Brazil- Rocinha

In Rio we went on one of the Favela tours. We chose Rio Adventures and they were not very good. I learnt very little about the favela and I learnt a lot about our guide. Unfortunately, I learnt he was a tosser. He seemed most keen on convincing us he knew everyone in the favela. If he had spent as much time talking to we who had paid him, rather than they who had not, the trip may have proven more informative. I did learn that the tosser knew the word for favela in 27 different languages and, tediously, he stepped through each one until even the favela cat (who spoke no languages and had the most to learn) got up and walked away.

Rocinha is a “pacified” favela which I think means the drug dealers have gone but the method of their departure was unclear. I could have taken a view from the guide from Rio Adventures, unfortunately, he  gave nothing more than superficial background, made his spiel in dented english and ran. I surmised the running was to prevent anyone asking a question that would reveal his ignorance.

According to our guide the favela has 280,000 residents. According to the website of the company that employs him, Rio Adventures, it has 120,000 residents. According to the Brazilian Government census of 2010 it has 69,161 residents. According to various web sites the census understates and the true number of residents is between 100,000 and 200,000. All other numbers and statements here are unconfirmed repetitions of the guides words. They should be treated with more scepticism than would usually be applied in respect of a paid guide.  The residents have title to their homes, but I saw none for sale or rent. When the drug dealers went the residents were compensated with cheap satellite TV. The guide suggested the drug dealers still own the legitimate businesses in the favelas. There are 631 hairdressers and 1200 motorbike taxis. The moto taxis are novel. The favela is built on a steep hill and the moto taxis ferry people, as pillions, from bottom to top for R$ 2.5 ( about 1 USD) ……….with a loaned helmet for passenger safety. The garbage truck picks up twice a day, everyone has electricity and although the guide didn’t say if everyone had water and sewerage it did seem to be the case from what I could see. I thought we were looking at a poor working class suburb built on a steep hill, without adherence to building codes or electrical safety standards, or any standards. It felt safe, although I suspect all favelas are not like this one and this one wasn’t always like this one.

As part of the tour we got to sit and wait in a burger joint while the guide went and got his truck. For 45 minutes (at lunch time!!! ) in Bobs Burgers, no one bought a $5 hamburger, not one person. In Ipanema we queued for ten minutes to buy a small cup of ice cream for $5, which reflects the different purchasing power resident in each of the two areas.

We were pleased that we visited the favela. We really enjoyed the walk down through the favela and the visit to a residents home. These two things took about an hour and a half. This isn’t Trip Advisor, but Rio Adventures were very poor value. Four of us paid AUD240 and there were another four people we knocked into in the back of the open truck, no seat belts. Its just a shame the guide was of such poor quality. But then again are any of the other operators better?

Illustrations:

Rocinha Favela

Rocinha Favela

And again

And again

The electrical wiring was more complex and more apparent than in most suburbs.

The electrical wiring was more complex and more apparent than in most suburbs.

The views as you get higher up the favela are very favourable.

The views as you get higher up the favela are very favourable.

This view was from a home we visited. The home was small but rather delightful.

This view was from a home we visited. The home was small but rather delightful.

The walkways are narrow and confusing. We needed a guide to descend although gravity could have been that guide. The two dangers are the electrical wires and the dog faeces. The paths were heavily soiled and only extreme  vigilance prevented us bringing home a noxious reminder of our visit.

The walkways are narrow and confusing. We needed a guide to descend, although gravity  would have been an adequate substitute. The two dangers are the electrical wires and the dog faeces. The paths were heavily soiled and only extreme vigilance prevented us bringing home a noxious reminder of our visit.

Again a wiring conundrum

Again a wiring conundrum

Good advice

Good advice

And I have no idea what this says. I thought he looked angry.

And I have no idea what this says. I thought he looked angry.

 

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Ecuador- The Triple Jump

In a handful of days, we hopped out of Colombia, stepped across Ecuador and jumped into the Brazilian sandpit of Ipanema beach.

The scenery as we drove to the southern boundary of Colombia turned even more dramatic. A delightful ride.

Colombians drive on the right hand side of the road, Ecuadorians drive on the right hand side of the road. The border between the two countries is a rather pleasant, clean crossing with rather pleasant, clean roads. These rather pleasant, clean roads are all painted and signed for people to drive on the left hand side of the road. There may only have been 500 to a 1000 metres of such roads. The switch of road rules and direction of carriageways was fascinating, confusing and brief.

Ecuador has the best road surfaces we have encountered. We saw roads being resurfaced in Ecuador that would have passed fit for another decade of unmaintained use in most of Central America. The new airport outside Quito is approached by particularly marvellous roadworks. Mountains have been toppled to cleave out freeways and there exists the most extensive slope stabilisation works it has ever been my pleasure to witness.

Ecuador sits over the Equator, La Mitad del Mundo,. There is a monument just outside Quito that marks the Equator. We visited nine years previous and since that time a large amount of money has been spent on building five new museums next to the monument. There is a teeny weeny problem with the Equator monument and that problem is ……………..it doesn’t sit on the Equator. When it was first measured, it was measured and sited in the wrong place. I understand that this was a French engineer. If it wasn’t a French engineer, I am still happy to recognise the equatorial monument placement error as attributable to the French. My very wise son pointed to the extensive new building work around the monument. He mused that it would have been much cheaper to move the monument 300 metres across the road to the Equator than build five new museums in the wrong place and compound the French error.

Arriving at Rio International Airport we got off the plane and went to find an ATM and a cup of coffee. In the cafe was a cigarette display. I am used to seeing health warnings  of the various deadly consequences of smoking and illustrations of body parts. The Brazilian health warning was a new one to me. “Smoking Causes Impotence”, thankfully absent horrifying photos to illustrate. The banner across each packet and across the top of the cigarette cabinet ” Smoking Causes Impotence”.

I don’t know whether it does or it doesn’t cause impotence. I just reflected that the Surgeon General has an understanding of what is impactful upon the audience of Brazilian males and their partners.

Colombian scenery

Colombian scenery

More Colombian scenery. More drama in the scenery

More Colombian scenery. More drama in the scenery

Vierge de Lacas. The Virgin Mary made an appearance here in the late 1700's so an impressive church was constructed and is a site of pilgrimage.

Vierge de Lacas. The Virgin Mary made an appearance here in the late 1700’s so an impressive church was constructed and is a site of pilgrimage.

Proof that we have arrived in Ecuador. The official Llama that greets all overseas visitors.

Proof that we have arrived in Ecuador. The Government Llama that greets all overseas visitors.

The Ecuadorian sports pages tell of the weekends results in the bull ring.

The Ecuadorian sports pages tell of the weekends results in the bull ring.

A thoughtful approach to the Equator. Our Colionis experiment works even though the French error placed the monument 300 metres away from the equator.

A thoughtful approach to the Equator. Our Colionis experiment works even though the French error placed the monument 300 metres from the equator.

Later that evening, 20 kilometres north of the equator our water gushes into the sink and creates a pleasing and clear rotational pattern ( clockwise? anti clockwise? I can't recall now)

Later that evening, 20 kilometres north of the equator our water gushes into the sink and creates a pleasing and clear rotational pattern (clockwise? anti clockwise? I can’t recall now)

We stood in front of the French error that marks where the Equator is not situated.

We stood in front of the French error that marks where the Equator is not.

Otavalo. More lovely scenery, this time in Ecuador

The hills above Otavalo. More lovely scenery, this time in Ecuador

We bounced from Cartagena to Quito in this functional vehicle.

We bounced from Cartagena to Quito in this functional vehicle.

 

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Colombia- Cali, party Chiva

Cali, is visually underwhelming and its attractions tend to leave the question in the forefront of mind…”why did I bother? ” The answer to this conundrum arrives after night falls. Cali is the salsa capital of Colombia, self appointed as such, and possibly attracting dissenting Colombian accents.

Our experience was not of salsa. We have experienced this previously and discovered that we are freer spirits on the dance floor, refusing to be restricted by tempo or convention. We were perfectly suited to the Chiva party bus !!!!!!!

This was an extraordinary thing. A truck had been customised to carry a dance floor behind bordered by 42 bar stools. Room to dance, room to sit, although insufficient room for 42 ………..we were twelve and we twelve could twist and tango to our hearts content. At both ends of the dance floor were speakers. One set alone was sufficient to deafen the audience, in duplicate they left their human cargo twice deafen at the conclusion of the evening.

With a sense of concern as to whether this was going to work we loaded booze and bodies aboard. Off went the truck around Cali. Off went the truck around Cali very, very slowly. The entire two hour trip took place at around 15 k’s an hour, a speed slow enough to enable everyone to dance without creating piles of twisted torsos as the truck accelerated, or braked, both of which it did in the slowest of slow motion.

The music thumped. The strobes and lasers shone, dry ice fogged the floor from time to time and foam similarly caused periodic slippyness underfoot. Throughout all of this we received commentary concerning the sites we were passing. This information, completely inaudible above the music, was the final ingredient to a bizarre evening. It was just fabulous. We danced, we saw the sights of Cali, we waved to the residents of Cali, we annoyed the residents of Cali with some very, very loud music, we annoyed the good natured drivers of Cali by blocking their progress as we crawled through the streets, and mostly………. we danced. We even attracted a fan club of two. Two children, in the back seat of their parents car, followed us and our antics around town. We waved and cheered and they waved and cheered back and I say again……….. it was just fabulous. The two hours of crawling went as quickly, as the truck went slowly, if that makes sense. This was an experience not to be missed .

Our party bus arrives

Our party bus arrives

Fog, foam, laser lights and a poor quality picture combine to provide a perfect impression of the party atmosphere.

Fog, foam, laser lights and a poor quality picture combine to provide a perfect impression of the party atmosphere.

Alex drinks and then dances.

Alex drinks and then dances and never spills.

Dancing to Salsa and others.

Dancing to Salsa and others.

More dancing

More dancing

Farewell party Chiva, you served us magnificently.

Farewell party Chiva, you served us magnificently well.

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Colombia- Guatape

Guatape is three hours east of Medellin. If I had not been on a tour I doubt that I would have placed it upon my itinerary after reading the guide book. I found it to be a delightful location on the shores of a lake, cobbled streets, very friendly residents and  its zocalos…..

The town is famous for its zocalos. This is a word that means base and refers to the bottom metre of the house. Many of the owners decorate this bottom metre with bas reliefs which have been colourfully painted. The pictures tell an owners story, which may be a journey, reflect their religious beliefs, their occupation, the wares they sell. Or they may simply be decorative designs, birds, flowers, geometric patterns. The only limit to the zocalo is the imagination of the person in the house. I wasn’t sure what happened upon moving house. Do the owners remove them and take them away?…..tricky. Or do they create a new personal zocalo at the new house and replace whatever previously was in place?

The zocalos:

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Guatape sits next to a lake. As well as the zocalos the views are fabulous. This from our room, foregrounded by our new bestest friend.

Guatape sits next to a lake and the views are fabulous. This from our room, foregrounded by our newest, bestest friend.

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Colombia- Medellin

Medellin was once a place with a fearsome reputation for violent crime and a place where tourists did not venture. Those of us of who listened to our crystal radio sets in the 80’s knew of it as the drugs capital of the World. At that time Medellin’s most influential citizen, and Colombia’s most notorious citizen, was Pablo Escobar. Escobar was killed on December 2 1993 and Medellin has altered significantly, it is now very welcoming of tourists, which is fortunate for we tourists.

If you arrive in Medellin seeking old and interesting buildings you will be disappointed, as none exist. The Spaniards bypassed the town, which was a late developer; growing after the arrival of the railways in the early 1900’s. It has now grown to two and a half million citizens who live in a valley with many red, tiled buildings climbing up, and clinging to, the steep hills. In common with cities built in valleys, the air quality is less than fabulous. The citizens pride themselves on possessing an entrepreneurial spirit. There is much evidence that the entrepreneurial spirit has been successfully applied to improving Medellin’s circumstances and the town is keen to attract visitors. A freesheet I picked up one day stated that in 2013 Medellin welcomed 47,000 overseas visitors which was a huge increase on 2012. The comparative for Bogota was 889,000. Given my experience of the two places, 889,000 people have made an error of judgement and should have redirected their travel arrangements. So where is this entrepreneurial spirit? We sought it first at the places we consider most fondly, the supermarket, in this case the Exito at Poblado.

The Exito in Poblado is large, contains many product lines with a large car park. Entrepreneurial spirit? Take this..... a bank branch that was open on Sunday !!!

The Exito in Poblado is a monster, it contains many product lines with an impressive car park. Entrepreneurial spirit? It contains a bank branch ……….that opens on Sunday !!!

The map we were given of the city was a fine map financed by a pub with an entrepreneurial, if direct, marketing approach.

The map we were given of the city was a fine map. It was financed by a pub with an entrepreneurial, if  blunt, marketing approach.

If you have no old interesting buildings then take a tall, dull recent building and brighten it with monkey....I count that as entrepreneurial.

If you have no old interesting buildings then take a tall, dull recent building and brighten it with monkey….I count that as entrepreneurial.

Nothing more entrepreneurial than inviting the Village People to strut their stuff. All together now.....ME.....DE.....E........IN I wanna stay at the ME...DE...E...IN.

Nothing more entrepreneurial than inviting the Village People to strut their stuff. All together now…..ME…..DE…..E……..IN
I wanna stay in… ME…DE…E…IN.

 

Medellin’s most famous citizen was Fernando Botero. I say was, not because Botero is dead, he isn’t. I say was, because he left and now lives in Paris following stints in Mexico and New York. He has donated a sizeable collection of personal works to his home town and they sit in the Museo de Antioquia in Medellin. There is a sign in the museum that identifies the number of works and when he donated them. If I added them up correctly there are 156 paintings and drawings and 20 sculptures in the museum. This is more than the 123 he donated to Bogota, which is pleasing given he was born in Medellin (plus Bogota is uglier, less friendly and consequently a less deserving city). The museum fronts the sculpture park or Botero Park where another 23 big, big bronzes sit. It wasn’t clear to me if these had been donated, nothing I read suggested that they had, so I shall name them commissioned works.

Botero In The Sculpture Park

Botero (in memory of his father) in the Sculpture Park

Ditto

Botero

Ditto

Botero

Final Ditto

Botero waves us farewell from the Sculpture Park

Botero, donated by Botero and housed in the Museum

Botero, donated by Botero and housed in the Museo de Antioquia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local guides are often a source of fabulous information dispensed with pride and enthusiasm. Such was our experience of four hours with Adrianna who told of the changes that have taken place in Medellin since 2002 (debate around this date as Alex is sure she heard 1994). If I return to Pablo Escobar, he displayed the entrepreneurial spirit of Medellin. Unfortunately, he let conventional values lapse when he ventured out into business. Providing cash incentives to anyone who would shoot a policeman is horrifically worse than an unconventional moral lapse and illustrates how dystopian Medellin had become under his influence. He apparently is still considered positively by a number in this city!!!!! In 1993, 25000 attended his funeral. The reason for this, according to the guide, was that he provided, the very poor, employment in his business for three months of the year. After this time the labourers would return to the favelas with money, perhaps a motor bike and some drugs for sale or consumption. This was welcomed by those who had few other means of support. But, it led to/created social problems in the suburbs inhabited by these poor. The suburbs came to be run by drug dealers and murder rates escalated.

From 2002 (1994 if Alex is correct) the local Medellin government commenced a bold strategy for change. They negotiated an agreement with the drug dealers, who agreed to lay down their weapons, in exchange for investments in them, and their suburb. These investments took the form of training and employment assistance, provision of social infrastructure and a transport system. The transport system to the houses clinging to the mountainside, are cable cars which were constructed ten years ago and which connect with the metro system in the valley. Slowly, these areas have altered. People have returned to their houses, property prices have risen, the usual forms of law and order are in place and the King and Queen of Spain arrived one day to open  a community centre. On another day, we arrived and opened nothing………no one mistook me and Alex for the King and Queen of anywhere. That was odd as I felt we were regal in appearance…………..warm, yet distant.

Our guide felt the transformation had been very slow. I felt it was an extraordinarily impressive change project. Also a speedy one with application where similar conditions exist now, he says reflecting upon Rio de Janeiro and, closer to Medellin, Bogota.

If Medellin prides itself on entrepreneurial spirit, this project is by far its most impressive expression of entrepreneurial engineering. I consider Medellin a must see destination for a number of reasons with this at number one.

Cable car access. Probably not fevelas any more . 99% have water, sewerage, phone and electricity and the police one more have a  role in a traditional system of justice.

Cable car access. Probably not favelas any more . 99% have water, sewerage, phone, electricity and a police presence.

From up here you do get to see how smog sits in the Medellin valley.

From up here you do get to see how smog sits in the Medellin valley.

 

The Metro system is superb. Its clean, quick,cheap and frequent.

The people in the valley didn’t miss out on  the infrastructure cash splash. The Metro system is superb. Its clean, quick,cheap and frequent.

Finally, back to Pablo Escobar, identified as the architect of social dislocation, violence and effectively civil war.

We visited one of his residences on an island close to Guatape  (actually a peninsula, but it felt like an island as we arrived by boat). It was a very attractive island with lovely views of other islands that all seemed to be single residence locations with those residents occupied by members of the Escobar family.

The main house on the hill, supposedly connected by secret tunnel to the White House by the pier.

The main house on the hill, supposedly connected by secret tunnel to the white house by the pier.

Alex orders a drink at the bar where Pablos shagged out dirt bike takes a strange pride of place.

Alex orders a drink at the bar where Pablos rather tired dirt bike takes a strange pride of place.

The pool  has seen better days. Tadpoles were keenest users on the day we visited. The party area behind never quite recovered from being bombed by the government. I was actually quite surprised. I felt that global drug lords would entertain themselves more lavishly. "Drug Baron" was never on my list of preferred occupations......but it seemed to be less than I had expected from it.

The pool has seen better days. Tadpoles were the keenest swimmers on the day we visited. The party area behind never quite recovered from being bombed by the government. I was actually quite surprised. I felt that global drug lords would entertain themselves more lavishly. “Drug Baron” was never on my list of preferred occupations……but it seemed to offer less than I had expected.

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Colombia- Escape from Alcatraz

There is a popular day trip from Cartagena. It involves taking a boat from the Tourist Pier to the Islas del Rosario 42 kilometres away and stopping at one island which I think was San Martin and stopping a second time at Playa Blanca.

We thought this sounded great. The cost was about $20 per person, it included lunch and the day started at 7:30 and and finished with the return at around 6:00pm. Again we thought this sounded great and more particularly, sounded great value. We booked for the four of us to go on the Alcatraz one Sunday, a boat mentioned in our Lonely Planet book.

It all sounded too good to be true. As with things that sound too good to be true it was too good to be true. With the benefit of experience, the trip is cheap, because its rubbish.

While the trip may have been rubbish, I’m really pleased we did it for the things we saw in, and from, our fellow passengers. First let me explain the rubbishy bits.

The boat didn’t leave at 7:30, it left at 8:30 and we waited for…….not sure what , maybe the sale of more tickets, maybe late passengers.

When the Alcatraz  left, it listed to the right. It listed all day long and when it turned right it listed even more. I made sure we were each in grabbing distance of a life vest. None of the crew seemed concerned about the tilt. I tried not to be concerned as well. The spot near our seat had “160 Passenger Maximum” painted upon the structure in english. I counted the number of passengers. There were 250 passengers. I made sure we were each in grabbing distance of a life vest. We were in grabbing distance of a life vest, and so was every person on the boat, yes there were life vests for all 250, which made me feel a little more relaxed. None of the crew seemed concerned about the numbers on board. I tried not to be concerned as well and convinced myself that 160 was the upstairs maximum. I saw no similar limit painted on the downstairs structure, but that was because I did not search hard enough.

Our day on the boat was ten and a half hours, from 7:30to 6:00pm. Of these 10.5 hours, 3.5 were spent on land and the rest were spent on the boat. Of the 3.5 hours on (is)land, one hour was spent queueing for, and eating, lunch, but mostly queuing for lunch. One hour was spent on the island with the aquarium which is tiny and boring, unless you go to the aquarium……..we didn’t, because, we’ve seen aquariums before, lots of them. We hadn’t realised there would be no other land on the tiny island. The aquarium had consumed all the free space.

We had sixty minutes on Playa Blanca. A beach filled to bursting with tourists who occupied all of the narrow strip of sand that lay between the sea and the rubbish tip/swampland.  The sea was lovely and warm, but all swimming was restricted to the first ten metres of the water. After that ten metres, there were boats and jet skis patrolling to crack the skull of anyone daring to crawl beyond the unmarked frontier. It had been marketed to us as a location to snorkel. With all those propellers and fibreglass hulls, only a very foolish person would concentrate their vision at the sea bed.

The Alcatraz. After ten and a half hours we finally escaped it.

The Alcatraz was our prison ship. After ten and a half hours we finally escaped it.

The seats on the Alcatraz had been rescued from Cartagenas Inquisition museum. We sat on them for 7 and a half of our ten and a half hours . They were torture.

The seats on the Alcatraz had been manufactured to designs seen at the Cartagena Inquisition museum.  The denounced souls were made to sit on such chairs by the Inquisition as yet another means of breaking their spirit and causing them to confess their sins of witchcraft. We sat on these for seven and a half of our ten and a half hours . They were torture, and we did confess our sins of witchcraft.

The Isla of the aquarium. So many people, such a small patch of coral. Many were forced into the sea as there was no land left free for them !

The Isla of the aquarium. So many people, such a small patch of coral. Many were forced into the sea as there was no land left free for them. Pleasingly, most were able to swim and the majority of these swimmers survived the island.

Playa Blanca. Tarps and a few sticks create protection from the sun.

Playa Blanca. Tarps and a few sticks create protection from the sun.

For ten dollars we secured an umbrella and five plastic Bunnings chairs. It was the most comfortable part of our day.

For ten dollars we secured an umbrella and five plastic Bunnings chairs. It was the most comfortable part of our day.

In summary, the respite from the Alcatraz was 90 minutes at a tiny, tedious island and an hour at an ordinary, overcrowded beach where it was dangerous to swim. How is it possible for me to state that I was pleased I endured this lengthy day of discomfort on the prison ship Alcatraz?

The answer is the insight into our fellow passengers. They were almost entirely Colombian, we found only one other foreigner on board. The insight started immediately, at 8:00 am and what better way to start the day than with a few tinnies of beer. This was odd because the Colombians seemed to have one or two for breakfast and then stopped and drank no more for the rest of the day.

Opposite us were a family of three, mum , dad and a toddler aged about three. The parents shared their beer between the whole family. The three year old had a taste for beer, seemingly not the first bottle she had enjoyed. Another Colombian family did quiz them on a three year old drinking beer….so not only odd to our non latino eyes. Perhaps it was meant to pacify the three year old child. Instead she seemed more alert and keen to fight everyone on board, she was an obnoxious drunk. This was accepted with good humour for a while. But she was kicking people. Eventually one man tired of being kicked around the ankles and lower leg. He picked up the three year old and threw her overboard. Problem solved. I want to make it clear that I wasn’t the only person who applauded in appreciation.

Oh , the last seven sentences are not entirely accurate! The operators of the Alcatraz recognise that they run a rubbish cruise. True the boat visits crap destinations, provides ordinary food and risks passenger spinal issues from its seating arrangements. Yet, everyone leaves happy . Why? The entertainment. And such entertainment. We were astonished at how well our fellow travellers embraced it, because they surely did, whole heartedly , with gusto and it made for a jolly trip.

There were party games. Left side of  boat versus right side of boat, girls versus boys. How many towels can you collect? How many ladies bathers? How many T shirts? Now ladies; turn your volunteer man into a beautiful lady using all these things you have collected. Catwalk. Applause , applause and winners declared.

Trivial pursuits based upon the guides commentary…….even though the guide spoke spanish and the questions were in spanish I managed some of the answers better than the Colombians. Then again, I hadn’t had a beer breakfast which I think gave me an edge.

Karaoke was next. This was by far the most popular aspect of the day. The songs were clear favourites. They were all dance songs and everyone sang and danced. It was fabulous. Those Colombians know how to party.

Our captain/MC also did a line in comedy that went down very well. Not with me as I had no idea what he was talking about.

The return trip more of the same. More of the same was building to a grand finale.The MC had changed for the final two hours. He was now suited and it was slightly disconcerting to me that it was a full hour into the second half of his act before he realised that his trouser fly was not zipped. Still no one missed a karaoke beat. Wardrobe malfunction attended to, he launched his final five minutes. Five minutes where I, for one, sincerely believed myself to be in the company of Michael Jackson. What a great trip. Book it, but make sure you sit upstairs and in the shade…..it is not to be missed. I repeat…..Those Colombians know how to party. And it was for this reason that the boat trip was fabulous.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson. Even I was moved to place a token of appreciation into that very hat when it later was passed amongst the passengers.

Michael Jackson. Even I was moved to place a financial token of appreciation into that very hat when it later was passed amongst the passengers.

 

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Colombia- Cartagena, Getsemani actually

We stayed in Getsemani. It’s outside the old walled city, but a very short walk to the old walled city. Lonely Planet describe it as the destination of the budget traveller. It is this, but it also has great bars and cafes and restaurants and reminded me of Fitzroy.

Our hotel was lovely. A little basic but with that essential here. Air conditioning, don't visit Cartagena without it.

Our hotel was lovely. A little basic but with that essential for Cartagena, air conditioning. Don’t visit Cartagena without it.

Right next door a rather gritty apartment block

Right next door a rather gritty apartment block

Getsemani has restored colonial era houses with as much bougainvillea draping as in the old town.

Getsemani has restored colonial era houses with as much bougainvillea draping as in the old town.

See I told you. Bougainvillea and lovely colouring.

See I told you. Bougainvillea and lovely colouring.

It also has attractive works in progress

It also has attractive works in progress

And free spirits with paint cans.

And free spirits with paint cans.

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And public sculptures

And public sculptures

 

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