Dysentery and Coffee

Trip Start Sep 05, 2006
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Flag of Colombia  ,
Wednesday, January 16, 2008

This edition will be short.

For me the highlight, or low point however you want to look at it has been a fierce battle with dysentery. The doctor I spoke to in Leticia shortly after crossing the border into Colombia assured me that I got this dysentery from all the bad things in Peru. These two countries do have a history of feuding with one another, and so doc was quick to diagnose Peru as being my main point of error. This battle contined for most of our time in Bogota until I reluctantly got on the Cipro. Anyone who spends a reasonable time outside the western world is probably familiar with this commonly used potent antibiotic. The Cipro cleared it up alright.

Bogota itself was a bit of a suprise to me. This is a huge city, and like the other andean nations of Bolivia and Ecuadaor, the capital of this country is in the clouds at some astonishing 8,800 ft. Thats rediculous!! For some reason, our western media seems to have protrayed Colombia to me as a densly jungled lowland carribean nation, farily undeveloped but supplying the entire world with and abundant supply of Cocaine and Coffee. I didnt know much about Bogota other than a discovery channel documentary about the street wars in the barrios.

The reality is that this country has all of the climates of the world, and is mostly mountainous, and is by an large full of incredibly peaceful people, known in South America as being the frendliest South American nation. The varying geography is most present in the Santa Marta region in the north where the highest mountian here in Colombia towering some 19,000 feet over the rest of the country, and year round covered by glacier is extremely close the hot steamy carribean coast. The geographic diversity of the country is astonishing. There is lots of jungle, that part the media did get correct, and there is also lots of cocaine farming, and plenty of coffe production. As far as Bogota goes, it is a modern metropolis. The northern part of the city looks like the ritziest parts of Manhattan, Tiffany and Co, Ralph Lauren and Gucci line the streets. In the parts of the city we saw, American and German SUVs seemed to be the choice mode of transport. However in traditional fashion of developing nations, it was common to see more modest modes of transport co-existing with the rich and powerful. Horse carriages with grain stacked to the sky happily galluped along side brand new Cadilac Escalades. Asside from my dysentary, we did see the very impressive gold museum, strolled through the old colonial city with perfectly preserved Spanish buildings, and saw a movie at the nicest theater Ive ever been in.

The Coffee region is a well known must do. Thanks to Kristinas persistence, we stayed in a very small town called Salento. Surrounded by mountains and myst, these foothills are where the world gets its best coffee. Here, people have managed to ditch the SUVs and the most modest method of them all, walking is the prefered method of transport. What more could we have asked for than walking to a small time coffee farm, being given a tour of the farm by a sweet old man, and getting to drink coffee processed in front of our eyes. We also adopted a dog for 3 days, but we were forced to renig on our adoption agreement when we realized that a 20 hr bus trip north wasnt going to be realistic with a dog. We wish her well.

Weve headed north again to the coastal carribean areas arround Cartagena and Santa Marta. Here we plan to catch some much needed R and R before our onward travel to Bangladesh. Hands On Disaster Response has opened project Reyenda in the coastal area of Bangladesh hardest hit by typhoon Sidre at the end of November. Disaster relief is addicting work, and this opportunity was too good to pass up. In two weeks after breezing quickly through the States to sort out visas, we will be in Bangladesh sinking our teeth into another volunteer project with Hands On. Again, we plan to be there for the long haul.

Cheers all, hope 2008 is great for all of us!
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