My Lucky Boots

Boots Owner's Stories

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Posted by Artesia Irawan on May 7, 2011 at 6:46 AM

Guajira, one less traveled point. A place where you see nothing but deserted, barren place together with the Waayu people represent the toughness of this place, the warriors who fight the Spanish off their territory. One place in Colombia which never been occupied by the Spanish. You can tell from the people in Cabo de La Vela, they can bit feisty than the rest of Colombianos.

The journey up there could consider as a mission, though it's a possible mission. There's no easy way to get to Guajira, unless if you sign up an expensive tour. We had to change transport three times before we reach Cabo de La Vela. We started from Valledupar but it's almost the same trip from the coast.

Santa Marta - Rioacha : 4 hours ( 20.000 pesos )
Rioacha - Uribia : 1 hour ( nice, air conditioned collectivo/shared car 12000 pesos, my favorite transport haha )
Uribia - Cabo : 2-3 hours ( truck, 14.000 pesos )

Note : You have to start early morning, since there's hardly any truck from Uribia to Cabo in the afternoon. Franzisca had to wait for 4 hours until the next truck leaves Uribia to Cabo.

Arriving in Cabo, you're advised to shop around before you choose where you stay. All the places are pretty much the same, hammock, private room or dorm. The price for hammock is about 10.000 pesos. except one high end hostel ( still only cost you about  25.000 pesos with beds ). But we managed to find a room with two beds, bathroom inside ( think the most basic way of room you can possibly think ) for only 15.000 pesos, so we paid about 4 dollar each and we made a lot of people jealous of our deal.

Cabo de La Vela, where there's no electricity of course that means no TV, Radio, no lights, only generator for 2 hours a day. We even had to ration ourself with the water to shower. The one place you could soak in the nature completely with your senses. At night you could witness the amazing stars in the sky or open the window you could see the sunset or sunrise over the horizon of the sea.

The highlight of this place is the beaches around Cabo de La Vella, in the morning could be crowded with people from tour. But they only stay for an hour or so, so we had the whole beach by ourself in the afternoon. The nearest beach is of course 5 seconds away right in front of your hostel but there's another beach about one hour walk from Cabo. On the way back, you might as well wait until sunset, since there will be car/jeep tour coming only for sunset so you can ask them to have a ride back to Cabo.

Cabo de La Vela
Cabo de La Vela

The highlight of this trip is Punta Galinas, a bit expensive with the boat coast. But that's what I call adventure ( hardly ever say this word on my trip ) starting from the difficulties we get from getting information how to get there ( cheaply ) after talking to some random people we found the best deal to get to Punta Galinas. 130.000 pesos including the transport/truck for three days. Truck from the cabo, boat to Punta Galinas, truck while we're in Punta Galinas for sight seeing.

Punta Galinas is the northernmost point of all South America where the desert meet the caribbean sea, another 3 hours on a boat to Punta Galinas, and was agreeable by everyone on that boat as the most fucked up ride ever in our life. The headwind created a monster wave that splash us ( me and Franzisca in particular who sit at the back of the boat ) inside out, left and right, up and down. Kim managed to sleep on top of the bags and she was too upset to be upset. There are moments I thought we're going to capsized but thought it was just a close call. And another moment I thought wtf am I doing this? ( heard that many times Artesia, just shut up! You wanted this )

The accommodation is a family house and they cook the best food I had in Colombia, fish, lobster was just like a feast everyday. All the hammocks are in the open so can be a bit cold at night with the wind. The next day we went to the dune and Taroa beach, we traveled with this one truck with broken radiator. So we had to carry extra water and had to stop every 10-15 minutes to keep the radiator works. The next morning before me and Franzisca catch our boat, the truck broke down completely coming from watching the sunrise at Punta Galinas. So we decided to walk back to the hostel, since we really want to go back to Santa Marta the same day.
Desert meet Caribbean Sea
Punta Galinas

It's definitely a highlight, really wish I have more time, but I had to go back to Santa Marta to see my friend who's visiting me from Dubai. My advice is to be patient with all the transport problem. My friend Kimberley took a jeep back to Uribia and in total she spent 12 hours on the road from Punta Galinas to Santa Marta. 

If you don't have patient or don't have time to be patient, then you should join a tour and enjoy the ride to the one of the most stunning landscape in South America.

Punta Galinas Punta Galinas

More Photos of La Guajira










Posted by Artesia Irawan on February 6, 2011 at 7:40 AM

At first definitely was not in my itinerary, never heard of the place before until Adam the American dude I met in San Gil proposed this place before we're heading to Guajira.

Same old story, you meet people and the next thing you knew you threw your old plans out of the window. Although looking at the map, going up to Guajira via Valledupar is more make sense, so you don't have to do a backtrack trip from the coast. But the downside is ( big downside ) we had to carry our big backpack while we're in Guajira. That part doesn't make sense, since Guajira is desert and beach. I only used 2 tiny shirt, bikini, sarong and short while we're there during a week trip hence my backpack was a big annoying burden.

It took us 12 hours to get to Valledupar from San Gil. We took night buses as usual and had our sleep in the bus. Since this town is not a common tourist destination. There's limited recommended hostel. We stayed at Providencia hostel together with pretty much everybody who travel through Valleydupar.

I didn't expect much about this place, but on the first day at the hostel we met another american couple who's going to take some picture of the cockfighting in the neighborhood ( serious picture with his serious camera. My big camera looked like a tiny disposable camera compare to his ) Adam was beyond excited as he always wanted to see it. So we spent the whole afternoon checking the cockfighting arena, which actually it was just on the side street under a huge tree. The rest of the people were hanging around on the street on sunday afternoon, or some people who owns the rooster is preparing them at 'backstage'. I'm not a big fan of cockfighting so I only just hanging out with the people around taking photos with occasionally some cheers and roar from the cockfighting arena betting on the roosters.

Valledupar is the birthplace of Valenato music, Daniel the american dude had a tatoo of acordion and the main reason he came to Valledupar to make documentary about this valenato music. The same evening we went to some music celebration, they called it pre carnival. So basically they're partying a month before the real carnival. Sure they know how to party. So we just hang around and using the occasion as an excuse to drink and eat some street food.

The top highlight of Valledupar is swimming at the river. Located southeast of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, many rivers descends from it peaks through Valledupar. Honestly I'm not a big fan of swimming in the river, since our river back home is kind of brownish color for many reason. At first we went to the Guatapari river during weekend, and man oh man the amount of people swimming in the river is a new sight for me. Other places people go to the beach but Valledupar doesn't have beach, they only have rivers. And the water is so fresh and clean. The so not big fan of river went swimming at the river every single day while she's there! Quiet streets, trees all over the town was so green and perfect for us to cycling to the river.

One more place we visit is La Mina, a natural swimming pool. About an hour away from the city by shared jeep. Amazing huge rocks created a hole with crazy beautiful water to swim. But the catch is there's no transport back to Valledupar, so we had to hitchhike. During my travel in South America I had some luck when it comes to hitchhiking, being optimist I told the group that I have the luck. And hey what do you know, within minutes after we reached the road from the river. There's a truck enough to accommodate all of us at the back all the way to Valledupar.

One last highlight I have to mentioned and have been mentioned before on my previous post is 'Frutas con Helados' which simply fruits with ice cream. Yes it was our dinner two nights in a row, could be three nights or four nights if we found out about it earlier.

We had an unexpected treat from Valledupar, a green city with rivers, the people are amazingly friendly, other tourists are almost nonexistence, shouldn't be missed.

More Photos of Valledupar




Cihuy Cocuy

Posted by Artesia Irawan on February 2, 2011 at 4:15 PM

Very first day in Popayan ( my second day in Colombia ) I opened a coffee table book at the hostel. And my eyes laid on one amazing photo and I pointed that one out and told my self I want to go there. I wrote down the name of the place and also other places based on the amazing photos in that coffee table book.

Laguna de La Plaza

Laguna de la Plaza

Cocuy Trek

I started to seek some information on that same hour only to hear disappointed story from Michael, German dude I met in Popayan. The road was closed and it's expensive and not that many people go there. It sounded almost impossible to get there. At the same time the rain and landslides all over the country that time put me off and worry me if I ever gonna make it to that place.

After a month of 'waiting' in Ecuador for better weather in Colombia, I went back exactly after one month and things were looking good. I met Nicole, a sweet girl from Switzerland in Salento who went to Cocuy two weeks earlier , she told me all about it and things were a bit clearer and I knew what to expect. So after being a lazy dog in Villa de Leyva I took the colectivo to Tunja and then took a night bus to Cocuy. This would be 1 out of three less visited place by tourist in Colombia. But I could understand the reason why, 8 hours to get to Cocuy and almost all the way on the bad road can be a bit rough for some people. With smaller bus I could feel all the stone on the street and my ass felt like a flat tyre by the time I arrived in Cocuy.

Got to Cocuy, got my room, got my sleep. But still things are a bit vague, there's no tour company or tourist information and the company I checked online quote me 1.000.000 pesos for 6 days of trekking, which is about 500 U$ dollar. I wanted to go but wasn't sure if I want to spend that much money.  But my luck came around again, I found this dude who used to live in America, been climbing all his life and now working in the Parque National office. He took me all around looking for guide from one house to another. Until his friend told him that his uncle is a guide. Within 15 minutes we had agreement to do the 6 days trek the next morning with the almost half price than the tour company price.

Cut the story short, in overall it's a pleasant walk but one or two days we walked like a nomad with no sense at all. When you're walking over hills too many times, you started to think what's the use? It's like walking on the playground with no certain destination, that pisses me off. Although I could understand since the terrain make it impossible to have a decent trail.There's nothing you can do but follow the damn trail

Laguna de La Plaza

Laguna de La Plaza

We supposed to stay overnight at the cabanas on the first day after one hour walk, but that day we skipped cabanas and decided to keep walking for another two hours instead to a campsite near the pass to go to the Laguna Grande de los Verdes. Which gave us the whole day in Laguna Grande the next day, absolutely amazing, but that night was one of the coldest night I've experienced maybe in my life ( after Tibet during Christmas ) I didn't sleep in the first two days, it was too cold it's not funny! Woke up at night to pee only just to witness ice on the whole ground and simply made me even more stress with the cold. I woke up every half hour due to the cold.

( Advice from me : Listen to people's advice! Because Nicole told me to rent a sleeping bag cause mine was just a mediocre sad sleeping bag. And I didn't follow her advice  )

But the next two days we camped under the huge rock and that was two warmest nights and finally I could get my sleep that night. Some camp site were not available during that time since there's no water due to lack of rain ( not that I'm complaining ) so the 4th day we walked extra 2 hours after  6 hours of walking to find a camp site with water source. And camped just 2 hours away from the pass going to Laguna de la Plaza, so again I had the whole day to enjoy the Laguna the next day. This trek is just another trek worth the journey, the hassle and the time. It's not hard and doable for everybody, camped at 4000-4200M I think it's not too high and bareable ( especially for insane people who find trekking is a pleasure ) Just bring good sleeping bag ( comfortable -10 should be fine )

Mind you, two weeks earlier there's group walked with my guide and for three days there was heavy rainn.. They saw nothing but fog and cloud, with the cold and wet clothes for good three days ( a nightmare I always worry during trekking ) 


The video I made during the trek

More Photos of Cocuy

How to get there

Bus from Tunja-Cocuy ( 8 hours to go there, and 10 hours back )There's bus at 7PM. 9.30PM and 11PM, with Fundadores 35.000 pesos from Tunja.
Bogota - Tunja ( 4 hours )
Villa de Leyva - Tunja( 45 minutes )

If I were you I would do this trek first and then relax in Villa de Leyva.

The one and only website about trekking in Cocuy



Food Story

Posted by Artesia Irawan on February 1, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Warning about this post : Importance = very low! 

Right, this post would be just nice and short. Something to do with my appetite, my original appetite or should I say my compulsive overeating. My mum knew about my appetite, sometimes she's concern about my appetite whenever I go back home, while she would eat one catfish, my brother two and I could eat three of those. But I always have an excuse for being away for so long from home and I deserve all the nice food back home. But when I was living in Dubai, it's not that much different, I can't buy my monthly/weekly groceries cause otherwise I'll eat them in few days time. Or one time I woke up at 2AM and cook some food to eat and then go back to sleep ( I'm still convinced that I was 'sleep cooking' )

Although my appetite during my travel kind of comes and go and sometimes I lost it for good 2 weeks for no reason. Or back to scary monster appetite again, just like when I was in Guajira when I eat this 'sad' bread like every half hour.  

3 months in Peru, I was happy with all the food. Although I'm not that adventurous and skipped 'cuy'  ( guinea pig ) for many reasons, but I cooked myself lomo saltado every now and then or Indonesian fried rice when I was staying in Arequipa at the hostel. And countless portions of chevice never fail to give me some sort of orgasm for my taste. 2 months in Ecuador with super cheap almuerzo for 2 dollars or sometimes 1.50 always gave me big smile afterwards and after boring bread in Peru, finally I found nice sweet bread in Ecuador. I think I have the same taste in sweet bread/pastries in Ecuador. And always reminded me of the chocolate roll in Mindo, soft and warm with cup of coffee in the morning, invented one of my best morning.

But going into Colombia, I have problem looking for something I really like. I found out I hate arepas and only just realized that after one month later, I tried first time in Popayan, I love the stuff on top of it ( cheese, meat, chicken all sort of stuff ) but when when my fork scoffed the arepas that's just ruin the 'treat' I was having. And not too mention the bread here just dull, super dull.

So the reason I write this post, I just want to share one of my happiest day when I came across to this one nice coffee shop in Villa de Leyva. I was craving for sweet bread ( will never give up on that ) and ask the lady at the hostel if there's any panaderia and she told me to go to one coffee shop just around the corner from the hostel. Oh my god, my universe, goddess of mountain, god of ocean ( baca : dewa gunung dan dewa laut ... halaahh! ) they have REAL BREAD!! Like real and normal bread, just like bread at the coffee shop at home or other place outside Colombia.  

Chocolate croissant at Pasteleria Francesca in Villa de Leyva

And that very night, I slept with a smile and dreaming of nice breakfast the next morning only to find out the coffee shop is closed on that very morning. I'm not exaggerated if I write I was depressed and felt like I have no will to live my life that day.  I need the bread, damn it!! Ah well, something else cheer me up over there, fresa con crema is my second best thing here in Colombia or pretty much fruits here are amazing!!!

Fresa con crema, Villa de leva

In the market in San Gil, I bought a huge container for 2500 pesos ( that's just over a dollar ) I got mix fruit, with some coconut sprinkle, leche condensada ( sweet condensed milk ), man that's FOOD for me!! I went there every morning ... although Adam prefer to have some disgusting ants for dessert after the fruit!! Freak...

Went a bit north in Valledupar, one of  the most less touristy place I've been in Colombia, me and Adam were looking for place to eat for dinner when we saw one shop selling fruit and ice cream!! We didn't think twice, 'shall we?' .. yeah man!! It was one of my best dinner and of course we went back to the same spot the next evening.  

Frutas con helados

In Cabo de la Vela  we had Salpicon de frutas, mix fruit with watermelon juice, again with leche condensada. All fruit nothing but fruit... give me fruit!

( Ehm Artesia,I thought it supposed to be nice and short? ) Ja, sure ok.. as warned, it's not important and better to finish it now before you throw me some rotten tomatoes or you can throw me some fruits, I'll eat them.  So the summary is... I want food!!!! I want those korean tasty meat in Shogun, Dubai or another 3 catfishes back home ( baca : pecel lele gitu! ) I need some asian food taste or those soft warm bread.... maybe I need to go and eat something now, or should I just order another shandy/radler.

Info about the coffee  shop in Villa de Leyva : Pasteleria Francesca ( It's in Colombia LP book )

Villa de Leyva

Posted by Artesia Irawan on January 28, 2011 at 4:08 PM

I'm spending my last 10 days here in South America by the time I'm writing this post. I'm losing my motivation to write and I feel bad about it, cause Colombia is just such a great country to explore and people shouldn't run out of stories from traveling here. But I couldn't miss Villa de Leyva just like that. My visit here was very short but pleasant.  After more than a week non stop of doing too many things and hanging out with lots of people in Salento and Manizales, my body and mind begged me to 'rest'. My brain keen to have some free times to 'shut down' a little bit. So turned out Villa de Leyva was just perfect for my body needs.

Arriving in Manizales from Nevado del Ruiz I went straight to Bogota by bus for 8 hours and then hanging out at the bus station for 2 hours before my bus journey to Villa de Leyva for 4 hours. I sat at the very front seat next to the driver and appalled by the crazy dangerous Colombianos way of driving. I saw three accidents on my way there. I could see the reason why there are lots of accidents, maybe next time I can politely decline if they ask me to sit at the front.  

Arriving in Villa de Leyva that afternoon looking for hostel was not easy for a loner like me, I had to go around to find a single room for one person. I just couldn't afford staying in 'backpackers' place for that time being. Finally after dragging my bag here and there I found really nice place but don't remember the name.  Villa de Leyva was just stunning, of course the cobbled street is the first attraction, at least for me. And the colonial buildings and a huge square just make this place look so unreal, with the spanish style, balconies and lights during the night. That time I had a thought, this is one of the place that's just almost never exist in my imagination leave alone visiting. I felt like in the middle of nowhere sometimes in my previous life ( if I was a human too ) I love the place, I felt so lazy there. I only just move my butt to put them somewhere else to eat or drink. Most of the time scoffing those yummy fresa con crema. 

Once again this is perhaps the only place you could eat real bread at Francesca Pasteleria ( I have 10 days left in SA, the chance is very thin to find other place ) There a lot of activities you can do here or museum to visit. I did nothing and nothing and another nothing. Just come over see this place yourself.


How to get there : 4 hours by bus from Bogota or 45 minutes from Tunja.

More photos of Villa de Leyva

Colombianos : Story of Salento

Posted by Artesia Irawan on January 26, 2011 at 9:09 PM

Leaving crazy Popayan during fiesta only to be greeted by more crazy Salento. I had Salento in mind as a tiny little village, quiet and place to hang out or get closer to the nature. But it took us an hour more in traffic going up to Salento due to endless party over there.  I sat down the back of the bus in the rain from Armenia sitting next to Padilla's family who represent the friendliness host of Colombia.Daniel who sat next to me took care of my stupid backpack that doesn't have privileged to be in the trunk cause it was raining, so I have to take it with me in the tiny little bus.

After arriving in La Serana hostal,  another hide out ( ehm ) I went back to the crazy party scene to meet up with Padilla family, who insisted that I have to join them and the family. They took me everywhere in town and his huge warm family who also coming from all over the place to visit and take place in the party scene. Daniel's aunties own couple of hostel in town and the amount of question I had to answer not only from the family but from the guests of the hostel I was staying for aqua de panella  in the evening.  

Our hostel, La Serana

La Serana Hostel in the afternoon

La Serana hostel, Salento

La Serana Salento in the morning

At night when my body couldn't synchronize anymore I excused my self to the family that I have to go back to the hostel, the family was too concern to let me walk alone at night back to La Serana ( which is about 20 minutes walk from town )  I told them it's fine and clearly I don't want to hassle them, I could walk alone ( it's only 11PM ) So in the end after lots of 'concerns' and 'hows' I agree to let them walk with me half way. After halfway at the cemetery, there's a local family with three little kids walking to the same direction to the hostel. Daniel was too excited and asked them to walk with me to the hostel. And he told me to call him or text him as soon as I got to the hostel safely, which I did.  

In the first 5 months traveling, I met numbers of people who's been traveling in Colombia and they never fail to mention how friendly the people are in Colombia. Some were too excited and wanted to cry even thinking about Colombia and the people, others were lucky enough to have 'family' or 'mother' in Colombia who took care of them just like her own son/daughter or brother/sister. At that time, I didn't expect anything cause the way people travel are different or their experience.  

Padilla's family are not my first experience of  the people sincerity and kindness here in Colombia.  When I was at hospital in Popayan at 1AM, the 'whole hospital' came to the emergency ( okay, a bit exaggerated there ) but there are way too many people around for one sick person with their 'how are you' English nothing more, they made effort just to express their curiosity or a welcoming gesture in their ( I have to say ) beautiful country. They wondered around next to me while I'm in pain with a drip on me. ( I'm hoping my mum would be too busy reading this blog and others who smart enough are not going to tell her ;)

At the hospital when I told them I didn't have enough cash to pay, one of the nurse said the office only open at 7AM if I want to use my credit card. So I had to stay there in order to pay so I could go back to the hostel. But they came up with one thing, they let me go and trusted me to come back later that day so I can sleep a bit more at the hostel. So bunch of people took me to one tiny room just like a little office with bunch of papers and one computer. I didn't know what they were up to until one of them asked me to read on the screen, the Google translate! They wanted let me know what they want to say, I had to laugh. How sweet of them.. He wrote something in Spanish that translated in English : I trust you... 

From a country with a very recent 'bad reputation' to one of the top travel destination, I must say they really did an amazing job! The tourist information in Manizales were top notch, the people who works at the hostel were consistently friendly and helpful in most places I stayed up to now. But others still living in the past and concern about what the tourists think about their country. They always asked the tourist what do they think about Colombia or what your friends think about their country. I had to be honest that with my ignorance I only just find out about 'new' Colombia during my trip now and thought Colombia was dangerous as in the past. And then the men will agree and discussed among themselves as if they're talking 'see I told you so' 

I only been traveling here just less than a month and still have about a month here in Colombia, I haven't seen shit in this great country and looking forward to experience more friendliness and the unique places of the country. Wish I have more time. 

If you haven't been here and reading this post now, start searching about Colombia and write down on your 'NEXT' list. 

New Years Hike, Quilotoa Loop

Posted by Artesia Irawan on January 7, 2011 at 8:27 PM

Yes I've been to Quilotoa a month earlier, but if you read my blog, it was cloudy, foggy and no camera. So I was really looking forward to do the hike this time with Patrick, hoping for better weather. We took the bus at 9.30 arriving in slightly mellow weather up the crater lake 2 hours later. But after half hour hanging out there, the sun started to greet us. I only asked for 5 minutes sunshine to take my photos, but I got more than that. One of my happiest moment!


We stayed a night in Quilotoa at Chukirawa hostel, right across the lake. Damn cheap, 8 dollars per person, including dinner and breakfast. The room is so nice, clean and bright. Compare to overpriced Cabanas Quilotoa or the hostel next door, I think we got the winner in the area.


The next morning, we walked on the crater about half hour before we start making our way down towards Chugchillan. The walk is pleasant, and will always recommend the area by walking ( if you have time of course ). You can easily walk alone without guide, follow your instinct. It's a huge open valley you can see where you're going. Very hard to get lost I must say. We could see the canyon, Chugchilan from the distance and Guayama village.


The Witch and her Damn Family

We're walking on a fine trail ( supposed to be a correct way to go down to Chugchilan) when one local boy told us not to continue walking on that trail, cause it's not the way to Chugchilan ( lying bastard!! ) He then explained to us, we can't walk alone in the area and insisted we need a guide in order to go to Chugchilan. The only way to go to Chugchilan is 'his' way and will only cost 3 dollar. But we wanted to walk alone and take our time and enjoy it, we didn't want the guide at the first place. Then the boy started to make excuse that there will be a river we can't pass or the walk is dangerous, there will be thieves blah blah blah


Eventually we managed to ignore the boy and walked down but then we met the mother, the troublest makerest among the family. She was more persistent than the boy. We kept walking when she asked me if I want to take picture of her and the family ( with a cost of course ) "No gracias" . When we start walking down she was so 'concern' and screamed at us there's no way down there. But we kept walking and we reached Chugchilan 4 hours later in one piece.


We had a talk with Paula and Marcel in Llulu Llama, Isinlivi. Tourists spoilt the locals, they gave money and made them beggars in their own house. Yes they're poor, but sharing your lunch pack would be more appropriate than giving money. People becoming insincere, desperate or worse, they becoming vicious when they didn't get what they want. Kind of spoilt our morning a bit but we're glad to met them early enough during our trip, because since then whenever we asked for direction or talked to other locals, we met sincere people who helped us with a big smile nothing more than just willing to help, that's kind of making our day everyday for the next 4 days we walked in the area from Quilotoa to Sigchos.


Mama Hilda

It's a luxury hostel, I was there a month ago with good price ( thanks to Mitchel for the bargain ) this time we stayed there 2 nights just to relax and hanging out. We had privileged to met Mama Hilda herself and the whole lovely family, because it was during the NY, I think the whole family came down to help. Absolute treat for us.



The walk from Quilotoa-Chugchilan-Insinlivi-Sigchos are equally beautiful. But I have to say the walk from Chugchilan-Isinlivi is my favourite part. You went down to the valley in between beautiful green canyon and eventually walked on the side of the river bank before you making your way up again all on the slope of the canyon. We visited one house to ask for direction, a house on the cliff with a view to die for. We decided to have our lunch snack over there. The people are so friendly in the area, I felt like putting them in my pocket and carry them with me.



The Meadow

Reminds me of the meadow from the Twilight the Movie


On our last part from Isinlivi-Sigchos we took the steepest down and steepest up during our walk only to teach me something, that there's beauty of finding something great from the unknown and the uncertain. We thought we lost and started to feel hopeless right on the top of the hill, but turned out we're only 3 minutes walk from the main road and just right on time to hitchhike a local truck who kindly enough stopped for us.


It's a memorable way to end my 2010 and start my 2011, special thanks to Patrick who's been my amazing travel partner in the last one month who's now continuing his journey down south to Peru. I'm really looking forward for our next adventures in the future.


More photos of Quilotoa


Ecuador Mad Buses

Posted by Artesia Irawan on January 6, 2011 at 6:14 PM

Not everyone's favorite. But it is one essential way of transport for most of travelers here in South America. Not only that it's cheaper ( most of the times ) but it's more flexible. You can buy the ticket last minute before your departure. Also with the timing, there are night buses that save us the money for accommodation. It's accessible just fine, compare to getting into airport, getting through the pain in the ass usual ritual at the airport.


But yes of course, no need a brainer to tell me that taking a flight is saving a lot of time with extra bit of money. It's your choice really. But somehow I saw some of the most amazing view during my bus journey.


In Peru, I spent 100 hours bus journey, with 21 hours as the longest ( Lima-Cusco ), most of the time I took the Cruz del Sur with cama or semi cama seat ( cama = bed, figure out yourself ) but there's no such a thing once you crossed the border to Ecuador, as most buses in Ecuador are local bus that stopped at every houses if they have to, but that means the fun begins.


Very interesting to observe the locals in the bus, they love sitting at the front of the bus, applied to all age. Regardless even if they traveling together they would sit separated as long as they can sit at the front of the bus. Looks like there's a curse or jinx on the back of the bus that they would avoid it if they could or they could see a ghost standing at the back or something. No se


Another thing is, I couldn't think of any other nation whose people can be more than the Ecuatorianos as an impulse buyer. They buy everything in the bus, almost literally everything. From junk, medicine, make up, food, drinks of course. Therefore the most skilful salesmen might coming from Ecuador or the opposite, cause the people in the bus buys pretty much everything.

Don't expect a nice quiet journey in Ecuador if you're traveling by bus. There will be at least one salesman onboard and screamed on top of his lung and shattered your dream or maybe they will give you nice 'rap' background on your ipod music. Or worse, sometimes they show movie in the bus, but the salesman will be standing in the middle and blocking your view and literally screamed onboard to overcome the sounds of the movie ( which was always loud! )

If you're lucky, you have more than one salesman onboard!


You need toothpaste, toothbrush, soap? He got everything


There's is one guy selling a face cream onboard. First he would go through his booklet and showed it to the passenger in front of the bus just like a school teacher. He showed pictures of any kind of diseases, problems with acne and sort of stuff. And he would demonstrate and put the cream on his face and yapping around in Spanish I don't understand. Before that he gave one small bottle of cream to all passenger to allow them to think if it's worth buying it. Man, that guy is good, lots of people bought his product which could be just a sun block or expired cheap yoghurt for all you know in that bottle.


Or one day on my way to the border to Colombia, we stopped on the street for good 10 minutes. And I counted the people selling stuff inside the bus, there were at least 15 people at one time selling food and drinks. And somehow they managed to figure out how to walk on the aisle without knocking passenger head or bump into the other salesman. It's like a wave of people inside the bus in and out, worked harmoniously.



Don't make a fun of actor you hate and mock them before you travel on the bus, you never know what is waiting for you onboard. We made fun of Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal a lot before our trip to Canoa ( and you know the famous Chuck Norris facts )



And guess what, they played the DVD of Steven Seagal with total at least 4 movies in a row. Beat that! ( I'm so glad we're no in the bus going to the moon, otherwise they probably will play all the Chuck Norris movies too ... hiiii )


But one thing I still couldn't tolerate and deal with in proper manner without killing my insanity is the loud music they play in the bus. On our journey back from Perdenales to Quito, they played the music so loud that I had to use my headset just to redeem the sound and on top of that there's a couple sitting on the other side somehow hates the songs too and they took the matter in their own hand, which playing their own music from their mobile phone with burst speaker cause they play it too loud. And just before you think you're going crazy with two music playing at the same time, one salesman got onboard and with his very deep voice he somehow managed to overcome the sound craziness in the bus by screaming as if he's GOD calling all human during the judgment day. I felt that my skull is cracking and the inside of my head was ready to burst and explode. But of course not, but I thought I think I would be very happy if it happened. And I looked at Patrick next to me, calm and relaxed as nothing happened, typing his travel journal. Sometimes I wonder if he's a real human or not.

El Matal, Jama

Posted by Artesia Irawan on December 27, 2010 at 3:07 PM

Huh what? Jama? Where the hell is that place? We never heard of that place either when we met some locals in Mindo and told us to go to Jama if we want to go to the beach which less touristic. We went to the huge map in Cabanas Bambu and looked for the location of that place and later on looked at the LP guide book still have no clue about the place.


At first we wanted to check out Jama and then Canoa but from the book it looks like there's no road to go straight to Jama ( mislead ) so we aimed Canoa first and Jama. Which turned out just perfect as we hit the noise first and quiet time afterwards. It took us 40 minutes away from Canoa to reach Jama. And we realized Jama is actually a little town with lots of access to many beaches. That day the taxi driver took us to El Matal beach 15 minutes from Jama ( 3 dollar taxi ride ), apparently one of few beaches with accommodations. With no knowledge nor information about the place, we didn't know where the taxi driver supposed to drop us. So we just asked the available hostel in the village, which we only saw 3 of them.


There are only two restaurants apart from our hostel and they served dinner at 6PM only and somehow we successfully managed to miss our dinner on the first two nights since we only just wondered around town at 8.30 for food But on our last night we showed up at 6PM to make sure we eat something proper for dinner instead of beers.


Complete with all the junk you can possibly imagine


The town is a fishing village, lots of colorful fishing boats parked on the beach complete with the hammocks. During the day all the boats were wondering around alone on the sea until in the afternoon hoping for lots of fishes to sell, share or trade. 15 minutes walk up to the north of the beach you'll see a private beach and property separated with the village. The beach is bit cleaner and we only saw three people passed by us during our walk that afternoon.


The food and drinks at our hostel are incredibly cheap. A dollar for one liter of beer, dinner for 2 dollar per person and lunch for 2.50 for two! We expected to pay more before we checked out. Only the room we thought we could get cheaper than 10 dollar. There's another restaurant right on the beach with massive portion of food. The fish is almost as big as the huge plate they served or the prawns were half dangling off the plate. With the tent right on the beach, easily become my favorite place ( well also because it's the only restaurant on the beach)



More photos of El Matal, Jama









Posted by Artesia Irawan on December 27, 2010 at 1:51 PM

Another tourist spot for sand and sea. We arrived here late at night in the rain and mud, since some of the road aren't paved road. The weather didn't change the next day, it rains the whole day and finally just before dark the rain stopped and I managed to have a walk on the beach, without getting wet.


Canoa is located almost north west of Ecuador, where the huge strip of beach attractive enough to call the beach goers during the weekend, mostly the Ecuatorians and the surfers. The main street facing the beach full with restaurants and bars next to each other, easily created a competition who's place played the loudest songs! Oh and also beat this, they played the same songs like 20 times in 2 hours. You're sitting at one place and you could hear two or three different music simultaneously. At night during the weekend, you could hear the music banging into your dreams sometimes.


But on Monday, things back to normal again, when most of the bars closed and you kind of have the place for yourself again. But the same day we're moving to Jama ( another hour by bus from Canoa )


Bambu, Canoa