Colombia was the last planned stop for our time in South America. Although I’d originally planned to head to Patagonia, it turned out it wasn’t the right time of year to do this, it being the middle of Winter, with very little expected to be open. So, I decided to join Andy in the plan of heading north to Colombia for some time on an “eco-yoga farm” near Cartago. The idea was combine some healthy exercise with volunteering.
The setting was really quite lovely, if you ignored the mosquitos which of course are ever present when you’re in the tropics. The weather was pretty good for me, not overly sunny and sweltering, just about OK to work in and add to the builder’s tan. I worked in the garden for the week, which mostly consisted of tidying up the beds, pulling out weeds, moving plants around, and re-laying the stones that marked the beds out.
The farm has its “permanent” residents: Karnamrita, Jaganath, and Yurani. All three are Hare Krinsa’s, and the farm is run on this basis, i.e. all the food is vegetarian, and there is a temple where food offerings are made, as well as the daily prayers. There was one other volunteer, Sofia, who was there with us and sometimes acted as translator given that our Spanish still hadn’t progressed beyond tourist necessities.
We were also visited quite often by locals from the nearby village, and sometimes they joined us for dinner. One evening the farm played host to a birthday party for Lily, Jaganath’s mother, with us all crammed in to part of the temple for the celebration. Andy and I seemed to prove popular with some of the ladies, who were possibly barking up the entirely wrong tree.
One evening a big group of us headed in to Cartago as there was a fair, and went to a fast-food arepa restaurant for dinner. Arepas are a bit like pancakes, and are part of the staple diet in Colombia. As you can see from the photo, we had quite a packed table that evening, something starkly in contrast to our usual dining spot near the river back on the farm.
Although we’d planned to spend a month in Colombia, Andy and I hit something of a wall, wanting a bit more familiarity and a bit less dodgy stomach. So, with some rearranging of our round-the-world flight tickets, we made our way down to Santiago which was not without drama.
On arriving at the airport at 2.45am to check in to our flight, it turned out that whilst reservations had been made, our tickets had not been properly issued. Despite some frantic attempts to sort it all out, and the kindness of the desk staff who stayed beyond the end of their shift and even beyond the end of flight closure, we didn’t make it on to the planned flight. We headed back to the hotel we’d been staying in for a bit more sleep and some breakfast, and upon returning to the airport, I couldn’t find my passport. After a trip to the hotel and back, and then panicked questions at the information desk, two of the airport staff came over to me a lost-and-found with my passport in hand.
Although we had a full day to explore Santiago, and definitely made the most of it with a walking tour, it turns out I didn’t take many photos at all of the city. Santiago was very pleasant, so it’s not like I thought it was a bit of a dump or anything (like Bogota), but I think I was just paying more attention to our guide on the walking tour who was telling us about the history of the country, from pre-Colombian times to the time of the dictatorship.
The photos I did take (well, actually Andy took the one of the dog) was Andy with his “Taramoto”, which is a local cocktail, in the loosest sense of the word, made from cheap white wine, the local rough spirit, and pineapple sorbet. Sounds like something invented by a student to me, and unsurprisingly we had to go to the student bar area to find it. To make things more interesting/hair-raising whilst we had a drink, one of the local dogs decided to passive-aggressively sit in the middle of the road, making cars drive around him, unless it was a taxi, in which case he chased it and barked.
So, that’s it for South America. It was a shame to rush through Chile, both up in San Pedro de Atacama and down in Santiago. However, the one thing I definitely want to come back and visit is Patagonia, so it’s likely I could spend some more time in Chile at the same time; bonus!