction road. On the 3rd, we undertook the drive to Cartagena, leaving at 4:30 in the morning. It was supposed to take 8 or 9 hours…it took FIFTEEN!! (Spolier—this became a pattern.)
Driving in Colombian feels like it goes by quicker however because there is just more to look at. Lush mountains, tons of rivers, and neon-colored little houses built so close to the edge of the road you could reach out and grab their drying laundry off the line. Donkeys, people selling snacks and sodas to the cars passing by, and a peculiar recurring phenomenon of children with shovels digging and gesticulating at the giant potholes where seismic activity had torn up the concrete leaving a few meters of exposed dirt.
“What are they digging for in there?” I finally asked.
“No, of course not. They’re pretending to fix the road so we’ll give them money.”
I then noticed the hands outstretched for change as we passed and as they cheerfully waved their homemade roadsigns reading “Siga!” (go). The local entrepreneurial spirit strikes again!
We stopped at a goldmine (above) where Alejandro 2 used to work and where Alejandro 1′s design was being used, but photography of the equipment was not allowed. It was in the middle of the jungle and I can’t even describe the suffocating heat and humidity—I retreated to the air-conditioned car while the boys oohed and ahhed at exciting rock moving machinery.
When we got close to the coast we stopped for lunch at Olga Pina’s roadside restaurant (that’s the famous Olga Pina haha), which turned into a multi-hour endeavor when they served us at least 3 more dishes than we’d ordered and it turned out they didn’t take credit cards like they said they did. Oh and I accidently ate horse. It was…chewy. Alejandro explained to me that the coastal “customer service” is legendary. When Juan Ricardo finally got back from finding the ATM, they hadn’t even realized we hadn’t paid them!
So it’s after dark and we finally find Cartagena and the bustling Bocagrande area where we are staying. People are all dressed in their resort finery for a night out on the town, I’m feeling encouraged again after a long day, we take our bags into the hotel rooms—and the place is a SHIT. HOLE.
To be continued…