I had Natalie and Becky over for a South American dinner tonight, which was very nice. I got to meet Becky's finacé, she got to meet mine. It's so strange to think that I have known these girls since I was seven, and here we are, different but still good friends.
My dad buys bags of baby carrots, carefully washes them, and then lays them out neatly to dry before putting them back in the fridge, ready for his lunches. Now, I don't think I'm nearly this bad, but it's clear that I've inherited my liking of organization from my dad, so in all fairness I can only giggle a little bit at this.
Some ladybugs on a Russian Olive . . . oh, how I wish computers had smell-o-vision, because these flowers have the most heavenly scent. They are blooming all over town right now, making me suddenly swoon whenever I walk by a bush.
Okay, no excuse today, I just don't have a picture to post. So, here is an old one of a very typical Colombian meal. You get meat of some sort, on the left there under the veggies and sauce; beans, on the bottom; rice, in the middle: veggies or salad, the coleslaw on the right there; and a fried plantain, or starchy banana. Good, filling food, although eating the exact same thing twice a day got a little boring after a while.
Ryan had a bit of a get-together tonight, where we had a very North American cultural experience -- we were introduced to "Rock Band," the new video game phenomenon. I learned that I am even worse at guitar than I am at singing - I was booed off the stage twice! And if any of you have ever heard me sing, you can imagine how great that must sound . . .
We're back in Canada today, but I decided to put up a picture of this park, as it has a lot of meaning for Ryan and I. It is the park where we got engaged about a week ago. I decided to put it up today because it is Victoria Day in Canada, and we plan to get married on Victoria Day weekend three years from now!
We left Buenos Aires today, this time for a very long time. It's always sad to leave a place you know well, but to be honest, I am glad to be moving on. I was ready to leave this city quite a while ago.
We chose the Saltshaker, an underground restaurant in Buenos Aires, for one of our last dinners here (the very last, of course, being steak, wine, and ice cream.) This was my favorite course of the evening, a normally terribly bland and boring fish called merluza (I think it's hake, though I'm not sure) that Dan somehow made into a garlicky wonderfood.
Very sadly, we had to say goodbye to our "Argentine family" today. They invited us to their wedding, their concerts, their Christmas and New Years celebrations, and to many delicious dinners. We are very grateful to them for making us feel so much more welcome in Argentina, and for such warm hospitality.
This is the last empanada we tried on this trip, in the Bogota airport on our way back to Buenos Aires. We've been looking for empanadas all up and down the continent, trying to find the very best. I am happy to report that there is a very clear winner of this unofficial empanada contest: Argentina. They had far and away the best empanadas I have ever tasted. If asked to narrow it, I would say the empanadas from Tucuman would be top of the Argentine list, with those from Salta a close second.
Well, it's our last day in Cartagena, very sadly. Really, it's the last day of our trip, as well. We'll still be traveling until August, but now we'll be staying with friends and family - a much more comfortable time to look forward to.
Ryan and I took a dip in a mud volcano today, which is supposed to have all kinds of medicinal properties. That pool of mud we're in is actually about 200 meters deep, but we could not make ourselves sink if we tried - you just floated on top. It was difficult getting your legs down far enough to be in an upright position. But it was gooey and slimy and warm and almost felt like being weightless. A really cool experience.
Ryan and I spent the day wandering around historic Cartagena today. It's a gorgeous colonial town, lots of bright colors and buena onda, I am really enjoying it. (And it's the setting of Love in the Time of Cholera, one of my favorite books ever! I can't wait to read it again being able to better picture the setting.) We sat in a peaceful, green, shady park for a while this afternoon, and happened to catch a performance by a Caribbean dance school! They could really shake their stuff, let me tell you, and gave us an amazing show.
We followed the statues of General San Martín (liberator of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Peru) all over the southern half of the continent, and are now up into Simon Bolívar's territory (liberator of Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela). This is the bed where he died.
Ryan went diving today, and I came with to do some snorkling. Quite nice - warm water, good visibility, a few really cool fish. We even saw some flying fish jump right next to the boat on the way back!!!
Today, I have a very special treat for all the readers out there. This is the typewriter that Gabriel García Márquez used to write A Hundred Years of Solitude. (Which is generally agreed to be the greatest novel in South American literature ever, as well as one of the best books in modern literature.)
We visited Aracataca today, which is Gabo's hometown, and also the model for Macondo, the town in A Hundred Years of Solitude. It's a sleepy small town, where the siesta is long, where things take a while to get done, where outsiders are still a curiosity. At the moment there isn't even a museum to the man considered the number one South American novelist of all time, although the post office does have this typewriter and a lot of newspaper clippings about him.
I don't know - to most of you, this probably isn't all that impressive, but I have been a huge fan of his since reading Love in the Time of Cholera in high school. It was one of the first great novels that I read and was completely sucked in by, and is still my favorite love story.
We have really been missing juice since leaving Taiwan. Got a bit of a fix in Sucre, Bolivia. But now, here in Santa Marta, we are really getting our fill of juice. The place across the street from our hostal will blend fresh juice in these giant pitchers for just over a dollar. We have at least 2, sometimes 3 a day. I usually get mango. Oh, I want some juice right now . . . .
After an absolutely terrible bus ride (it was our last overnight bus, so it was only fitting that there should be a guy puking for hours right behind me), we arrived on the beach today! We're in the town of Santa Marta, on the north coast, right on the Caribbean. It feels soooooo good to be out of the mountains, back in warm, oxygen-rich air!
I promise this will be the only lovely tropical sunset picture I put up, though.
Okay, okay, a lot of people were grossed out by the guinea pig, so I decided to put some more normal food up. Kidding! Ants are not exactly common food down here, but they are considered a very healthy addition to any diet! These ants are especially good for you, it seems. We tried them, and found them to taste buttery, and way more like meat than you'd expect. Not bad, but I don't really every need to eat them again.
We visited the famous Gold Museum in Bogotá today. They're doing renovations, so we couldn't see the whole collection, but what we saw we really amazing. It's mind-boggling to think that 1, 2 thousand years ago these people had the same metal-working skills as goldsmiths today! This is a jaguar, a very important animal in the mythology of ancient Colombian cultures.
Today is Labor Day in Colombia, a national holiday. The students decided to take advantage of this, and have a great big rock-throwing protest! Ryan and I saw the whole thing (and very nearly got caught up in it), from gathering, to shouting, to throwing rocks and destroying public property, to tanks coming in and hosing everyone down and tear-gassing them. (Don't worry, we were well out of the way by then.) We never quite figured out the goal of the protesters, but it was clear they were unhappy with Uribe, the president.
I began taking a photo each day on the day I moved to Buenos Aires in August 2006. It's been over five years now, through normal working life in Argentina, a trip all around South America, a long visit home to the US, teaching in Taiwan, traveling around the Middle East, living in Vancouver, and traveling around Canada.
I have a few lapses, but I decided that it was better to feel good about the blog instead of feeling like a slave to it.
These photos are the things that I see - things that are common or interesting or odd or delicious or beautiful or terrible - things that catch my eye in some way. This blog is a way for me to keep in touch with family and friends so very very far away, an extended photography lesson, and a kind of daily journal of my own impressions of places both new and well-known.