A Vacation from the Vacation

Three days.  It took us three days to shit on our plans and flush the budget down the toilet.   I am acutally pretty impressd we made it that long!  The cramped quarters in Bogota combined with the great reviews we heard about San Andres Island, gave us about a five mintue diliberation as to whether we should make the two hour flight to the Caribbean island.

San Andres was exactly what we were looking for.  Great weather, good people, and cheap (flights/accommodation excluded) There are plenty of tourists and the locals speak English.  So my act of being a narcaleptic every time I am forced to speak Spanish has been put on the back-burner.  We have met several backpackers with great tips and ideas.  We also met some that are at the end of their trip and a little jaded on the routine of travelling.

While we sat at the computers trying to work on our budget and blog, there was a backpacker sitting next to us and the conversation picked up about travel plans.  He noticed we were working on our blog and mentioned he had one of his own.  “That shit will fade as your trip progresses” he stated.  Fade?  It took a monumental amount of energy and time to throw together the few paragraphs of content we have!  Fade?  Fuck it.  Facebook updates and a few pictures thrown on our walls is going to be it from now on.  No point in fighting the inevitable.

The good thing about San Andres is there isn’t much to report.
Day 1 – Went to the beach. Drank Rum.
Day 2 – See Day 1
Day 3 – Took the bus around the island.  See Day 2

The third day we also met a guy from South Africa.  He had organized to go out to a club that night with a group of Swedish backpackers.  The rum didn’t seem to be hitting the spot anymore, so we switched to the second cheapest vodka the island had (hey, we have standards).  After a couple of hours and a bottle down, the first gauge of our intoxication levels was offered up by our new favorite South African, Warren (Big-dub).  It was the lucky chance that classic rock had come up on the ipod.  Warren inquired about our collection and mentioned he had won several talent contests and many rounds of applause for his full rendition of Dire Straits ‘Sultans of Swing’ on air guitar. The stars were aligned and the amusement gods were shinning that night.  Warren proceeded to play the entire song completely on rhythm.  Every cord was perfect and the dancing, head whipping, and facial expressions would have made it hard for even the Russian judge to give him a poor score.

Around 11pm, the three of us headed upstairs to grab a couple of beers at the hostel bar and meet up with the Swedes.  It was about the second beer down and the willingness to attempt salsa in a public place that I realized the vodka had done the job.  The Swedish group comprised of three girls and one guy.  Needless to say, they had no problem organizing a free ride for us to the club.  Piled in the back of an extended golf cart, we weaved our way though the streets of San Andres.  We made it to the club around midnight and stumbled out of the club around 1am.  The budget busting idea of coming to the island has put us on a peanut butter sandwich lunch and potato dinner budget.  Paying the club price for a beer that is the equivalent of buying an entire bottle of rum from the grocery store didn’t sound appealing.  Leaving the club was an easy decision, deciding how we get back to the hostel was not.

The Mission: Find he Hostel
Complications: High level of intoxication, drove to the club and have to walk home, don’t know where we are, don’t speak Spanish, don’t want to pay for a cab.
Grade: D-

We stumbled out of the club like new-born calves.  Our legs unstable, our eyes blinded from the club lights and covered in a gross layer of sweat.  We zig-zagged around people smoking and made it to the middle of the street.  We marveled at our ability to finally stabilize.  Legs shoulder width apart, knees shaking, arms extended out for balance, I slowly erected my upper body to the vertical-ish position.  Yes.  Just as I expected, absolutely no fucking clue where we are at.  After a quick glance left and right, Sally made the decision that we have to go left.  The street to the right dead ends and turns into shops.  We came by golf cart.  Therefore we have to go right to go back the way we came.  Now this isn’t long division she is doing in her head, but I was still thoroughly amazed by this simple decision.  With all the confidence in the world, we tilted our heads in the intended direction of travel.  Our lower bodies doing a walk/jog/pivot to keep ourselves from face-planting, and our journey began.

Eight blocks later and an unknown number of pit stops and right hand turns, we consulted each other to better understand the planned direction of travel.  It was at that point that we realized neither of us had taken the head navigator position and we were simply going where our wobbly legs took us. Frustration set in.  We eyed each other up and made a note of the nearest weapons.  It was unspoken, but we both knew the other one would have to supplement for food if this turned into survival situation.  A few more blocks of broken down shacks and empty streets, a few more grumbles about who was to blame, and suddenly the silent night erupted with a loud and ferocious bark.  The events that followed are still being disputed to this day.  From my perspective there was a push-off sensation that propelled me in the direction of the dog.  As I looked to my right I see Sally combat rolling into the street and leaving me to fend for myself.  Sally claims the noise made her jump and she tripped into the street.  The dog left to be the only true judge of the events.

Either way, once the excitement died down we realized the dog was a block and a half away and on the other side of a fence.
The bruised knee and ego added to the difficulty of our journey.  Ten more minutes passed and we finally see something we recognize!  Is it possible!?  Have we done it?  We both agreed that we knew this road, we have been here before, we are headed home!  As our excitement peeked we turned the corner and saw what it was that we remembered….. the front of the club.  Turns out the unknown quantity of right hand turns was four.  It took us an hour + and a life threatening situation to get right back to were we started. Well done Bret and Sally, well done.

After both agreeing to take the right to the dead-end and shops, it only took us about 10 minutes of the bobble head walk to get home.  The next day on our morning run we jogged right by the club.  Sure enough, we had been by that very spot several times our first two days on the island.  It was at the end of the beach that we had been visiting every day.

Day 4 – Went to the beach and drank rum.
Day 5 – See Day 4
Day 6 – See Day 5
Day 7 – We packed up and took off for Cartagena.

We touched down this afternoon and are working on wrapping up the blog, pictures, budget, etc.  San Andres was amazing!  The only criticism it gets from us is the poor selection of street food.  If you like deep-fried dough around canned chicken, a hot dog, or questionable cheese, you are in luck.

We will leave you with a few point-and-shoot snaps from our week-long vacation on San Andres (in random order).

San Andres Island, Colombia

Collapsing in Colombia

Sally turned ghost white. “I don’t feel so well,” she stated.  Right before she leaned back, rolled her eyes back, passed out and started convulsing…

We touched down in Miami around 6pm on the 24th.  The warm air was a welcoming change from the February winter of Seattle.  My boy La picked us up and the airport and we wasted no time getting settled in.  We spent the night catching up and planning our day at South Beach.

Miami

South Beach was another late finish to the night and an early start to the morning.  The reality of our adventure finally set in the next morning when we were waiting in line at the airport and were the only ones not speaking Spanish.  This became even more concerning after we boarded the plane.  The air hostess stared at me blankly when I asked her a question in English.  Shit.  Our Spanish on disc lessons covered the entire range of “essentials”.  The only problem is we are only about a quarter of the way through them.  I quickly devised a plan of action.  The next time the stewardess came our direction, I did what any man with  a sense of pride would do.  I pulled my hat over my face and pretended to be asleep.  Sally struggled through getting us some water and food.  My valiant effort did not go unnoticed.

We touched down in Bogota and made our way to the hostel.  It was a pleasant relief to be greeted in English.  We unloaded our bags into the 4X6 cell that many inmates would object to as cruel and unusual punishment.  White peeling paint, a bunk bed, and barely enough room to do prison style work outs (tested our second morning).  We couldn’t be happier!  We then ventured off to explore our surroundings and grab a bite to eat.  Our excitement to have our first taste of Colombian food quickly turned to chaos.  We clumsily stumbled through our order, pointing and saying “si, dos por favor” until the waitress left and brought back food.  It wasn’t two bites into the soup when Sally said she wasn’t feeling well.  Within seconds she turned a ghost white, fluttered her eyes, and rolled her head forward.  I jumped up to save the table from a horrible Sally head imprint.  She went limp and started convulsing.  About 45 seconds later and a few slaps to the face, she came back to.  I quickly jumped up and used every Spanish word I knew to try to explain my wife wasn’t feeling well.  Turns out she doesn’t handle high altitude too well.  Considering that was expended in about 10 seconds, I decided to repeat them a few times to get my point across.  Sally waved at me from the table and told me she was feeling better.  We grabbed the food to go and made our way back to the hostel for the afternoon.

We savoured our first meal of the day and decided to chill in for the rest of the night.  The hostel was very chilled and quiet so we thought it would be a great time to catch up on some sleep.  10pm rolled around and in rolled the late night crew.  Five English guys and two American girls were competing for who could live up to the “loud obnoxious” stereotype the best (the patio area just happened to be right outside our prison cell).  Once 5am rolled around and they called it a night, Sally and I decided it was a tie.  We managed to get a quick nap in before the hostel morning crew were up blasting music, getting their day started.  The second day of our trip was spent wandering around the streets of Bogota, trying to work on our Spanish and taking in the Colombian culture.

After another sleepless night, it was time to get out and see some shit.  I (Sally), was feeling adventurous and suggested we make a trip out of town to see the Catedral de Sal in a small town called Zipaquira.  Initially, Bret was a little reluctant to take the 1.5 hour bus ride out of town but after a little pep talk, we were on our way.  Surprisingly, it was quite easy and uneventful.  Once in Zipaquira, we made the brief walk up to the Cathedral and spent a couple of hours looking around.  Catedral de Sal is a Roman Catholic church that was built in a salt  mine, 200 meters underground. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_Cathedral_of_Zipaquir%C3%A1)  Bret and I agreed that the long journey out of town was well worth it.  With not much else to see in “Zipa” we started making our way back into Bogota (during rush hour traffic).  Feeling tired from the long day and lack of sleep we decided to keep it chill (yet again – damn we´re getting old).

After little deliberation, we decided that we needed to escape our prison and planned the next leg of our trip – a vacation from our vacation!

Bogota and Zipaquira