So….for the first time since 2018 we are having small regrets about being homeless by choice. Yes, we’ve moved yet again. In the middle of a pandemic. My parents are snow birds and it was time for them to fly (well, technically they drove, but birds don’t drive) back to Wisconsin. While they would have let us stay at their house and would have been happy to have us (well, at least for a week or so until they got sick of the house constantly smelling like garlic at dinner time), we thought it was best for everyone if we moved on.
So, where to start? This trip to Colombia was not nearly as magical as our trip in 2015. Part of that is due to the fact that Robert arrived sick and, just about the time he started feeling better, I came down with something. So, our first two weeks were spent with one or the other of us battling an illness.
Many people think of Colombian food as meat and starch, and there is quite a bit of that to be found. But, we happen to really like the food in Colombia (especially the street food). So, what foods do you have to try? Well, let us tell you….(these are in alphabetical order).
Aguardiente: Aguardiente is the local alcohol. It is generally anise-flavored and doesn’t have a ton of alcohol in it (generally, under 30%). I didn’t care for it, but Robert enjoyed a shot now and then. No photo though. We had intended to get one when we returned to Colombia after our visit to Ecuador but that obviously isn’t happening now.
My favorite thing about Minca was the birds. (In case you are wondering, Robert’s favorite thing about Minca was visiting the organic coffee farm.) Colombia has the highest diversity of birds in the world. In fact, there are over 1900 species of birds found in Colombia, equivalent to 20% of the birds found in the entire world. Crazy, right?
So….when we last wrote about Covid-19, we thought we were going to hunker down in Ecuador to ride out the Covid-19 storm. We had a large, safe and comfortable apartment and the rent was affordable. We had figured out how to order groceries and have them delivered (maybe…our delivery was initially scheduled for March 24 but got pushed to April 2 so we will never know). Ecuador was taking the virus seriously. They had locked down the country. They weren’t even letting their own citizens return (the first known case of Covid-19 was brought in by a citizen who had returned from Europe). The mayor of Guayaquil had actually ordered vehicles out onto a runway to prevent planes from landing (not the wisest decision, as the planes were supposed to evacuate foreigners back to Europe). Everyone was under a curfew (4 pm to 5 am in Guayaquil,, which has now changed to 2 pm to 5 am everywhere in the country). Nobody was allowed to leave their homes except to get groceries and go to the pharmacy and bank. Even then, only one person per family could leave at a time, and cars could only be driven every other day depending on which number your plate ended in (even the taxis were bound by this rule). Groceries were limiting the number of people allowed to enter at any one time (and moving to a system that only allowed each person to enter two particular days a week depending on the last number of their identity document). Mobile internet providers had been ordered to increase speed (yes, increase). Visa requirements had been waived (both for people inside the country and those outside of it) until 30 days after the crisis ended so tourists would not be overstaying their visas and those trying to get residency wouldn’t have to start from scratch. Food was being delivered to at least some poor people. The government had assured the populace that certain services like electricity and internet would not be disconnected and nobody would be evicted even if bills were not paid during the emergency. The military was getting involved to ensure compliance with the various lock down rules. And, the word was that health care workers would actually come to your home to evaluate you if you thought you had the virus. (No, I’m not joking.) We watched how little was being done to flatten the curve in the US, how many Americans were “preparing” by buying guns and ammo, and thought “hmm…we are safer in Ecuador.”
When we first read about Minca, it sounded like a wonderland. The blogs we read used words like “paradise” and “idyllic” and “picturesque” and “lush” with “cool mountain breezes.” It was “the real Colombia,” or so we read. Lies, all of them, lies.
So, wow, this is one strange year, right? Things were going along just fine and then “boom” the entire world changed almost overnight. At least for us it did. We were having a grand old time in the Galapagos Islands (I’ve included some photos now because it may be awhile until I get to those posts) when we got an email late on a Saturday night from the U.S. State Department saying that Ecuador was closing its borders in 24 hours for tourists and 48 hours for citizens. We frantically jumped on our devices to try to get flights off of the islands and to Guayaquil on the mainland and then out of Ecuador (even though we weren’t sure that was the safest course of action). And, then, we watched as website after website refused to load or crashed just as we thought it was going to load. Gotta love the internet in the Galapagos. Not. We were finally able to determine that we could get a flight off the islands on Monday (only a day earlier than planned) but it would cost about $600 per person. That was expensive enough that we couldn’t bring ourselves to pull the trigger immediately. Big mistake. When we looked again, the tickets were long gone.
Hey! Get your head out of the gutter (I’m talking to you dad)….this post is about the famous door knockers of Cartagena.
Cartagena is yet another UNESCO world heritage site. I don’t think the doors or the door knockers were included in the UNESCO listing, but perhaps they should have been.
One of my favorite critters in the entire world is the sloth. They are just as cool as can be. (Robert thinks they are kind of creepy. He is so wrong….) So, imagine my excitement when I learned there were sloths in the heart of Cartagena. And, imagine my squeal when I actually saw one….