My Lucky Boots

Boots Owner's Stories

Guajira

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

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valledupar

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.