Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Journey to the Coast

The trip from Barichara to San Gil was uneventful and after getting all the campo mud out from the undercarriage of the car at the car wash in San Gil, it seemed as if the old girl was considerably lighter on her “sneakers.”
After days of rain, it was pleasurable to see the sunshine and the trip to Bucaramanga was done in record time... just under two hours! The Chicamocha Canyon was vastly different from all the rain... all the cacti and other growing things were swelling and green and the Rio de Chicamocha was roaring down the canyon.
Just upon arrival in Buca, the rain started and followed me down the other side of the mesa. Due to the excessive amounts of rain, there were a number of places where the land has slid anywhere from 10 to 50 or even more feet down onto the road, carrying rocks, trees, and other plants with it. But all the blockages except one had been bulldozed away. 
Although an incredibly dangerous act, the driver was
leaving the same stop we were and I have to think he
was aware of his 'tailgater,' as he drove slowly up the hill.
Two hours north of Bucaramanga took me out of the state of Santander and into Nord de Santander, countryside that was still very mountainous, and also very green, but with long stretches of flat land that provides a lot of grazing for cattle and horses. But the small villages along the way are, for the most part, exceptionally dirty with trash from daily living scattered throughout the pueblo. And in the cleaner towns apparently the residents take their trash out to the roadways and dump it there. There are a number of signs that stipulate “No basura aqui!” (No trash here!). Colombia needs to help their populace learn how to recycle and give them ways to dispose of the non-recyclables that doesn’t blight this otherwise beautiful countryside.
I found a small, but clean “hospitaje” just as the sun was going down. The patron, a woman, showed me a room with two beds... concrete platforms with mattresses inserted into them...for $15000 (about $9 USD) and in a few hours, in spite of flying ants swarming in the room, I was asleep.
This appears to be the milk 'wagon' getting ready to
make a delivery someplace.
Venezuela begins about where the mountain are. This is
from the Departmento Cesar (state), north of Bucaramanga.
The next morning my failure to inquire about hot water came back to haunt me. The shower was a pipe and clearly had only one spigot... COLD! But it was clean and soon so was I, although shivering.
Breakfast was two scrambled eggs and an arepa (corn pattie cooked on the fire) with some wonderful fresh jugo (juice) of mora... a red berry that looks like a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry. Breakfast was not included, but for the equivalent of $3 USD, it was a good deal.
Back on the road at 8, the road continued downward and by the time I reached border of the next state, Cesar, the mountains were more distant and the vegetation was that of rivers and flat agricultural producing areas. And the temperature was higher as was the humidity. The young men in their military uniforms at all the checkpoints along the way made a point to be standing in the shade.
If you look carefully at the bicyclist just behind the moto,
you can see he is carrying not one, but TWO washers!!
As I worked my way north to the seacoast on the Atlantic/Caribbean side, the color of the skin of the natives seemed to be darker, there were more palm trees (in fact, grove after grove of them) and the other plants and trees had a more tropical appearance. And the road got straighter and better.
Sales of mandarinas were slow, I think, at this 'bump' in
the road, one of about 50 we passed over on this route.
I arrived in Riohacha, in the state of Guijara, just before sunset. I don’t know what I was expecting, but the city is like a larger version of the villages... not mud huts exactly, but the construction seems older, shabbier and the alley ways are muddy and  narrow. Colombian “resort” it may be, but it has a long way to go to match Mexico’s Cabo San Lucas for style and charm. The hotel I found was hardly three stars and yet it was full, so I could only have one night there for the equivalent cost of $75 USD. The room was sparsely equipped with a single bed with a horrible mattress and a set of bunks, cheap dresser and a small TV with poor color. In the U.S. this would have qualified as “fleabag,” (not even one star) but here it is considered “upscale.” Perhaps because the room has AC and a hot water handle...but no hot water! However, breakfast is included.
The security guard told me it was not wise to walk on the beach at night. So since “night” begins at 6 p.m., my planned beach walk was postponed for the next day. Instead I went for dinner at the hotel restaurant which was clean and pleasant and had their version of steak for about $8.
This was all the sunset to be captured in Riohacha, Colombia.
After a steady day of driving - not stopping along the way except for gas - I was exhausted and after using the hotel’s wifi access to check my mail, I was able to fall asleep on the mattress from hell... I am too spoiled, I admit it!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Discovering more about Colombia

A few of San Gil in Santander, Colombia from the edge of
the Rio Fonce which is near flood stage from all the rain.
I decided it was time to take a trip to find out more about Colombia, so I will be posting short updates as I have internet access. For now, just a quick note as to where I am headed and what I have seen so far. I am aiming to reach the northern coast on the Caribbean side to see Santa Marta and Cartagena, depending on weather and bunches of other things.

There has been so much rain that many of the roads have very large, even HUGE boulders either on them or right next to the roadway. El Presidente has advised people to not drive after dark because of the risk of being injured either by falling rocks or by hitting something already in/on the road. So all my traveling will by done by daylight only!

So check in once in awhile and I hope to have some interesting pictures to share... ciao, amigo/as!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Birdwoman in Colombia

Some of my friends know how much I love birds and how much I miss my sweet African Grey parrot who fell in love with my best friend's husband... I will be going back to Florida to visit that friend and the bird very soon! But in the meantime, I've become the rescue Birdwoman in Colombia when two very different kinds of birds required assistance.
Green Parrotlet, native to Colombia and the region where
I am staying, found on the ground nearly done in.
One was a tawny colored dove which had had an open wound just above the beak and was fluttering around at dusk unable to get flight. I gently captured her with a towel and put her into a wicker basket for the night. The next morning she was still alive and eager to fly and took off brushing past my head as she went. I smiled as I watched her strength and was glad the cat didn't get her.

The next rescue was a day later when I was walking with my hostess along a path and we saw this lovely green miniature parrot lying limp on the ground. I gently picked it up and began doing Reiki and breathing little breaths into its beak. This bird, it turns out, was the female of the species. In the picture above you are seeing the results of the Reiki... the limp little bird was coming more alert.

The little spot of blood on my hand was from the bird's eye which was damaged so there was grave concern as to how it might do overnight. Still, it was able to cling to my finger, so I was encouraged.

Off it went into the wicker basket as well for the rest of the day and the night. Just before going to bed I looked inside and the dear little creature had its head under her wing, clinging to the wicker. The next morning I could hear the birds gathering everyone together and I quickly took the little basket outside, seeing through the slits that the little bird was upright and bright-eyed.
This little bird was recovering and able to grab my finger
with her claws, a good sign.
"Ready to go, little one?" I opened the top and before I could reach my hand in to lift her out, she was on her way, zooming past me to catch up to her flock. She was out of sight before I blinked my eyes.

What a delight to see such progress and to know that I had foiled the cat once more. But there was another surprise in the trees. About noontime, I heard a commotion in the tree next to where I was working. I looked up and saw the largest flock of green parrotlets I've ever seen. They were all chirping and sounding off and although I looked for the one I'd helped, I couldn't see her in the mass grouping. But I had the strongest sensation that they had all come over to let me know that they appreciated my help and as soon as I said "You are most welcome..." in my head... they were back in flight again.

Call me crazy... I am the Birdwoman and probably deserve the adjective... but the universe has an interesting way of giving messages if we care to pay attention.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Month In the Country

Just as the sun was setting, I was getting ready to have a
look at a house that was for rent, but the owner was not
readily available.
It seems hard to believe a month has passed and I am beginning to count the days until I head back to the NW to start to sort out my life in the U.S. I had a long conversation with my host tonight about the various aspects of "control" and how my life seems very much "out of control" with no particular plan. When I started on this journey, it all seemed to be so clear and now I have no road map, hauntingly similar to what those with MM face as they try to make sense of unfamiliar territory and language.

So tonight I simply sat and watched the sun go down, knowing that tomorrow is another day with new challenges, new ideas, new activities. Like Scarlett in "Gone With The Wind," I have decided not to think about it now, "I shall think about it tomorrow."

And, now just as I am writing this, another surprise from Madre Tierra... more rain - I can hear it on the clay roof, sometimes quite intense and with thunder. This always changes things, because with lots of rain the roads become impassable again. So any plans made have to be adjusted and modified.

Now I really will have to wait to to see what tomorrow morning brings when I get up and assess the weather. One thing is certain, the weather is definitely not within my control!

Finally there was a night's end without rain, so I sat and
quietly watched the sun set and the delicate colors that
Madre Tierra was painting for my pleasure.

Friday, October 8, 2010

New Paths

Walking up the path under the mango
trees, past the lemon tree on the
right and into the sunshine ahead.
Sometimes we are forced onto a new path, sometimes we have the choice of taking one or another. I am sitting with the idea that I am in both places at the same time - being forced and also choosing. It is a strange state of affairs, but I am in the perfect place to reflect on this process. The spiritual energy of Corasoma and of this part of Colombia provide me with an excellent support system for new growth.

While the daily routine has been restricted somewhat by the voluminous amounts of rain in the Santander state (like the states of Oregon or Washington sometimes get in the winter), a day with sunshine is heralded and possibly even a trip to the pueblo is possible.

Today several of the residents of Corasoma made the journey which should normally take about 20 minutes and were detoured due to 'rhumbas' (rock falls) and over-flowing streams so that the trip actually took 45 minutes. I joked that Madre Tierra (Mother Earth) is doing her own version of the Rumba and all her jiggling is making all her jewelry fall off.

I wanted to get a photo of the vacquero (spanish version of cowboy) herding all the vacas (cows) which was one reason our progress was so slow, but it just wasn't possible. Just imagine that we became part of the herding process as the recalcitrant cows wanted to go other places than the road ahead and we had to honk and rev the engine to keep them moving forward. Such fun!

I thank my readers for their kind comments and observations. It is helpful to not feel quite so alone on this new path, whereever it is leading me.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The View from Here

This was a photo I took and "photoshopped" it into a
more artistic format. Hope you enjoy the view!
The view from here, as long as we are not in the clouds from the rain, is lovely and peaceful. Yesterday we saw a rare blue butterfly with wings of the most heavenly azure iridescent color. It flew within inches of me as I saw having a cup of tea and I realized how fortunate I am to be here now. Even with all the rain and the various "michus" (pests), I am becoming part of the picture, not just an observer.

The pueblo of Barichara sits high on a ridge of volcanic
strata. And much of the ground is this iron-filled clay
which makes a nice rammed earth home, but doesn't
come out once it stains the clothes.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays, while I am here, I am part of the local chorus preparing for the Christmas festivities. It is chance that is rare because non-natives are not usually included and I am getting a chance to learn music in Spanish! And to learn the local festival songs as well...

This "waya" or street to the finca was under-
mined by the ditch being dug which filled up
with water. Poor planning and bad results.
I love this village and the people I am meeting. My dream would be to have a place of my own to come back to, but for now I have to take care of personal business first. For those who have been following this blog, it is with sadness that I report that my traveling companion, Jey-hu, and I have parted ways. The details are a detraction from the beauty of this land, very like the corruption that lurks within the management of Barichara causing the streets to be impassable because of bad decisions and the weather.

So it is with someone who has chosen to be less than forthright, undermining a partnership, making it impossible to travel on the same road together.
All the rain has benefits when the sun shines; the sunflowers
bloom and bring wonderful seeds for man and beast to eat!
So, while the rains have been falling, they wash away roads and yet nurture the land. My life is similar - a road has been washed away in terms of having a planned route and there have been tears. But the sun is going to shine again and I do not regret this journey one bit.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ticked off and such...

Greetings, amigos y amigas... Since the arrival in the campo, I have been assaulted by bugs of all sorts, in part due to the rain. But the worst are the miniscule ticks which embedded themselves all over my arms and legs. I didn´t realize that the itching wasn´t just from a bug bite, but a miserable infestation laid out every couple of inches on my legs by this dreadful pest. The solution? Find a pin, straight or safety, and forget about disinfecting it... just start digging at the little (VERY tiny - about the size of the periods in this posting) dots until they bleed, then use some alcohol (don´t drink it or you´ll never get the job done) and finally the itching will stop.

I am at the local internet cafe (no tea or coffee tho) and so I will have to post my photos for this week another time as I didn´t bring a flash drive with me this time. I had to rush this morning because there were people needing a ride to town and I had an appointment with one of the co-founders of Corasoma who is a massage therapist. ¿Good? Claudia is excellent! If you get to Barichara, just ask anyone how to find her for an appointment and they will set you up. She is well known and very, very good.

All is OK with me except for the bugs... when the sun shines, all is right with the world... otherwise we are struggling with mud and sinking roadways and falling rocks in Santander, but everyone is working to keep things together, so come on down and see this lovely part of the world!!