Micah: Unmitigated


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Posts Tagged ‘“Crime and Punishment”’

Into The Great Wide Open

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

I love the smell of sunscreen in the morning; it smells like victory. Now, Cabo De La Vela is not your typical Caribbean paradise, lacking palm trees (or really any trees), beach chairs, and most of life’s luxuries. To me though, it is a wild, unfenced desert peninsula, ripe for exploration.

My trip began in the crazy, end of the paved road town called Uribia. The arrival of me and my pack sparked a friendly wrestling match between truck drivers, with the victor triumphantly jogging to his rig with me in tow. An exciting ride with occasional stops to drop and pick people up, seemingly in the middle of nowhere.

My first night was spent in a small hostel, with a group that I met on the ride in. They consisted of a German man, his Colombian wife, the wife’s friend, and 2 Swiss guys they met a week ago. The fellas all spoke good English, as well as Spanish, so they helped a lot, and once again I felt like a stupid monolingual American.

first night in Cabo

first night in Cabo

The accommodations were 6 hammocks strung up under a thatch roof, right on the beach. My translators helped procure a ride to see the nicer beaches out of town and a secret sunset spot. Fresh fish was twice cooked for us by the next door neighbor, which was expensive but very good. The group left the next morning, but it was good to do some drinking and socializing.

After their departure, I moved to a more gringo friendly hostel down the sand. The largest casa around, I got my own “room” with hammock and a friendly staff, none of which spoke my native tongue. Off the beach a little but still a good spot to swing and read. No real showers or mirrors made for a relaxing 6 days of not caring what I looked like, though I did take the occasional picture of myself to see how sunburnt my nose was getting or how wild my salt and sand filled hair looked.

the room got raked once a day

the room got raked once a day

As far as activities, for me that was easy once I saw the vast landscape. I made a goal of hiking to the top of every high point and succeeded. Throw in a cool salt flat, nice beaches, and a dramatic coastline, and I wore myself out. I alternated hiking and reading days, always with a healthy dose of salt water.

A typical hiking day started at 9 am with a general direction. I looked for sticks to protect myself from a possible sheep/goat attack, because I know that one day all livestock will rise up against their human oppressors and just want to be ready. We gave each other enough space as I made my way from one pinnacle to the next. My favorite stretch was along the northern coastal ridge-line, dropping some 100 meters straight down to the waters below. These are my ideal hiking conditions: 360 degrees views unobstructed by trees, gradual ups and downs, wind cooled, ocean views, changing rock formations, swim breaks, and all to myself.

My playground

My playground

The other positive aspect of Cabo is the type of travelers it draws. Not a party destination though it is a kite surfing spot, I met some laid back blokes. With only about 15-20 gringos in town at a time, I often saw the same few people wandering around and exchanged the usual hello. One night a group of 3 outgoing British girls moved in next door and we joined with another group of 3 (a Dane, a Deutchlandian and his UK girlfriend; all kiters) for some drinks until our servers wanted to go to sleep (10pm). Always good to hear from people on the same path.

There were still a few hawkers roaming the beach, but as opposed to the bigger cities, they were all soft spoken indigenous women. I decided to purchase myself one of their bracelets, thinking that it could serve as sort of a wedding ring, letting them know that I have made my decision and am off the market. Though I did not take into account the opposite effect. Apparently, a man with a bracelet is a more attractive customer, showing that one is willing to go all the way. Initially, I took offense to the notion that I look like a multiple bracelet type of guy, and that they thought I could juggle 2 or 3 at a time. But I had to consider the practical applications of having alternate versions. Maybe one day I get tired of my first bracelet, after time has taken it’s toll or it is tragically lost while swimming. At that point, I would be happy that I had one on the side, so that I wouldn’t have to go back out there and play the game, especially if I am advanced in years. Thus, I must admit that I picked myself up a 2nd one that is a slimmer version of the first. I think it will look better on my arm in the more hip, metropolitan cities like Medellin and Cali.

By the end of my 6 days, the desire to shower was high, mass amounts of Colombian tourists were arriving for the holiday weekend, I had finished reading “Crime and Punishment”, and my shoes were falling apart: I was ready to leave. Awaken at 4 am to catch the truck back to civilization, I left a small bag of batteries and forgot to latch my luggage lock, which is now in the middle fo the desert (sorry Dad, it was yours).

After 14 hrs of transit, I am now in Cartegena, a beautiful walled colonial city by the sea. A few too many ritzy tourist cafes and shops, a little too hot, and a little too expensive, but overflowing with street food: I am spending 2 nights here before another long haul down to Medellin. Agua salada adiós, hasta que nos encontremos de nuevo.

Stay (Wasting Time)

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

I am taking full advantge of not having time constraints. My 2 night stay here in San Gil has turned into 5.  After the initial downpour on my first night, the weather has been perfect. I have been able to do as much or as little as I want.

Thursday: I strolled through “El Parque Natural el Gallinera”. A beautiful, quiet park, set on triangle shaped land at a fork in the river. Lots of green stuff to look at, but the most impressive was the “Old Man´s Beard” that hangs from nearly all of the 1,800 trees. My favorite spot was near the massive tree seen in the photo below.

Parque el Gallineral

Parque el Gallineral

I sat there for over an hour, only seeing a gardener.  As I walked around the place, I saw my first Colombian snake (Brownish, small head,  about 1.2 meters long). Also saw a lizard on a rock near a creek. I approached in an attempt to capture his image in digital form, but he ran away on top of the water. Kinda cool.

After the park, I sampled the local treat called “Hormigas Culonas” or as we know them “Fat-bottom ants”. They are fried and actually quite tasty.  I took my snack up to a high place called “Cerra La Gruta”, where there is a shrine and great city/valley views. Plan is to head up there tonight for sunset.

I like to think he was praying

I like to think he was praying

Friday: A day trip to Barichara. Quaint, picturesque village sitting above a valley. I hiked the 2 hr cobblestone path down to an even smaller pueblo called Guane. Sometimes scared of the goats and cattle grazing unattended in my line. More desert like, dry and hot. Cactus around me and I drank lots of liquids. Feeling a bit parched the past couple days, when I got back into San Gil I purchased a 5 liter jug of water to keep in my room. Turned out to be a great money saver.

Saturday: Didn´t really do much. After lunch, I sat in the park for over 2 hours and read “Crime and Punishment” while the locals did what it is that they do. I was able to get through the crime part of the book, but I am not as much of a fan of punishment, so we shall see how it goes.  That was my cheapest day so far, totaling about $14.62 USA money.

I have been consuming a good amount of Empanadas, due to the price and portability. The varieties have been: Chicken and rice, beef and egg, or chicken rice and egg. At first, I was ashamed of taking the easy way out so often but now I plan on embracing it and putting my empanadas out there for everyone to see. New to Micah:Unmitigated, “The Empanada Count“.



I am not sure yet how I will display it (H1, any suggestions?), but for now I will just say: E = 14. I think that 200 is a reasonable goal for the trip, with 300 even within reach. I know you all will be glued to your computer, mobile device, or Ipad.

Mañana, I will most likely be leaving this place via a 13 hour bus ride to the Caribbean coast. I think I am ready. Soon, I hope to purchase a Spanish/English dictionary so that I may study up. Watching episodes of “Jersey Shore” with Spanish subtitles, doesn´t seem like the best way to learn. But at least now I know how to ask for hair gel. La playa está a la espera