Tag Archives: Travel

Colombian Hospitality

..and curiosity. It’s huge! Granted, we are three sweaty gringos pulling into tiny towns on heavily loaded bikes asking were there is a good place to camp.

Of course they want to ask about our trip. A few of them try to practice their English. And MANY of them want pictures with us. Specifically, the girls want a pictures with the tall, white, blonde guy.

I once had 2 young girls at a stop recently ask to take pictures with me- the mom invited me into their house to do a little photo shoot. Made me feel special.

But so far the greatest moment was for all of us combined. A group of kids on the side of the road were yelling at me and while usually I wouldn’t stop, something made me think they wanted something innocent.

This 16 year old girl started speaking to me in very broken English; she asked were I was from, what my name was and then to write it down. She had her English notebook for school so I wrote “I am Caitlin” for her to see.

She then asked if I liked coffee, to which I enthusiastically replied “yes”. I was quickly invited in for a drink and was being introduced to her grandmother, uncle, and many siblings who had all been crowding around me this whole time. Sam and Casey rode up then and were invited in as well. We sat and drank our coffee and explained our travels while she explained about learning English in school.

And then many group photos were taken. It was a special moment, the whole family was intrigued and welcoming. It was one of those times were we just looked at each other like, is this really happening right now? This family invited random people off the road to just come hang out. It lasted all of 15 minutes, but it was a beautiful moment. I will never forget the light In this girls’ eyes as she spoke to us in English and hosted us in her home.

Colombian Bike Tour Necessities

As we reach 1 month of bike touring, I’ve compiled a list of the things we pretty much always need. Some things were obvious from the start and others we learned along the way. I hope it gives you a little insight as to what we live everyday. In no particular order…

1) Working headphones: because how else do you survive biking into strong headwinds, deserts, marshy peninsulas, and up hills/mountains with out good tunes?

2) Empanadas: because flaky pastry crust filled with meat and veggies are the best fuel for the day

3) Cocacola: because it comes in a glass bottle with a really long straw and is made with real sugar. And it’s ice cold

4) Aguila: because a cheap cold beer is the best way to reward yourself after that ride

5) Festival cookies/ice cream: I don’t know how to explain this one. They are just mind blowing

6) Bike clothes vs Non bike clothes: because you bike in one outfit and wear your other outfit when you’re clean. Or at least slightly less sweaty. Maybe…

7) Baby powder: to help stay dry

8) Hard candies: to help you get up the really big hills

9) Tortillas: and anything we have available to put in them. Peanut butter, jelly, cheese, avocado, lentils with potatoes and little hotdogs and any combination of the above mentioned items

10) Water from a bag: because that’s how fresh water comes down here and you have to rip it open with your teeth and try not to look like an idiot spraying water everywhere, but it’s cold and refreshing so just go with it

11) Dance Parties: at the campfire. On the side of the road. In our hotel room. Basically anywhere will do

The Tales of Siempre Perdido Part 2

The morning of day 4 Team Siempre Perdido rose early full of determination to ride their biggest day so far. Despite Steves gps leading them on a small and unnecessary scenic tour of Barranquilla and after only slight frustrations the team crossed the bridge out of town.

And then Nürph got a flat tire…

…Which ended up being a great stop at a gas station with AC, a super friendly security guard, and cheese sticks.

The ride really kicked in then, with a slight head wind and unshaded marshlands as far as the eye could see. The Team teamed up and rode single file to help break the wind, but it was still a grueling, long day.

With only about 6 miles to go, they stopped and had the best papas (potatoes) con carne ever and as usual, a Coca-Cola.

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Arriving in cienaga the team found a place to sleep. beers were bought and a magical sunset on the beach finished out the day.

Day 5 of bike terrr began in search of breakfast- and an iguana fight to near death in the middle of the town square. Typical Colombia, amiright?

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The ride to Santa Marta was uneventful. The hostel search ended with the discovery of the Mango Tree. Beautiful, clean, quiet and basically the best hostel ever. At this point, all three team members had come down with a cold so a few days a rest were well received by all. Yummy street food was eaten, lots of naps were taken, and beautiful sunsets were watched.

**the tales of Siempre Perdido, shall henceforth be told in a more normal format. Tips of Bike Terrr, what it’s like biking Colombia, and more coming soon!

My Worst Travel Fear Come True

I was stopped at a border.

The US border.

I’m not sure why this is such a major fear of mine.  I am and American citizen. For some reason I have this fear that they will not only not let me back in, but that they will put me in jail, too. As an avid traveler, I would think I would be happy if they didn’t let me back it. Free pass to keep traveling, right? Cool.

But it finally happened. On my landing card I put that I had not brought anything with me back into the country. Which was a LIE.

At the gate the guard asked for my ID and from where I had just arrived. Then he asked if I had any food in my bag.

I could have just said no and no one would have known. It wouldn’t have mattered. But I panicked. I imagined him searching my bag and sending me to jail. So I said “Yes. I have 2 apples”.
It was the truth after all. Straight from the Lidl.

What followed was the bumbling conversation of me trying to explain why I lied and hadn’t put those two apples on my card. I probably made some awkward joke about always needing snacks when I travel and totally forgetting but I think I blacked out for a minute and umm can this be over now??!

I had to go through this special area to document my forbidden apples. They re-scanned all my bags. They joked about how I had so much stuff (which was true) and I joked about wanting to eat my apples for lunch. It was a no-go.

I finally made it out and I was officially back in America. Phew.

Peanut Butter Lovers and Sneakers

There may be some things I’ve missed about America. Aside from some people, and maybe a few family dogs. This is my ‘reverse culture shock’

 

-Drinks with ice. like juice and soda

-Being able to have casual conversations with random people

-Understanding what the people around me are saying. I keep getting excited that they are speaking English and then I’m like, oh yeah, right..

-Cold beer sections at grocery stores that include more than like, 1 beer

-My collection of mugs. Greg and Patricia in particular

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tea and crumpets with Greg

-Being able to read labels. Sometimes I triple check before a product goes on my face

-This one is SF Bay Area specific- I missed the fact that people actually LINE UP to get onto public transportation. It’s not always perfect, but the idea is nice

-American style breakfast. No one does pancakes and bacon better than ‘Murica

 

How to Live in a Beach Town, Part 2

Whether you are there short term or long-term, to live or to vacay, please, PLEASE avoid these things:

1. No posting pictures of any of these things:

a- your feet in the sand
b- your hot-dog legs on the beach
c- a picture of yourself taken while lying down so no one can see your face
d- sunsets
e- your fruity drink with a sunset in the background. or just, at all

Why, you ask?

a- feet are gross. sand is sand. done and done.
b- stupid
c- stupid and narcissistic
d- **unless you can light it properly
e- a mojito is a mojito everywhere. it only looks worse with a horribly lit sunset in the back

To put it simply- no one cares.

2. Don’t wear the same sandals everyday. Tan lines, hellooooo

3. DON’T stand in the middle of the sidewalk. Ever. As a tourist and as a human on planet Earth. Move. To. The.  Side.

4. Don’t forget to eat ice-cream at least once a day

5. Don’t judge me for eating so much ice-cream. It’s summer and I’m on holiday.  Seriously.

Now check out the things you SHOULD do🙂

How to Live in a Beach Town, Part 1

1. Find an easy job. Few hours, or at least with very flexible hours. Make sure you have a good boss. Good location (ie as close to the beach as possible). The goal is to be able to enjoy as much time as possible doing beach town-y things. Hostels are nice.

2. Or don’t. Who needs a job anyways?

3. Buy appropriate clothes. Baggy, light, comfy clothing with variations from ‘bum’ to ‘bohemian’. It’s best to look as though you never had and never will have a ‘real job’.

4. Be vague about your life before this life and what will come afterwards. This helps to create your image of being a long time beach bum.

5. Get tan. If my Casper-white skin can get tan, yours can too.

6. Don’t be afraid to be your true, weird self. This is the perfect opportunity. All of your friends will probably be short term back-packers, so why not? Speak your mind, discuss your nerdy/guilty pleasures**, just let it all out.

7. Eat ice-cream. And lots of it. Just because I said so.

8. Lastly, and most importantly. Slow. Down. Appreciate where you are and how you got there. Your only agenda now is to enjoy the life your leading, so do it. Days spent doing nothing can truly be experienced since all you have to do any given day is, nothing. Drink a beer, read a book, TAKE A NAP and don’t feel guilty about how you spend your time.

**I’ve made a few friends recently by discussing Disney/Musicals which every time results in  sing-a-long sessions and the Song of Ice and Fire book series (Game of Thrones TV show for those that don’t know). I did yoga in the hostel common room. And I am constantly freaking out to guests over the book The Count of Monte Cristo at random times, and probably against their will, because I just think it’s so good.