Up early writing this blog entry- since my stint in hospital I seem to be a boring shadow of my former partying self and the other twelve people in my dorm have now returned from the clubs, most of them with girls so I feel at nine, its time to get up.
Once again, I feel its appropriate to split a country into two different entries. The reason for this being is I am on the count down for my mum and little sister coming out next week and feel that once they arrive, travelling as I know it and Colombia will stop. No more hostels, no more being too wild and no more real independence. And whilst this might sound like I am walking to the gallows, I've had enough of money pinching and hospital beds for a while. Quite looking forward to upmarket hotels, flights instead of buses and also seeing the family, it would have been six and a half months. And on reflection, I feel like I am a changed girl.
I wasn't quite as strapped for cash as outlined in the last entry. Things did indeed look bad after Brazil but Colombia, as thought, is extremely cheap. I've set up base in Bogota which is a place used to getting back handed compliments. From what I gather, its the worse place to get stuck in Colombia as it rains for much of the time but these days, I feel chronically tired so days in front of the television don't seem so sinful. And neither does the rain. I seeked and still seek out cheap and free activities such as entries to the many museums in this neighbourhood.
And this leg of the travels, the penultimate one, I have met such a good crowd and one who is sticking around for a while like me. I haven't been entirely stuck in Bogota and managed to head out to San Gil, a charming town with a lot going for it such as rafting, waterfalls and caving, having been dragged out of bed by a new Dutch friend and forced to accompany her from Bogota.
San Gil was deliciously warm after Bogota and small. Its a charming town and former capital of its province Santander. I had always wanted to do rafting and San Gil was only the 90th place in South America I had been to where it was avaliable but decided not to pass on the opportunity again. For 30, 000 pesos or a tenner, even my pitiful budget could stretch and I had a really good time, doing it with some girls who had been at Ralph Allen in Bath.
Mira, my dutch friend from Bogota, had told me about this traditional drink, called ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic drug of which is legal in Colombia, though apparently classified as class A in Britain. I was pretty sceptical- drugs aren´t really my thing and having dabbled once in LSD this trip in Chile, I was in no rush to mess around with DMT again. Mira and I went on a detox for the days before, cutting out drink and cigarettes as advised to online and only eating fresh fruit and veg with very little meat. We also soon made friends with a local called Fabio, who´s cousin was the Shaman and after a lot of talking with Fabio, his sister, his cousin and a couple of other gentlemen from the town, we decided to go for it. We were joined by another Australian called Xaiver, making the gringo grand total come to three. It is apparently is better to do it with a small number meaning you can get a lot of attention from the Shaman should things get too unbearably weird. It annoys me that many gringos do ayahuasca for the trip because it gives you, without sounding too airy fairy, huge insights into your character and spiritual well being.
Mira unfortunately did not have a good time that evening...the ´trip´lasts about eight hours of which you are violently sick at the start and things didn´t really pick up for her. Luckily, I had a great evening. Thats all I am going to write about ayahuasca as its a personal experience but hopefully the things I learnt will stick around for a while.
After two more days in San Gil, I took the bus back to Bogota whilst Mira went onto Medellin, back to the same hostel of which I am still in, giving myself a proper base in Colombia.
Bogota round 2
Because I was keeping a watchful eye on all spendings, I did not feel like I had made the most of Bogota so made an effort to at least do two things before heading to Medellín. Two things that caught my eye was the bike tour of Bogota and the climbing of the mountain (I say climbing, in reality we took a cablecar) with huge views of the city. The latter we did at sunset, taking the cablecar in this orange glow and arriving at the top at dusk with almost a 360 degree view of the city lights. I did it with an Australian friend I had met in San Gil called Rob and another English girl called Emma who I had met earlier that day on the bike tour.
The bike tour was interesting in the sense of crashing into people on the pavement, jumping red lights and not managing to catch very much of what our tour guide said. It was nice to get some exercise and nice to see more of Bogota which I realised I didn´t know that well. We went to a coffee factory, a fruit market (of which I found a fruit I hadn´t had since the Peruvian jungle and thought I´d never get again) and a bull fighting ring, the unsavory sport that Colombia has adopted from Spain.
The next morning, after a pretty wild night out, Rob, Owen a new English friend and me decided to head to Medellín, supposedly the partying capital of Colombia and former ´most dangerous city´ in the world of Pablo Escobar fame.
After travelling around a few South American countries, its interesting to me that in Colombia, they seem to actively feel the need to bend the truth on how long bus journeys take. Everywhere else, if they say a journey is 11 hrs, it will be 11 hrs on the dot. Here, whatever time span is given to you at the booking office, its necessary to add four hours. Apparently its the same in Central America.
All three of us were pretty hungover and the bus was empty so we lay across the seats, only just managing to stop ourself rolling off on the mountainous, windy roads. A journey that was supposed to take eight hours, getting us in at ten at night, took twelve meaning we didn´t get to the hostel till about three in the morning.
We had heard loads of great things about Casa Kiwi hostel but it was jammed with people so ended up heading to Pitstop hostel, which had a pool, a basketball and volleyball court. I hadn´t forseen I would have spended quite so many days at the hostel at this point, coughing only slightly and blaming it on the air conditioning on the bus.
It seemed like loads of friends I had made in the past few weeks were at Pitstop at the same time so it was so good to see everyone again. We had one big night and then I started not to feel myself. I ignored it till Sunday, not going out clubbing and just taking it easy until Sunday morning when the coughing got so bad I had to go and find antibiotics and get a consultation at the hospital.
I brought Nami with me, who was a med student and a good friend from Bogota. What I hadn´t forseen was that the hospital would keep me, that I had contracted a lung infection and influeza and that the clinic would have me on a drip for two days, whilst injecting me with stuff every three hours. Luckily insurance handled all of this. I had never been in hospital before and had no way enough Spanish to talk to the nurses very depth. Thank god Nami was there for the first day to tell me, as a med student, what was going on, that I had surprise visits from friends who came with fruit.
I don´t feel like I made the most of Medellín, feeling literally too spaced out to do a lot. I tried to go to the football final between Medellín and Bogota but couldn´t really cope with that so bailed and headed back to the hostel and to, praise the lord, a private room.
I flew back to Bogota in the end, whilst everyone else went to Salento. Everyone is returning on sunday night to Bogota though so it will be nice to hang out and chill a bit more. Right now, I am just filling in days until the family get here who I can´t wait to see.