Piedra del Peñol and Guatapé

I just had the best day!

We had signed up for a day trip to the Piedra del Peñol and I thought we would get in the bus, go to the rock, climb it, have lunch and go back but were we up for a nice surprise😊!

We left Black Sheep at 9.30, 13 people in a minibus plus our guide. He told us we wouldn’t take the normal route to Peñol but a more scenic one so we drove through Medellín suburbs for quite a while and passed through an area where Pablo Escobar build a lot of houses for the poor people in order to win them over as he was running for president!!

Around 11 o’clock we came to a small house in the middle of the mountains where we got breakfast. Eggs with spinach, eggs with tomato, guacamole, corn bread, homemade bread with mushrooms and onions inside (and served with real nutella), fresh fruit, pineapple tea and coffee. What a treat😋!

After breakfast they told us to get up on the roof of another minivan. I thought they were just going to take a picture but no no, they started driving with us on the roof and with our legs over the side, the proper Colombian way. The first 5 minutes were scary, but then we got used to it and started enjoying the view and the trip. They drove through the local communities with no tourists and on narrow and steep roads for about 20 minutes and then we were transferred back into the bus.

From there we drove on a VERY narrow road to a part of the lake where we could swim. There was a bridge about 12-15 m above the water where we could jump from. First I was nahh I am too old to jump but then I decided I will never be too old to do crazy things so I jumped😊! Our guide was very impressed because I was the only one not frozen from fear but “wiiii”ed all the way🤣! After that Kirstine and Anna kind of had to jump as well because they couldn’t let the ” crazy aunt” have all the fun!!!!

Then we drove to Peñol and made a quick stop to see where the town used to be before they flooded a huge area to make an artificial lake.

Then on to the Piedra which is a monolith rock that just rises out of nothing! It is owned by a man who bought the land in the fifties and climbed it using very primitive equipment and it took him 7 days to get to the top. He was so awed by the view that he decided everybody should be able to enjoy that view so he build stairs all the way to the top.

I thought there were 1300 steps to the top so I walked slowly and was going to take a break after 650 steps so I got a nice surprise when I realised the 1300 steps were up AND down👍! The view from the top was absolutely fantastic and the artificial lake was stretching as far as I could see.

When we came down our guide and the “roof top” driver had prepared a nice picnic with two types of rice, four different salads, roasted potatoes, lentils, a very spicy pork dish, a chicken dish and a beef dish. We also got homemade limonade and cake. Everything tasted soooo good!

After that we drove to Guatapé and it was the most idyllic, colorful and pretty little town ever!

The president mandated maybe 15-20 years ago that all the houses had to be painted in bright colots and they had to put murals on the bottom half of the house. We walked around for a bit and the guide recommended a coffee house so we went there and had the best café con leche in a long long time😊.

On the way back we passed the rock again while the sun was setting. A perfect end to a perfect day😃!!!!

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Central America and Colombia

Yay, I`m travelling again😎!

Four months in Central America and Colombia. The first two months I`m travelling with my niece and her friend but after Colombia we go in different directions.

So first stop was Bocas del Toro in Panama for a two weeks Spanish course. I needed to refresh my Spanish and Anna and Kirstine needed to learn Spanish.

Unfortunately it wasn`t the tropical paradise that pictures had led us to believe! It was raining almost every day, there were no beaches close by so you needed to take a bus or a boat and pay $2 per way and the water was murky due to a lot of rivers running into the bay.

The school also had a staffing problem so the classes were not too good. I was in a class below my level so it was mainly refreshing my Spanish but not really learning something new and I didn`t get the intensive course I paid for but just a standard course…

I went diving twice and I just love being in the water with a tank on my back so I`m not complaining about the bad visibility and lack of macro life especially since we saw a new nudibranch, seahorses and a spotted snake eel swimming😊…

The last day the sun was shining so I went out with the boat and did a bit of snorkelling and a lot of sunbathing😎!

After 18 days we took a bus to Panama City (10 hours in the usual freezing cold bus) where we have three days before flying to Colombia the 7th of February.

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Colombia and Central America 2018

And I am off again😎

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Lima to Nasca

Ok so we left the hotel at 12.30 in a private bus. We are 16 people from Denmark, USA, Canada, Ireland and UK plus our Peruvian CEO. Drove to the busstation where we boarded a bigger bus to Paracas. The scenery was pretty much the same as from Máncora: sand and hills! Still pretty amazing though. Arrived in Paracas, checked in to our hotel and went out for dinner. Alim took us to a seafood restaurant on the beach. Luckily they had four chicken options since I don’t eat seafood!!
Next morning most of the group wanted to go to Ballestas islands aka mini Galapagos! After standing in a line and watching the chaos created by approx 500 people wanting to board the same few boats at the same time we got onboard our boat. After maybe 15 min we passed this massive sand dune with a Nasca figure. I just don’t understand how they could make these figures 500 years ago in the sand and they are still here…
Got to the islands and saw lots and lots of sealions, most on land in big colonies all making a lot of noise, some swimming and plaing in the water. There were also lots of birds and humpboldt penguins. It was very fascinating watching it all.
Back in Paracas we grabbed our prepacked bags and got in a private bus that took us to a winery where we tried six different piscos ( and before lunch!)! I liked the dessert wine the best… After that we drove to Huan where we were going sandboarding. First we drove around in the desert in these special cars. Up and down, really fast. It was like a rollercoaster and I loved it! Got to the top of a big dune and got the sand boards out. Had to lie on the stomach, elbows in, feet up, holding on to two straps and then off we went! Soooo funny! Walked up to the next top and now we were allowed to stand up if we wanted! I watched the first eight out of ten fall in various states of grace so decided to play safe and lie on my stomach! Back in the car for some more crazy driving before we got to the biggest dune of the day. I went first on this one and I got really far very fast. It is definitely one of the funnier things I’ve tried!!!
After this we had a few hours lunch break and we could jump in the pool to get rid of the sand and sweat!
Around four pm we continued towards Nasca. Stopped and climbed a viewing tower and saw two more Nasca lines, the hands and the tree. The lines are 30 cm deep, 60 cm wide and some are kilometers long. It is still a mystery who made them, how and why! Aliens? A calender?
Arrived at the next hotel and ate in the restaurant there. The chef was apparently on his own so the food took quite a long time to arrive and most had finished eating before the last person got her food! I found it a bit funny. Next morning I laughed even more when the chef was running around in small confused circles because there were six of us for the breakfast buffet. We asked for more coffee and bread and five minutes later he would bring tea and bananas!
Ten of us were flying over the lines so we went to the airport and got into this small airplane with 12 seats, all by the window, and took off. The pilot explained as we passed the different figures and first he would bank to the left so that side got a good look, then he would turn around pretty steeply and pass on the right and so on through all the lines! We saw the whale, the spider, the monkey the hummingbird and many more. I loved the feeling of being in a rollercoaster but some of the others were very quiet!
I decided to explore the town a little but all the others went back to the hotel to relax by the pool. I walked around, found the Plaza de Arma, a small market, bought earrings from a Columbian guy and had lunch at a local restaurant, potato/chicken pastry and chicha, a local drink made from black corns, cinnamon and something else. Walked back to the hotel and spent a few hours by the pool before we were going to the busstation to catch a night bus to Arequipa.

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So arrived Thursday around 1 pm. Had booked a dorm bed at Point hostel in Barranco. When I saw the room I almost left immediately! It was the most discusting room I’ve ever seen (and I’ve lived in places with rats, cockroaches and rubbish everywhere!). There were dirty clothes piled high on the entire floor, leftover food on the table and a really bad smell. It was only for one night so I decided to stay which I kind of regretted when my lovely roommates came home drunk at 4 am and turned the light on. And off. And on… They also talked really loud and were just plain annoying for an hour even after I asked them to be quiet. In the morning I found out they had also stolen my water so suddenly I got this urge to turn on the light, repack my bag, check the content of my plasticbags and slam the door every time I went out of the room ( which I “needed” to do five times.
Well, back to what I did! After checking in I took a bus to Museo Larco which has a huge collection of pre-Columbian ceramics but is most known for its collection of erotic pottery showing all kinds of sexual acts and also shows sexual diseases… Took the bus back to Barranco and had a delicious burrito for dinner.
Next morning I got up early, checked out of the horrible hostel and in to my new hostel and took a fast bus to Lima Centro where I spent 8 hours… Started at Plaza San Martin where I just missed a huge military event, strolled up to Plaza de Armas where I watched the changing of the guard, a one hour show with music, slow walking with high knee lift, salutes and so on. Went to the catacombs in Monestary San Francisco and saw 70.000 bones, mainly femurs, stacked symetrically… Walked around some more, had a huge roast pork sandwich for lunch and went back to Barranco around 6 pm.
At 6.30 I met with the group I’m travelling with for the next three weeks and our CEO, Alim, explained about the trip and Peru.
Saturday I got up early again and went to Miraflores by bus. Had a spinach/ mango shake and bought a very good bagel for my lunch. Walked along the cliffs next to the beach halfway back to Barranco and took the bus the rest of the way. At 12.30 we left Lima.

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Left Cusco Sunday morning. Flew to Lima, had a few hours lay-over and then flew to Piura. Arrived around 7.30 pm. Met three girls going to Máncora as well and we decided to travel together. Outside we met a guy and a couple who were also going so we decided to share two taxis. A little more expensive but a lot faster. I shared with the couple. They were Peruvian but lived in the States. Arrived just before 11 pm and I checked in to Kokopelli, a small but okay hostel with a pool, poolbar and wifi! Next morning I went for a walk to the beach and around the town. It took approx half an hour!! Went back to the hostel and spent the rest of the day by the pool ( and got badly burnt on “the single spot”, the area on the back you can’t reach on your own!). I found a dive center and even though I heard diving was not good I HAD to dive in Southamerica so booked for Wednesday. Tuesday I did absolutely nothing all day and Wednesday we left for diving at 7.30. Arrived at El ñuro and set up the equipment. First we did left side of the jetty. Max depth was 7 m, viz was fairly good. We saw some rays in the beginning of the dive, a seahorse and three ( for me) new nudibranchs so I was very happy. Second dive was on the right side and again rays and nudis but also turtles! The locals feed them to keep them near the jetty so they can charge tourists for the pleasure of watching them… Not good! But all in all they were two good dives and I’m really happy I did it.
At 5.30 pm I caught a bus to Lima. We drove through some amazing desert landscapes. Some of it looked like Dalí or Picasso had passed by! It was an 18 hour drive but I actually managed to sleep for 10 hours.

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Welcome to the Jungle!

Left Cusco at 9 pm in a nice comfy bus. The road to Puerto Maldonado has just recently been paved and is a part of the trans-oceanic road going from the eastcoast to the westcoast of Southamerica.
Fell asleep around 11 and woke up at 5.30 am because the bus was extremely hot and humid. Realised we weren’t moving and hadn’t been for at while (the driver was sound asleep!)! Wanted to see what was going on so walked to the front of the line where the road was blocked by a policecar. I asked around with my limited Spanish but no-one knew anything! An hour later I tried to find a cup of coffee and even though there were lots of shops selling breakfast, coffee was nowhere to be found! Finally at 11 am we started moving. Well at least 50 m before we stopped again… And started… And stopped… Then we drove for maybe 20 min and the road was fine and I wondered why we had stopped for that many hours until we came to a place where a landslide had covered most of the road. Just after that the bus stopped again and the driver said a lot in rapid Spanish and half the passengers got off. Then the driver pulled the curtains so we couldn’t see the road and started driving!!! I still managed to peak out and most of the road had disappeared into the river leaving just enough room for the bus! That is why half the passengers left the bus and walked that part…
Got to Puerto Maldonado 6 hours late, was driven to the river in a tricycle and sailed down the river for an hour in a small wooden boat.
Arrived at the Monte Amazonica lodge and had to walk a partial flooded pathway. Last week the water stood about a meter over the path and they had to use canoes.
It is a really nice and quiet place with a resident baby monkey saved from the black market, a tame squirrel, two parrots and three cats.
The monkey seems to like me. In fact so much that she climbed up to me in the hammock and slept for about 5 min until she decided to crap on me!!! Then the parrot came and bit me in my toe and finally I realised my bag was full of ants because I had a bag of nuts in it… Welcome to the jungle!!!
Relaxed until 6.30 pm when we went looking for caymans, the small crocodiles. We found a few and the guide caught one so we could take pictures and touch it. Not sure if I liked that he caught it but the cayman seemed pretty calm about it and stayed around when it was released.
Back for dinner and went to bed early. Woke up at 2.30 am and sat outside for a while watching the fireflies. Woke up again at 7.30 in pouring rain, had breakfast and then we went to visit a local family (well sort of local. They came by bus from Cusco and two of the boys had wrist watches). They have a small banana and papaya plantation and otherwise they just live off the jungle and the river. A while ago an anaconda came and took some of their chickens and the grandfather tried to shoot it with bow and arrow but the anaconda got away. We tried to shoot with the bow and arrow, got painted in the face to be a part of the family, danced with the four boys and I bought a few necklaces and bracelets. In the afternoon we went out in kayaks on the river Madre de Dios for about an hour. After dark we went out on a walk in the jungle where we saw a tarantula, a few frogs and other nocturnal life.
Next morning we got up at 4.30, had breakfast and left for Lake Sandoval. First a short boatride, then a 1,5 hour trek through ancle deep mud and finally we reached the lake where we sailed for about two hours, looking at the wildlife. Saw a few caymans, lots of “stinky birds” but not the otters!
Next morning we got up at 6 am and went up on the canopy walk to watch the birds. We were about 40 m up and we saw a lot of birds. Eagles, vultures, parakeets and many more I don’t remember the names of! In the afternoon we went zip-gliding from the same canopy walk. First part was 120 m and I went first. It was really fun but scary to let go. I started breaking way too soon and never made it to the platform but glided back to the middle and the poor tiny guy had to pull me up to the platform. The second part was also 120 m and this time I made it all the way to the platform. At 3pm I went back to Puerto Maldonado and spent a few hours there mainly eating in a nice restaurant before my bus left at 8.30 pm. I don’t know why we had to leave that early because they knew we couldn’t pass the broken part of the road until daylight so around 11 pm we stopped and stayed there until just before 7am when we were allowed to continue. This time I got out of the bus and walked. It was a little scary to watch how the road had just disappeared into the river but we made it and so did the bus. Was back in Cusco at 2 pm.

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Not a typical experience!

Today I went to the temple of the moon with a Shaman, his cousin and two of my friends! One was doing a cleansing ritual and I just wanted to come along to see something new and not a tourist trap.
We left at 7 am. First we took a taxi, then a bus, then a minibus and finally we walked for 40 min!
It was a beautiful place in the mountains with a little waterfall where the Incas build kind of windows where they put their clothes when they were bathing. Right next to the waterfall there was a stone shaped like a bird with beak and everything and the Incas always asked that bird permission to approach and to pray and so did we.
We were all invited to do the initial cleansing ritual and I thought well there is a first for everything and accepted! We each got three coca leaves that represents the world, the heaven and the underworld. Then the shaman took away all our evil spirits and bad memories and threw them in the river. After that they did the ritual with my friend and I was allowed to watch and participated a little. At the end we meditated in front of the Puma ( a rock naturally shaped as a puma head) who is very knowledgeable.
Rested for a while and went back to Cusco where we had a nice and extremely cheap meal.
I have been invited to join them to the Temple of the Sun on Tuesday but I don’t think I’ll be in Cusco…

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Habla español?

The past week has been all about learning Spanish! Every morning I did my homework and studied for approx 4 hours, then I had my four hours of lessons with only 15 min break. When I finished at 6 o’clock I had a shower, dinner and then I studied for maybe 2 more hours…
My head is all spinning and I don’t remember what is past, present or future tense…! I hope it will all make sense when I get a chance to digest what I learned!

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Moray and Salineras

Woke up in pouring rain and thought about cancelling todays trip to Moray, Maras and Salinas but didn’t! Got soaked walking the 500 m to the bus and was cold…

And now my stupid app decided not to publish anymore of my long story. Will finish it soon…

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