The Trip

Columbia, South America 

July 1999

 

 

Off to Columbia on Sunday.  Having never been out of the country before and of course going to Columbia, South America I was in for a real experience.  The airplane was late coming into Miami so we were late leaving.  Customs stops everyone before boarding the plane. They ask how much money you are carrying and of course search your carry on luggage.  They weren't coordinated so I was stopped twice but when I told the second one I had been stopped already he let me pass.  Lucky for me everything said was English and Spanish as my Spanish is poor.  The airline was nice. They have an open bar policy (no cost).  I need a drink by then.  What was I thinking?

 

On the way you fly over Cuban air space. Oh what fun.  Arriving in Medellin, we were greeted by armed security.  The immigration officials spoke Spanish and English thank goodness.  Of course they have to check the plane carefully before they unload it so luggage took forever.  Jeanette had e-mailed me what she would be wearing so I was looking for one color and she had switched on me. Her second e-mail never got to me in time.  Good thing I knew what she looked like.

 

The trip from the airport was fun.  The city is about 30 miles over the mountains.  If you think New York cab drivers are crazy you should see these guys.  It was getting dark but I could still see what  beautiful country side there was as I was holding on for dear life. The city is circled by mountains. It is really pretty all lit up.  The weather was wonderful. 85 in the daytime and 60's at night.

 

Monday we toured the city by cab and the Metro (above ground subway).  Tuesday we toured by car.  This picture was taken from a park at the in the city.

 

Jeanette showed me all the city, good and bad.  She showed me where she grew up and where her family had the textile factory.  We visited the Jewish school where she teaches English.  The school was pretty and they had built a unique playground for the children. It is based on Jewish holidays.  A great way to learn the holidays and have fun too.  We visited a family park called Tutucan where they have small villages of the different cultures in the area.

 

I had a great time learning about the city.  I had a chance before my trip to learn about the city and her family as one of her cousin's wrote a book called "Flora's Suitcase".  The city was like any city. Busy, crazy drivers and the only thing different was the armed guards everywhere.  I had great food. I didn't get sick from eating or drinking either.  I met Mom the first night (below).  She owns her own pastry shop called Hanna's.  The food and pastry's are great.  I even brought back some for Matt.

 

Mother and Daughter

Hannah's Shop

 

Wednesday,  Jeanette and I were off to Cartagena and the beach.  It was a short plane ride to the beach, about an hour.  Our hotel was right on the ocean (Atlantic).  The water was beautiful, the sun hot, and the partner was great.  This is the hotel beach.

Cartagena reminds me of San Juan, PR.  The Spanish influence is everywhere.  The city has an old fort, Castillo San Felipe de Barajas built in 1657.   We toured the city by taxi. $20 for a 4 hour tour.  There were a lot of places to visit.  The old fort, a Convent called La Popa high on a mountain with lot's of history along with the old and new city.  We had excellent sea food and went to a casino.  I broke even at the casino.

This is a picture from the fort looking toward the beach.

Saturday we returned to Medellin.  We went to a club and Hannah (mom) and I had a drinking contest.  The music was fun and of course the company was grand.  I won't say who won the contest.  Sunday we did some shopping and met Jeanette's dad for lunch.  He teaches textile engineering at one of the universities.  We had a nice visit.

 

Monday it was back home.  Jeanette and I had a wonderful time together and she is coming to visit me in December.

I do have a lot more pictures, but there are too many to post here.  I will bring them with me next time we visit so you can see them.