Tobia

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Southamerica

My days in Colombia are counted, so it is kind of difficult to decide where to go and what more I actually have to visit. Time and money limits as always. I’m still studying and since the university is like school, I don’t have too many possibilities to travel far distances in Colombia. I just wait until the end of my semester.

On a Sunday I had the chance to go with a good friend of mine to Tobia. My friend is a guide of adventure trips and so the plan was to do some canoeing and rafting there in Tobia.

We went to Tobia by bus, which took around 2 hours or a bit more. It is amazing how fast the landscape is changing in Colombia. You only drive out Bogota and then you find another climate and landscape. So we actually ended up in Tobia in a smooth…

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The two faces of Bogota

Bogota the big city, many times it is really difficult to leave all the air pollution, the noise and the busy lifestyle behind you. But there are ways! The only diffiuclty is to find them and to know about it.

But yes I heard about such an emergency exit. I asked some friends about it, they as well heard about it, but couldn’t help me further. Only this year in 2012 I found finally someone who actually went with me. This was good because finding the entrance to the emergency exit out of the big city isn’t that easy.

We needed to cross a funny and interesting subsurface way until we could finally enter into the natural “park”.

This “park” is not a park, it is “only” the mountain which is the borderline of Bogota. These mountains actually constrain that Bogota would grew more to this side. Anyway we went to a small door and we found ourselve in another world. We started to walk up the mountains, which actually was a really good workout and up the mountains we obtained a great view of the city and of course we gained a lot of fresh air.

 

That morning we only started really late our walk. Around 7.30am…so when we finished this little adventure trip we couldn’t leave the mountains through the same door because this door will be locked for security reasons at 10am. So we needed to cross a stream and climb over a fence and then we were back to city life. This was a great experience and the right thing to leave the city behind for half a day. Thanks to my friend 🙂 !

 

 

As well have a look at this article:

http://www.colombia.travel/de/official-bloggers/entry/christina-zimmermann/bogota–eine-der-gefahrlichsten-stadte-der-welt

 

Tobia

My days in Colombia are counted, so it is kind of difficult to decide where to go and what more I actually have to visit. Time and money limits as always. I’m still studying and since the university is like school, I don’t have too many possibilities to travel far distances in Colombia. I just wait until the end of my semester.

On a Sunday I had the chance to go with a good friend of mine to Tobia. My friend is a guide of adventure trips and so the plan was to do some canoeing and rafting there in Tobia.

We went to Tobia by bus, which took around 2 hours or a bit more. It is amazing how fast the landscape is changing in Colombia. You only drive out Bogota and then you find another climate and landscape. So we actually ended up in Tobia in a smooth temperature of 25 degrees. I should mention here, that nowadays the “winter” came back to Bogota. So it is raining all the time here. For that reason Tobia was the best choice.

First of all my friend gave an introduction to his group about his activity, safety rule and how to put on the climbing gear. This we would need to do the rap off in the waterfall there.

After the introduction and the great breakfast, we were going to leave to get to the waterfall. Only in this moment another 3 persons of the activity group arrived. It is amazing that they were so relaxed while being late more than an hour. But everything was fine, they could participate. From there we went a short way with a really small and cute train to the start point of our walk. The trail was going along a big and dirty river, which is called “rio negro” (the black river). This river was really deep black and didn’t invite at all to take a swim there. More over the current was really strong, so you better stay out of the river at all. The plan was to do rafting in the afternoon, but unfortunately we didn’t find enough persons to participate. So it was only the canoeing.

Back to this story:

To get to the waterfall, we had to do a walking trip through a ditch which was great and relaxing. This walking trip was really funny because everyone was getting really wet all over. Only the two guides and I stayed dry because we were jumping from rock to rock. But in the end we were wet as well, because the rapping off in the waterfalls you can’t really avoid the water and moreover, for entering the waterfalls we were actually there. The rappel wasn’t that exciting because the waterfall didn’t offer lots of water, but still it is a good kind of adventure and I think with more water in it, it can be really exciting. During the rappel you have to change rope because there were two stations. To get to the last station has to jump from the rocks into the water and swim or dive to the last station. This was good fun.

But in the afternoon we were all happy to get some warm lunch and the possibility to change clothes. Back to Bogota I thought I will be freezing to dead because the climate change Tobia –Bogota was that big, but after a good night sleep, my body was adopted to this climate here in Bogota again.

Special Days in Bogotá –Stories out of context

Daily life in Bogotá doesn’t really exist, I would say. But of course I’m going regularly to my university and this is a kind of routine, so a bit of the daily life I have.

        

But nevertheless in Colombia there is not a daily order like in other countries. Every day is different and special. Especially the climate (four seasons during one day), the timetable of the busses and Transmilenios (TM) doesn’t work either and well, being late here in Colombia is kind of normal with this crazy infrastructure. But you always got to your objective somehow or somewhat. If you go by bus, sometimes someone is entering in the bus to earn some small money, so you can pass your time by listing to poems, self-written songs or life stories. But the busses don’t have their own lane on the streets, so with in the rush-hour-times it takes a long time to get to your place. For that reasons I’m taking most of my time the TM.

With this public transport you are normally on the safe side, but as well there are events which change the timetable and working hours of the Transmilenio. For example at the beginning of this month there was a strike in the public transport. So some streets were closed by the protests, so all the TMs took one way as you can the in the photo. As well you could find many police men in the station, who were there to prevent the worst.

The public frustration with the TM is increasing because the busses and the stations are always crowed and sometimes you even have problems to get out of the bus. As well the original TM plans anticipated 170km of lanes. But instead Bogotá only have 84 km of completed lanes. All this leaded to the strike…but the public transport system always is difficult to solve in such a big city. But surprisingly you get used of all this and in the end you are fine when you actually get to point A to B.

Funny and completely out of context is the story with the names. Here in Colombia almost everyone has four names (two names and two surnames). Well when they heard my name, they asked me “That’s all!?” or “Isn’t that a bit boring!?” or something like that “What do you do, if you have a double ganger, a person with the same name”…Well in fact I do have a third name and many persons of my nationality too, nowadays we have the trend of double names after a marriage moreover, but the names here seems to be without end. I always have the problems how to call the persons. So in the worst case I call a male person: Juan or Camilo and for the females I would guess: Ana, Angela or Maria…Well it stays difficult. But back to my third name….my third name is Anita. Whenever some of my German friends heard that name..he/she was singing “Anita,Anita” (Costa Cordalis) or just laughing over this name. But here in Colombia “Anita” actually doesn’t exist. Anita is a diminution form of Ana. So everyone was delighted over my other name and liked it very much. This was a completely different experience.

Some photos from my “daily” life in Bogotá:

Laguna de Guatavita

On a Sunday I went with two friends of mine to the Lake Guatavita, which is located around 40 km north of Bogotá. I always wanted to go there because I saw many fascinating pictures in the internet and furthermore the Lake Guatavita offers as well an interesting history.

The Lake Guatavita was one time honored by the Muisca, indigenes like the Incas. It is said that there the legend “El dorado” took place. In short words – the legend “El dorado” says that the king of the Muisca was ritually covered with gold dust at a religious festival held in the Lake Guatavita.

For that reason there were many attempts made to find gold in the Lake Guatavita. But none of the results were really successfully. Nowadays you can visit the Lake Guatavita as a tourist attraction. So you have to pay an entrance fee and then you can walk a small piece at the side of the lake. But before it became such a tourist place you could actually walk around the whole lake and spend the weekend there. It is a bit of a shame that you only have a small bit to walk next to the lake nowadays.

   

We started our tour from the “Portal de Norte” to the village of Guatavita. From there you can catch a van which brings you up to the entrance of the Laguna.

There you follow a solid and visible way to the exit. The walking way takes around 45min. It is indeed really short, but the view on the lake is great indeed.

         

From the exit you can as well take a van, which brings you back, or you just walk, what we just did because the climate this day was really great.

The village Guatavita is really worth visiting as well. The tourist center is really cute with all the white and nice houses.

        

The old village of Guatavita was submerged in the waters of the Tominé Reservoir and was rebuilt on higher ground again. The Tominé Reservoir, a big lake, is an important water supply and it is used as well for water sports and other water-related events. Moreove the people of the village or of other place nearby go there to relax and to spend the day at the Reservoir. It is a nice recreation from the city of Bogotá.

         

Official Blogger – Vitrina Turistica de Anato 2012

In the context of the new project “Official Blogger” we were invited to visit the event “Vitirina Turistica de Anato 2012”.

Every year this event takes place in Bogota in the “Corferias”, which is the center international for negotiations and expositions.

There at the exposition you can inform yourself about the tourist attractions in almost every Department of Colombia.

        

        

Furthermore many companies present their offers to the public, hotels, ecotourism, adventure tours or cultural and culinary details. As well you can inform yourself about other countries of South America or just enjoy the artists.

      

          

But as we are Official Bloggers for Colombia we were mainly collecting information about this awesome country. Well it is indeed amazing that Colombia is the first country that established this kind of project. So I really hope we can promote Colombia more to foreigners because Colombia is just great. And we Bloggers, we all fell in love with this amazing country.

      

So back to the “Vitrina Turistica de Anato 2012”: We were shown around and had of course plenty enough time to walk around and look at these things which we are interested in. In the morning time we had a little lunch break – delicious juices and empanadas.

           

Later on, Proexport offered us more of good food. We had pig, rice, salad and platano with nice fresh lemonade. This really was delicious. And for dessert we had a kind of Tiramisu which was tasting good too. All in all it was a really interesting day. Thanks very much for this opportunity.

     

Which I forget to mention…Last but not Least: We got a great black vest to start our day at the Vitrina Turistica. On the back of this nice vest stays “Official Blogger – www.colombia.travel”. Really great idea!

I’m confused…winter in Bogotá!?

On Sunday I went out to visit a friend of mines. I took first the Transmilenio and then I walked to the place where we wanted to meet up. And you should know that in Bogotá all the streets have a special number depending on their location. This order is kind of a raster, so it isn’t that difficult to find places, at least you always know, if you are on the right track or not.

Anyhow, I was walking from the bus station to this place and found myself in a quarter which was closed this day for cars. So many people cycled or walked in the middle of the street. In Bogotá every Sunday a different quarter is closed for activities like this. So yes, I enjoyed walking this street. In the end I was half an hour before the actual meeting time. So I sat and watched the people. Then suddenly it began to rain out of nowhere. Luckly my friend came and we sat down in a café and had both café late with milk which did not have lactose in it. Yes this as well exists in Bogotá – milk without milk sugar.

During this time inside, the sun came out again and it seemed to be a nice day. But short time before we actually left to buy some stuff in the supermarket. It started to hail. Only a bit, but when we arrived in the supermarket the hail was really heavy. The cars which parked in front, started to make annoying noise. Of course their alarm went on, because they were hit really hard by that hail. As well the roof in the supermarket couldn’t stand the hail. So water came in but nothing more happened.

 

Well it looked like it snowed on the street and felt like the world is going down. But these kinds of climate changes are normal for Bogotá. As I said, Colombia doesn’t have seasons like summer or winter but many seasons during one day…sun, hail, rain, wind…almost everything.

 

San Andrés

San Andrés is an Island of Colombia, although its geographical position doesn’t give a hint of this belonging. San Andres is situated 770km from the coastline of Colombia but only 190km from the coastline of Nicaragua. As well the Island is very small, but as usually little things have a great value. This happened to me with the Island San Andres. I could never imagine living in such a small place surrounded by only water…but this Island and its people have their charm. I fall in love.

        

The climate during my stay in San Andrés was really great. It felt like 30 degrees in the shadow, so that I really was happy about the wind. Not only to keep me a bit cool, as well I started to do windsurf and so it was my friend and enemy at the same time. The wind gave me the possibilities to navigate and to obtain velocity, but at the same time the wind changed its direction and its forces. So I landed a lot of times in the water.

         

Santa Marta and Cartagena were my first places at the Caribbean. I had a great time but there is no possibility to compare these places. San Andrés is so different to Colombia. I wasn’t really feeling that I’m still in this country. As well many people on the Island speak a mix of Spanish and English which is called creole. This has an historical background. The people on the Island are a mix of African, English and Spanish people. I heard that the people from San Andrés don’t like to speak Spanish because they want to distinguish themselves to the Colombians. Well I realized that the people from the Island talk to each other in their language, but with me they talked Spanish. And all of them were really nice to us Tourists. It is really great to live nearby to the people of San Andrés and not to be separate like in other places of the Caribbean.  But well as I said San Andrés is very special to me.

      

      

During the night time you can go to the city center, walking there or dancing in one of its discotheques. Or you can chill out in one of the reggae bars which are situated around the Island. During day and night time there are mostly motorbikes on the road. Motorbikes with up to 5 persons! It looks dangerous but for them it is normal. They grew up with this kind of transportation. One child is sitting in front of his father and behind him there are his three girls, but all are looking really happy and not anxious with their situation.  As well these people have an inborn talent. They can dance, sing and make music. It is just amazing. Their instruments are simple but they can play it so impressively good. One member of a band used an animal skull to play music; the other one had a self-made trammel. You just have to see it with your own eyes.

       

      

Although during my stay not everything went right and leaded to some moments of stress, all in all I enjoyed my time there to the upmost and my mind is still there on the Island.

        

Aswell I really want to thank my mum&dad for the great trip and the nice fotos we took together.

And last but no least:

El Cocuy

The National Park „El Cocuy“is situated in the eastern Andes. 3 departments of Colombia share this beautiful Park: Boyacá, Arauca and Casanere.  “El Cocuy” is mainly dominated by mountains, of which 19 summits are covered with snow, and of course the national park offers 300 Lagunas which are an important water reservoir for the country.  The water in the park is really clear without any contaminations. Well the only contamination could be the feces of the horses or donkeys.

A friend and I stayed one night in the village “El Cocuy”. We were really tired after spending 10 hours in the bus. So we tried to recover quickly in a Hostal there, to start early the next morning.

The next morning we got up really early to search for a transport up to the entrance of the national park. I was reassuring myself, if I’m really fine without bringing loads of water with me. My friend told me that I don’t have to carry any water with me because the national park with its 300 Lagunas offers loads of drinkable water. So we only went with the needed food up to the entrance of the national park. We got there with a Jeep. We had a load of stuff with us and the way up to the main entrance isn’t that great to walk. Well after almost an hour in the Jeep we were at the entrance of the park and paid the entrance fee. Yes you have to pay to enter there, but it isn’t that expensive and it is worth it.

After this payment we went to our next “stop”. For our backpacks, filled up with food, tent, sleeping bags and warm cloths, we hired a Mule (mix of donkey and horse). We only started our way up to the “Laguna de la Plaza” with the most important things like energy food, rain jacket, sun cream and drinking bottle, which we filled up during our way whenever it was empty.

So all in all we were walking around 7 hours and it was really exhausting for me. I wasn’t really used of this altitude of 4.000 m. The highest point of 4.500 m we reached two times. We had to go over the Cusiri Pass to reach the “Laguna de la Plaza”. Between these two high points we had to cross a valley. So it was an up and down, up and down.

But finally we reached our aim. I was surprised by an awesome view. I was really overwhelmed. I was so exhausted and with an awful headache, that I thought, that everything is a fata morgana, but the next morning I was relieved. Everything was so real.

They stay at the “Laguna de plaza” obviously didn’t offer any luxury. So you couldn’t take a shower or something. You could have washed yourself in the Laguna there, but the water was really cold. As well during night time it was really called. I was sleeping with my winter underwear from Germany and still I felt the cold. During daytime the sun was heating you up and you need loads of sun cream, but after 5pm, after sunset, it was immediately very cold. And then you only want to get into your tent or drink something warm.  But every suffering of cold, sun, wind or the headache of the altitude was worth it. The sunrises and the view over the clouds were really impressive. Just really, really awesome!

The days in “El Cocuy” passed really fast. I only had two full days there. After one quiet day of light walking and a relaxing phase we went to summits nearby. I think we almost got to the 5.000 meters. The view was awesome and the walk exhausting but really enjoyable. We went as well to one glacier there. This was an impressive view!

Celebrating Christmas in Cali

 

It isn’t my first time to be out of Germany for Christmas time. But it is the first time outside of Europe for the Christmas period. And of course I’m suffering a bit of Nostalgia. I’m missing my family, my dog and my friends, but as well, you won’t believe it, I’m missing the wintertime. Without the cold, the short days, the uncomfortable weather I don’t really get emotional in front of Christmas Eve. One aspect is similar, in Germany and in Colombia you can already buy Christmas things in November.  After Halloween the shops fill their space with Christmas stuff. Loads of it!

All the houses and apartments are decorated in the beginning of December for the Christmas period. The decoration is colorful. The illumination changes its light velocity and it’s colours. The Christmas tree as well has this kind of illumination. So sometimes I rather felt like in a disco than in the Christmas period. This kind of decoration I saw in Bogotá, Medellín and in Cali. So I think it’s similar in whole Colombia.

But Cali is special. You have such a warm climate there, that I only thought about summer holidays and not about buying Christmas presents. Another big thing in Cali is the “Feria” where are many street processions, parties and loads of Salsa. Well this starts at the 25th of December. So there is not much time to being in a German Christmas mood. There you are just dancing, celebrating and talking all the time. Well it feels like summertime!

The day of Christmas Eve we started really calmly. We watched some TV and in the evening we had a light dinner. So on the Christmas Eve we didn’t have to prepare anything because already the whole apartment was decorated and since the Colombians don’t have real trees the tree was already decorated and inside. Loads of free time, but I realized that you need this time to relax during daytime because in Cali life is during nighttime. You will see what I mean.

There is one special traditional which I almost forgot to mention. This tradition is a preparation for the Christmas Eve and it’s called “Novenas”. It is a catholic custom in Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador. The last 9 days from the 16th to the 24th of December they pray together in their circle of neighbourhood, family or friends. The prayers are about Maria and Joseph, the time before the birth of Jesus. After the prayers, every person reads a paragraph, they sing together. I as well was part of the reunion. Every one of the family was invited. After the “Novenas” we were siting, drinking and eating together. It was a nice reunion of the family. But this all happened in the night time, around 10pm. For them it was early and after midnight we danced a bit of salsa in the apartment. This was really nice but really different to that what I’m used to do in the Christmas period.  But still I enjoyed it big time to be part of this other culture.

But now back to the Christmas Eve. As I said we prepared I light dinner, what means sausage and potato salad, accompanied with Champaign. Well some of you would think now, sausage and potato salad sound a bit more German than Colombian. No this kind of meal was different. But well I ate it. After the meal we left the house around 22pm to visit the rest of the family which means aunts and grandma. There we got another meal, and guess what it was the same sausage with salad and rice. And it wouldn’t be the last one. As the tradition in Colombia says the presents will be handed out at 12pm. So the kids in the family were really excited half an hour before the big event. Normally the Colombians don’t really put importance to the time, but at the Christmas Eve the presents were handed out at point 12pm. We would be really happy with this punctuality.

After this great familiar meeting (Thanks again!) we went to the other part of family. There we got as well some present and guess what else!? Yes the Christmas meal. And of course it was the same. But it was a great night. We had drinks, talked and danced Salsa. So only at 3am the first guest went home to get some sleep before the „Feria“will start. We did the same and went home „early“. At 4am I was in my bed. It was a pleasure to celebrate Christmas with this nice and friendly family from Cali. Thanks so much!

The next day we didn’t bother to go to „Feria“. The reason for that decision was some changes which were made. They changed the route of the street procession and for some shows you need to buy a ticket. This was new, so we decided to watch the important things of the “Feria” in the TV and spend the rest of the day outside at the river “Pansa”.

For me it was a great decision because the dad of my friend Ale and I went by bike, the rest in car. I was delighted that the family was so great to organize a bike for me. After so much food the day before I was pleased to get some workout. The river is a popular place to spend the day with your family. This kind of things is really in common here. Sunday or Saturday you will go out with your family to eat in the park. The women cook beforehand in the house and then they take all with them.  As well they had really big barbeques in the streets besides the cars. Well I was a bit shocked but they just will say: Keep cool. Nothing will happen.  Anyway we went up hill with the bikes and it was good fun. Unfortunately I didn’t have so much time to take photos. But the natural park near Cali is beautiful.

       

         

The „Feria de Cali” started with the traditional horse riders, which is called “Cabalgata” the following day. Normally it should have started by 1pm, but as usually it has delayed. So we got to see the first ones two hours later. In the mean time we enjoyed the crowed and some drinks. Some impressions of the “horse show”:

      

      

     

       

This procession wasn’t structured at all, at least for me it wasn’t. Some Colombians said later one that the structure and organization of this “Feria” was a lot of better than the years before. But who knows…and of course the male people were very attracted to the female riders.

        

 

But not enough I also had a sightseeing tour in the city center. And I visit my first Zoo in Colombia. I wasn’t really overwhelmed by the city center of Cali but the Zoo was really impressive. The animals are really fascinating. And as well the butterfly garden was great. Many visitors had butterfly on their hands or clothes. So it was easy to take some nearby photos from these nice creatures.

         

              

          The city center offers  as well nice places to visit and there in the older part I really find some great artwork. What I liked most in Cali is the way of living, the salsa, the feria and its crazy and friendly inhabitants. But here my impressions of the city: