Category Archives: Colombia

6 Points to Remember while Traveling.

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1.) Find out the Truth for yourself.

If a fellow traveler tells you about their experience visiting  a place, hostel, excursion, or something to do, take it with an open mind and filtered lens. You will only know the truth once you experience it for yourself. Too many times someone had told me so and so is a bad city there is nothing to do there, and then I go and discover it is one of my favourite places! Listen to them fully and then put your own rationality into it and find out the truth for yourself!

2.) Let go.

Let go of time, seasons, worry and fear. When you let go you are able to not think about the past and memories you once had. You will stop thinking about the future planning and organizing. You will find that when you let go of all, you fall into the present and there infinity exists because there is no longer time. When this happens everything will flow, people, places to stay, food to eat, everything will fall into place. Easier said than done, but just do it!

3.) Always Carry Toilet Paper, Always.

4.) Take up a new Talent.

You are never too young or too old to start something new or learn something new. From language to bracelet making, to guitar playing to cooking to traveling just do it! But its wonderful to pick a hobby/talent that you can easily do while traveling because there is so much down time. Waiting for buses, hanging out with down time because you are tired, or just laying hanging out on the beach, something accessible. Traveling makes you have time for these talents that in a “normal routine life” you may not have time for! Oh and it takes a little bit of commitment too but all is possible.

5.) Learn how to to Cook Healthy Local Food.

Travel with spices and food so that you have no excuse to cook healthy. Maybe a little curry, coriander, pepper flakes, mustard seeds, garlic and or favourite cooking ingredients. Healthy means good food for the body and for the mind, there is no excuse to be eating out all the time and not eating healthy when you travel. The local food also makes this exercise more fun because you can experiment.

I always try and cook local of course, which sometimes is hard in places that are hard to grow fruits and veggies but local is the most important. There are always bug convenient supermarkets that have everything you could possibly want in one place, but many of these stores put small shops that are run by local families out of business. So I would encourage travelers to get comfortable knocking on their neighbors gate and asking if they sell cheese or who does, so that they buy straight from the people and not from the big stores!

6.) Hitchhike

You can learn a new language and interact with local people. Hitchhiking provides a free way to travel and a cultural experience as well. Go to gas stations and ask people by knocking on their windows. This way you can look into their eyes and decide if you want to get in the car. And you are more likely to get a ride by asking first and not just with your thumb. Say you don’t have the courage or you are traveling alone? No worries because many people will say no to you, so you will have a lot of practice and can learn patience and new people skills! My travels were much brighter because of Hitching.

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La Serrana, Colombia – Mural

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Where: Salento, Colombia. It is a small town in the coffee region of Colombia. It offers some wonderful coffee tours, hiking, horseback riding, and gorgeous scenery. This place was definitely a stop I would suggest for people that actually want a vacation. The energy of the mountains are gran and infectious. I painted this mural in the kitchen of ¨La Serrana ¨ a hostel about 25 minutes within walking distance from the town. They offered vegetarian meals in their restaurant, camping, nice movie theatre room

What: The mural was located in the kitchen about 35 feet long and 5 feet high. The mural wrapped around the kitchen and was split into thirds. This was the best paint that I have used on all my travels as the owner is from New York and we had the same idea of what acrylic paint was.

Length of time: Three weeks painting about 5 hours a day.

Accommodation: I spent the three weeks in a tent! This was my favorite accommodation yet! I also had meals at the restaurant that were amazing. While at La Serrana I chose to beome vegetarian as well!

What I learned: Working in communal spaces can be exhausting. I had a lot of people cooking around me and even spilling on the mural! I would prefer a place more secluded, but it was a great experience. Often people would interrupt me while painting or ask if I worked at the hostel.

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Palomino, Colombia ¨The Boat¨ – Mural

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Where: Palomino, Colombia; a little town next to the Sierra Nevada’s and the Caribbean Sea.

What: One boat on a beach, with gasoline, coal, and thinner! Woah you would not believe the smell! The boat was located directly on the beach next to the Sea in front of a juice stand.

Length of time: Two days, a total of 10 hours. The woman that commissioned me to do it also helped me paint. What a joy!

Accommodation: Free Juices! Zapote (a costal fruit of the Caribbean) with milk was my favorite!

What I learned: Painting in the sand can be dirty and full of bugs! I think so many sand fleas bit me because I was laying in the sand and I was in my bathing suit! I was bit for sure over 100 times on just one side of my legs.

Before:

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This is the boat before I painted it

After:

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Here is the boat after!

Ancient Ayahuasca Medicine

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In Salento, Colombia I was so lucky to have three different chances to experience and discover the medicinal ayahuasca. I was able to take the medicine with two families who are from the Amazon region of Colombia. For the ceremony we took an hour bus to the Shamans house. There was a big hut in the backyard where we were to start the cremony. It began at midnight where the people of the town come to take ayahuasca once a week, every Saturday as a community together. You have people who are there for their first time and people who have been taking it their whole lives since they were babies. It was almost as if this community considered the ceremony as church as catholic ideals were also influenced in the ceremony.

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There was a circle in the center of the hut where there were about 20 helpers who help Tita with bad energy and turning it from negative into positive. They believe that community is one of the most important aspects of life and that we all need each other in order to heal and in order to live a healthy life. These helpers take the ayahuasca with you and know the process and help people with healing. The first cup of the sacred vine is taken at midnight. The Tita sings songs and there are wonderful muscians there as well. Everyone has their own matress, sleeping bag, and pillow. There is also a fire to stand and sit around as well.
The second cup you take at 3 am and then the whole cereomny goes on until the day time where the real healing begins. The ayahuasca vine is sacred. The vine is in many of the indigenous stories of how the world was formed. Some believe that the sun gave birth to a woman carrying the vine and that the vine is the divine, and brings clarity, truth, healing and communties together.

The vine is known to bring about hallucinations and make you sick. Many people were throwing up or going to the bathroom frewuntly. For me, I took this medicine three seperate occasions and never got sick and never saw hallucinations. I just felt life.

My experaince was stunningly beautiful. I felt so much love from the Colombians that let us join their scared ceremony. At one point I saw 20 helpers healing a whole group of people. Massages, Raaki, hugs, and different forma of healing were practiced. It was as if these people believed that if one person is sick, we all are sick, and that we need each other in order to be healthy. No one is perfect, but together we are. It showed me a new way of life. Unbelievable I have never seen anything like it. I did not see clear visions, but I did hear the most beautiful noises and feelings.

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I felt like I was transported into the jungle and was able to speak with the birds, the thunder, and the rain. Just emotions. I felt the presence of an eagle and that I was soaring through the jungle and being one with the sky. I learned that the mother earth wants us to help her heal and that we are far off better working together, than against.

The whole experiance was amazing, many people have different opinions about the medicine or what it can do to you. There are so many different types of ayahuasca plants that come from Colombia, Peru and Ecuador that its hard to just sum up a ceremony in one sterotype. What I do know about ayahuasca is that it is a sacred medicine that the indegnious believe could heal people and the world. It has ancient roots that contain life for these people. I feel so grateful, thankful, and apprecaitive of all the love that these people showed me. They opened up their arms wide to stragners and treated us as their own. I am so glad I experianced what I did and feel beyond satisfied in my time with the medicine.

Traveling from San Agustin to Popayan

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Happy April! Traveling day! San Augustin to Popayan, which is a little backtracking through one of the worst roads I’ve ever ridden on.

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There were two options for crossing the ecuadorian border from San Augustin.

Option 1: Stay south from where we were, however that included some minor potentially dangerous options, and some pretty amazing options. Moca the town we could of visited is known as “the gateway to the jungle” and to visit the Colombian jungle would of been amazing. That was just one bus away. Then you would have to hire a driver to who owns a truck to get you across 6 hours on “the trampoline of death” road as it is a one-way dirt road that is on the ledge of cliffs which in one second toucan easily slip off of. This part didn’t sit we’ll with me, and the fact to hire a driver is quite pricey. The buses are more dangerous to take on that road and are advised against taking. Then the final straw was that we heard a traveler in Jan of 2013 get into some trouble with the paramilitary and said that its not worth traveling as they pose a threat and have been known to steal and mistreat people on their way to the border.

Option 2: Backtrack back to Popayan, and then take a bus to Pasto and then cross the border from there. This is a typical way of getting to Ecuador and recommended. So we decided to do this instead. Seemed faster, cheaper and less potentially dangerous situations.

Out of San Augustin it’s important to but a ticket one or two days in advance. There are few busses and every “day of” inquiry we had, they were always full. We eventually bought a ticket to Popayan with the bus company Cootranslaboyana Ltda- estelar. It is the second bus station from the corner with the tourist information sign. Don’t ever ever go with this bus company. They straight up lied to Steven and I and overcharged as there were more stops than discussed and the bus was one hour later than discussed. It’s one thing to be late, and its another thing to lie about it blatantly. They literally told us the exact opposite of the truth. Really rubbed me the wrong way.

The bus ride was 4 hours but can be anywhere from 3.5 – 6.5 hours so be sure to check what type of vehicle you are traveling in and how many people will be on that bus. Definitely makes a difference. The ticket was $30,000 for two ($15.00 USD).

In Popayan at the bus terminal we caught another bus to Pasto which was a 5.5 hours. It cost $20,000 COP ($10.00 USD). You can definitely negotiate the price a bit, especially if there are two or more people traveling together. It was a long and windy road, also tough after a previous 6 hour bus ride.

San Agustin – The tombs of the forgotten

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Stolen by tomb raider the hundreds of tombs from the rolling hills of San Agustin, the stone figures of the region represent a culture long forgotten.

There are about 10 different sites in the region to view these mysterious sculptures. Each figure representing something different than the rest. The tombs laid on display above ground for viewing. Many of the figures had stone tablets laid across the figures or behind. Some were beneath the ground as well.

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My favorite part of the tour was the fuente de lavapatas which was volcanic rock that had flowing water from a stream manipulated and then carvings of animals, people and designs that we’re important to the culture. Just amazing.

The only thing that bothered us seeing over 150 sculptures there was no information on the artifacts or the people if the area. All we were told was what the figures looked like and nothing more! They say that the society that built them was gone before anyone can remember. What a shame right?

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So my friends and I are asking a lot of questions. Why do they display the figures the way that they do? A lot of this doesn’t seem like its protecting he artifacts, rather exploiting them and ruining them. Are there more tombs undiscovered? Who owns these statues and why are many of them shipped to Berlin? Why did the archeologists excavate the area the way they did? None of it made sense.

We left feeling a little disappointed as even some of the tombs seemed too placed and not authenticate. What we discovered later was that no one knows anything about it because no one has made an effort to understand it. We met a man who has lived in San Augustin for 35 years who has been the first documenting the statutes and writing text about each one. It almost seems as if these beautiful pieces are going to rot away as they are not being protected or thought about in a long term sense.

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None the less I was so incredibly happy to be in San Agustin and witness what I did. We continued the day seeing many different places with artifacts and two waterfalls. This place is quite magical and lovely to visit. Definitely worth the trip.

The tour for a 8 hour tour of the land and waterfalls cost $30,000 COP ($15.00 USD). The entrance to the archeological park which was a wristband you can take to all entrances.

Coffee Tour – Salchimama

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The day has finally come, after 3 weeks in the coffee region of Colombia, I am off to a coffee tour! Truth is I was waiting for my friend from Washington State to come visit me so we could go together. Steven came with his friend Jorge and we got to go on this coffee tour together.

From the center of town the tour was about 2.5 hour walk/hike down the side of a mountain to a river. Green was everywhere! There were new birds we discovered that were neon blue, yellow and red.

We finally reached the house of Pedro, the owner of Salchimama where his wife and two daughters lived. It was a tiny house resembling a tree house and their beds were all tents. The house was covered in natural art from seeds and leaves. They had great knowledge on the birds in Colombia and just loved sharing their lives with us.

The tour was all day, we learned about the surrounding vegetation and how that affects the animals and coffee. It’s truly amazing how welcoming Colombians are. They provided us lunch and then the later half of the day they took us to their tiny house a couple meters away on the top of a hill. It overlooked lulo fruit plants and coffee fields.

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The process of coffee making was surprising how simple it can be. Did you know that coffee only leaves Colombia in the form of a white bean, which actually smells like fermented vinegar? Then wherever it is exported extra ingredients are added and they charge a lot of money to sell it with additives.

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The beans are found in bushes that are red and not native to Colombia. They were imported from Africa and Vietnam. Colombia has a great climate to grow the beans, making it the third latest county exportin coffee behind Vietnam and Brazil.

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The tour was $20,000 COP ($10.00 USD) and was worth every penny. However to take back the jeep instead of walking the two hours its a whopping $70,000 COP ($35.00 USD).