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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Yup think I am use to the altitude - finally!!

Monday Oct 21

Woke up this morning at 6 and felt great! No headache, stomach is ok so guess I'm finally use to this altitude :)  So I made coffee since its usually Dwayne but he's still in the sack! Awake but not ready to get up yet. Once I make the coffee I put it into a thermos and take it to the main building to enjoy sunshine and wifi. Want to do more searching for things to see and do. I only have plans made to Bogota. So better check a few more places after that.

It is so nice and calm here. We've decided to stay another night and we can do the walk to the waterfall later this morning. Hernando is going to get one of the guys that works here to show us the way because he says there are a few crossroads and he doesn't want us to get lost - gee thought it was only about a 20 min walk πŸ˜‰

We've been on the road now for 12 days roaming with Vanna and have really enjoyed Colombia!! Beautiful country - even if we have to go really high to see it! LOL!!! The people here are all so friendly, always ready to help whenever you need it. Like Carlos, he says wherever you are and you need help phone me - that is so nice to know 😌 We love the food here in the restaurants and the street vendors - all really tasty πŸ˜‹  Grocery prices are cheap and using IOverlander we always find a spot to park. So we hope this continues through the rest of Colombia. Originally we were to spend a month in each country, but since we started out late from Cartegena we'll be a little longer than the end of October in Colombia.  We'll make up for it later because I don't think we will be spending a month in Bolivia.

We meet with Juan who will take us to the falls. We change into our walking shoes and long pants and I get out my hiking poles and off we go uphill.  Told Juan we will be going slow. As we are going up I'm feeling OK.  After about 30 minutes we get to the falls (guess we are walking slow! LOL!). One of the local dogs has followed us and once we get down to the falls he jumps into the water and plays around. Then runs down the path and digs up the path a bit and then runs back to the water! Loco perro!!! But have to watch him because he is big and heavy and can easily bowl us over along the path!  I dont want a "Judy knocked down by dog and broke ankle" incident! After we sit at the falls for bit - which are small because they haven't had a lot of rain lately, we walk over to the top of another small waterfall. Quite a ways down! Juan steps out to the edge and takes a picture for us. I keep watching Loco Perro because he's running around all over the place!

Trudging up the hill with Juan

Juan picked up this rock with a fossil embedded

Pretty flowers along the way

Not huge but calming :) 

Loco Perro playing in the water 😍

You can see the small upper pool above the falls 

Old Man's beard lichens

Juan standing above the second small falls 

I peeked over but couldn't see the falls 

Juan took this picture over the ledge for me

On our walk back

We can here thunder in the distance and figure we better head back home even though Juan says it probably won't rain until 4-5:00. By the time we got back to Vanna we walked 4km.

Later that afternoon it does start to rain pretty heavy and lots of lightning and thunder! So loud here!! But we stay in the main building so I can use the wifi, but that doesn't last long because the power keeps going off and on, so the wifi is disconnected. Juan starts a fire in one of the fireplaces and we cozied up to enjoy it and stay warm. Took awhile to get it going but Dwayne helped it along :)  It's getting close to 5 so will be heading back to Vanna soon and get dinner going. Yesterday I was able to cook up sweet potatoes, black beans, quinoa and made myself 6 veggie burgers to freeze 😍So tonight I get to have one while Dwayne has chicken.

Last night we watched 3 episodes of Rookie Blue (DVDs we brought along) on our little TV from the trailer,  just using our battery and it worked well, we'll probably do the same tonight. Just wish we had some popcorn!! LOL!!

Tomorrow back on the road and going to the little village of Valle de Leyva and new sights. Going to miss this place! But we have lots to see yet and we need to get to a store again, can't buy a lot of groceries at one time since not alot of room in the fridge.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Figured out my "disease"

We arrived at a very beautiful camping area after another slow 6 hr drive. Total of 187 km which shows on maps.me to take 3 hours BUT with all the slow driving vehicles we can usually double our time which normally includes half an hour lunch break.

But the drive is beautiful. You can see for miles and miles on this high roads. When we started there was hardly any truck traffic and things were going smoothly. Then the road started to deteriorate - not to gravel but to pot holes, big dips in the road, and road construction. So this really slowed us down plus going thru lots of small towns.  All interesting but I was getting a little tired just sitting - have no internet so I can't look up anything as we drive.  Plus kept forgetting to look for a place to buy another 2GBs of data.

The views are so beautiful

We see what looks like greenhouses and later see they are covers for tomato plants. So alot must come from this area.

Guess what that sign means...... low beam lights only :) usually when coming into a small town

 One thing I dont like seeing from Mexico all the way here and probably further south is all the signs that go up for elections. Even painted on buildings and rocks. The problem is that these signs remain for years and never get cleaned up. Just fall apart and hang in pieces until they finally fall to the ground. Which can take years!
We decide to stop at a restaurant for lunch. The first one we stopped at was pretty pricey and they had pizza on the menu but not until after 5. So we left and kept on driving and stopped at another one. Sat down and looked at the menu, seemed like a lot of variety but also a little pricey. But we stayed - I just didn't want to drive anymore. Still have a headache and not feeling that great. So I order spareribs with comes with french fries and patacon (fried plantain) and Dwayne goes for the chicken breast which comes with the same sides. Each cost 23,000CP ($10) I know that still doesnt seem pricey to most people but when we were paying $10-11,000CP for great meals in Cartegena, its a little hard to swallow -- LOL!!! But the meals were good and it filled us up enough that supper will only be a sandwich and soup :)

Nice restaurants along the highway

Beautiful amaryllis planted along the parking area

Sweet corn bread steamed in corn husk - instead of bread with the meal

Our view while eating lunch

the decor included this old Singer and a phone with no dial - must have had to put calls thru an operator??

Beautiful painted straw baskets on the ceiling. Very cool place :) 
Back on the road a few more small towns and then we get into a larger city. Looking for water but only find 5L bags - so Dwayne buys 2 - this will last us awhile until we get to a bigger city and refill our 20L bottle. We were to lazy to drive into the middle of the city to look for a grocery store at this point!

Dwayne found a nice car that we could hitch up to Vanna!!

Along the highway we see dairy farmers bring their cans of milk by cart and horse 

Then the milk truck comes along and sucks the milk out of the metal containers

And once completed turn around and head back to their farm
We are looking for a place I found again on IOverlander of a campground. When we turn off the highway it's a gravel road. I check the info again on the campground and it says there is 4km of gravel. So we take is slow - since it is a little narrow, and of course a truck meets us coming the other direction, at least it was at a wider spot so Dwayne had room to move over because the truck wasn't going to!!

We get to the site and meet the owner Hernando. We ask about staying for a couple of nights - no problem. There are lots of cars in the parking lot but he says they are renting the main building for a party. They should be gone by 7pm.  He gets a couple of cars moved so we can get by and set up camp. It is so quiet here, a small pond to look at and mountains all around. No one else is staying here. There are also 5 Casitas around the property that he rents outs by the night. Also has 2 huge army tents with cots that hold 45 and 65 people. His wife Christina who can speak English says that they have quite a few school students that come out for weekends and use those army tents. There is a large communal area with kitchen table and chairs to make the meals for these large groups.

Our beautiful spot for a couple of days. 

And our view 

One of 2 beautiful fireplaces in the main building

The main building

Outside of building.
After we get set up its about 5pm and we're surprised how cool it is getting! I actually have to put on a sweater and Dwayne puts on his jeans and jacket! What a difference. Now its like camping in Alberta in June - cool but pleasant. We even brought out the comforter that has been stored under the bed since we got Vanna out of the container!! Think we will need it tonight.

Hernando comes around and talks with us, he knows a little English so we're both kinda speaking Spanglish! LOL!! He says it will get to about 12C tonight. He comes over a little later and introduces his daughter Katarina who comes out on weekends from Bogota where she lives and can also speak English. As I found out later it is also where Christina stays during the week with both their daughters who are in University.

After making soup and a sandwich for dinner, then read for awhile I was ready to pack it in again for the day and it was only 8pm!! It is so dark and quiet out here - just love it 😍 But had crazy dreams all night - think it was the cheese sandwich that did that! LOL!!

We wake up at 6 and the sun is shining in the window.  Dwayne gets up and makes coffee and we sit outside and enjoy the morning view.  There is a bathroom setup here that is kinda outside. Door to the toilet and shower but the roof is open. Pretty cool. All these building have been built by Hernando over the years. He also does some farming, mostly corn and beans.  Anyways, after 2 coffees I go and have a nice hot shower :) Lots of room and not worried about how much water I can use :)

Toilet is behind the door and then there is a door to the shower which is behind the curved brick wall. All open to the fresh cool air 😍

Enjoying breakfast made by Dwayne :) He always tell me to go ahead and eat because it takes awhile to make his - to hard to get both done at the same time πŸ˜ƒ
But when I get back again I start getting a headache, yucky feeling my stomach. So take some tylenol and gravol.  Then Hernando comes walking by and asked how our night was - told him it was "muy tranquilo"! But that I didnt feel great. He said it was the altitude that was making me feel nauseated and dizzy.  We are at 2340m so around 7000' - so oxygen is thin. He said to drink lots of water and breathe in deep and hold the breath for bit.  Don't walk around fast - take it easy. I said maybe we would do the walk to the falls later in the afternoon. He said the falls is quite a walk up so probably not good for me.  Find out that there is free wifi in the main building so head there after Dwayne makes us breakfast and spend the day "resting" blogging, and looking up places where we plan on going.  Checking out info online about Bogota where we will be probably in 3-4 days.  Dwayne is also feeling so-so. But wondering if it's hitting me more because I'm taking high blood pressure pills??

Later in the afternoon after going out for a horseback ride Hernando, Christine and Katerina return and are making late lunch before Christina and Katerina head back to Bogota. They ask us to join them - thank you! Now I dont have to make dinner tonight 😍  We have beef tenderloin, rice, a pico de gallo type salad with extras and plantain chips. But it was all gone before I remembered to take a picture!! But I did get a picture when we had dessert of homemade coffee and cream ice cream and blackberry sorbet.  It was fun having dinner with them and chatting about our travels.

So we will stay here for 2 nights and see how tomorrow goes and maybe I'll feel better and we can walk to the falls before heading out to Villa de Leyva. Its only about 22km away so should just take an hour LOL!!

Saturday, October 19, 2019


Wednesday Oct 16th

We had a long drive yesterday to get to Bucaramanga. We left at around 8am and didnt arrive in Bucaramanga until around 3:30 and then once we got close to the city it took another hour just to get to the the park in the centre of the city we were going to park for the night. I had read it has free wifi. So why not?? The reason for the very slow traffic is because they are working on a problem with one of the power lines!! Didnt look like they were doing anything when we finally got around it! Waiting for parts? LOL!!! Guess they just didnt want to move the truck once it had the landing gear placed just right! Who cares if it's rush hour traffic! People can wait - but they dont so the buses of course pass and then there is no room to get back into the lane until someone pulls over.

The drive to Bucaramanga was very windy and up and down thru the mountain pass. We did get up to  900m at one point- nice and cool up there :)  Again it was pretty slow going because big trucks go this way to avoid the tolls on the main highway, so of course they just chug along going uphill and passing on these roads is pretty hard!! Not always a lot of time before the next curve. But we didnt have any close calls :)
They really fancy up their pedal carts in this small town.

Another fancy pedal cart - stuffies attached to the back 

A couple hitching a ride on the back of a semi. 

Very strange that there is a highway to the left but not used? 

Lots of truck traffic on this highway

Getting higher into the mountains

Bought a sleeve of mandarins for $1C

Coming into Bucaramanga - must have had a sale on turquoise paint?

Then we see all the high-rise apartments

When we get to the park San Pio we find a level spot to park for the night. Of course lots of people watch as we get out and look at our license plate trying to figure out what planet we are from LOL!!!! A couple of guys came over and "talked" with us. One guy asked about El Perro? and I pointed to Dwayne - Èl es me Perro!!! He just laughed.  We walked around the area a bit, stopped to buy some bread and then of course there were cheese empanadas πŸ˜‹ I had to try with my latte, and Dwayne had a donut. Bought a warm loaf of fresh bread :)  Sat and watched the people for awhile then walked around some more before heading back to Vanna to make supper. Pork chops with onions, mushrooms and zucchini.  Fried potatoes for Dwayne. A little weird making supper with all the curtains closed and knowing people are right outside our door sitting in the park. Once supper was done we sat outside on the bench near the van and used the wifi - not very strong to use inside Vanna. 3 people who are JWs and sitting with their pamphlets talked to me as they were leaving for the day and told me to be careful with my laptop sitting out here. I said Gracias :)  I'm alway careful.  After awhile we decide to head to Crepes and Waffles for ice cream.

Once we were back at the van we stayed outside awhile but of course we are targeted by everyone who is selling something. So we buy a few things, pay for the guy playing a guitar a ways down the sidewalk and then head inside to read. By 10 its pretty quite and we fall asleep.

By 6am people are in the park walking! Don't they like to sleep?? Guess it is nice and cool at this time of day. But surprised how many people are walking around this small park.

We have breakfast, shower inside and then head out to check out some sights. We walk to Sagrada Familia Church a few blocks away. Hummmm nothing like the Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona!! This one was started in 1895 and completed in 1898 so not very old. Sagrada Familia means Holy Family. We walked into the church and they were busy washing the floors so all the pews were on their sides.  We walked around the park across the street before heading back. By the time we got back it was 11 and we walked 5km. That was good because yesterday and the day before I didnt do any walking and my hips were sore in the van.  We wont have to many more long stretches like yesterday.

Morning traffic 

This sounds familiar - Less Taxes, More private business, better pay for the workers LOL!!! The same everywhere!!

Sagrada Familia Cathedral 
Thursday Oct 17

We got Vanna ready for our next move. We are heading to a farm just outside of town. I've read its only 10,000/p and we can use a washing machine! Yea!! need to do a couple of loads of laundry. There is no wifi out there but hoping the setting is nice and we can just enjoy the afternoon there.

We arrive at noon and speak with the owner's daughter.  The owners Alberto and Lucila are away somewhere. We agreed on a price of 15,000 and laundry is 5000 a load. Plus there is water for us to fill our tank.  So guess tomorrow we get to shower again Yippee!!

The afternoon is spent getting the laundry done, having a couple of beers, Dwayne washing Vanna, having a couple of beers and taking the laundry off the line and having a couple of beers LOL!!! Was nice to use the washer but it is not hooked up to taps so had to fill using a hose and wait for it to get to the full level and then the machine would go thru the wash cycle. Then I'd have to go back and put water in again for the rinse cycle. Hey its better then having to wash them in the river LOL!!!

Our view

Just before 5pm Alberto and Lucila stopped by to say hello. Neither spoke any English so it was hard to talk with them. But they did want to take a picture with us and Vanna :)  Then Alberto showed us a rig that was here a couple of weeks ago.  A couple from Spain brought over a big huge camper truck and after touring Colombia they were heading to Alaska.  Told them, oh ya we've been there.... no we didnt say that! LOL!! We've seen a couple of decals on vehicles that say "Ushuaia, Argentina to Alaska' and Dwayne figures we should put on the box at the back 'Fairbanks, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina' 😁  It doesnt HAVE to be ALL in one trip Dwayne says ;)

Friday Oct 18

In the morning when I woke up I wasn't feeling good. During the night my stomach was churning and I thought I was going to throw up - but I'll do anything NOT to throw up! My joints were aching and I had a headache.  Took some Tylenol and got rid of some of the pain. But we decide to leave anyways and head off towards San Gil. We are going to stop at a national park that has a gondola.  We fill our water tank and say our goodbyes. Back onto the busy 2 lane highway to Bogota.

The highway again goes overtop the mountain range and we get to an altitude of 6000'. The trucks of course are impatient as are buses and are always passing just before a corner!! Surprised we haven't seen an accident yet! But we're use to seeing that in Honduras so drivers here don't really surprise us! LOL!!! The views are spectacular! The highway just continues to zigzag along the mountain.

We get to Chicamocha National Park and pay the $3 for parking and thought we could walk up to the top of the park area, but have to pay $20 just to walk thru the park. And to ride the gondola its another $20. At the time we were there the gondola wasnt working but it did start up just as we were leaving. It only goes down to the river.  Since we are already as high as we can get at 6000'!

Starting our climb up to Chicamocha National Park 
The road we are travelling 

Chicamocha Canyon - is 200km long

Inside the park there are rides for kids but nothing really for us to paid $20C for 

Great area for parasailing 

Looking down towards the river where the Gondola goes. It was not working when we first got there. You can just see a couple of the cars midway down (really really tiny :)

We stop at a nice hotel/campground just outside of San Gil with a swimming pool. When we drove thru San Gil it was very busy and I just wasnt feeling up to walking around the centre of town. We parked around 2pm and I pretty well slept for the rest of the day. Didn't even get to use the nice pool by our site :(

Our spot for 30,000COP which includes power and use of the pool 

Today feeling a little better so guess I dont have dengue fever!! I had all the symptoms other then a rash. So back on the road and see where it takes us today 😎

Yup think I am use to the altitude - finally!!

Monday Oct 21 Woke up this morning at 6 and felt great! No headache, stomach is ok so guess I'm finally use to this altitude :)  So I ...