Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Colombia to Panama... Florida to Home, and then Arizona...


I write this now sitting in a hotel in Milwaukee, WI.  The last 9 weeks has been crazy busy with work, and I am ready to go home for a bit.  I have a few hours of some free time so I thought I would write an update on the last few months.  Last time I was en route to the North of Colombia to hit up the Ciudad Perdida "Lost City Trek"
What was supposed to be a 10 hour bus ride to Santa Marta turned into a 16-17 hour nightmare bus ride.  Of course when we arrive to hostel all we (my buddy Ryan) wanted to do was sleep.  A few pick up games of football (soccer) were a must (especially being in the birthplace of my childhood hero Carlos Valderama) That was some good fun playing in my bare feet on concrete. The next day we went to Tayrona national Park and had a beach day.  It was nice but may over hyped.  We eventually met up with our two great friends from Norway the next day and started the trek to "the lost City"  and of course the 6 crazy Australians we met a few days earlier were in our group, so I knew this was going to be a lot of fun.  The trek was quite nice, but I found it to be simple and could have easily done it in 3 days versus the 5 day deal, but spending that extra time with such a great group was fantastic.  The highlight of the trip was arriving to the lost city and seeing the ruins.  But after being to Machu Picchu it was not as impressive.  It was nice, but it does not hold a flame to MP.  The next best thing on the trek was seeing my new buddy fall into the river with his last set of dry clothes...  Classic...  Thanks Sam...
After the trek we went our separate ways.  I stayed back for one more beach day with the Norwegians before I flew back to Bogota. Back in Bogota I met up with Ryan and we stayed with our new Best friend Mauricio (The great guy who picked us up in Cocuy)  We stayed at his house and had some great relaxing times hanging with his family and friends, which were all amazing people.  Ryan was nursing his highly infected foot, so he was not very mobile....ha... After Ryan left (I think it was because he had to work, sucker)  Mauricio headed to the Salt Cathedral north of Bogota.  It was cool.  A big church built in an old salt mine.  On the way back we stopped at an amazing meat restaurant called "El Tambor".  Basically you pay by the kilo and order as much meat as you can...  Fantastic....  We capped off the day with a trip to the Gold Museum which was very interesting.
From Bogota I took a bus to Salento to visit Cocora National Park... (Wax Palms which are up to 60 meters high)  I stayed at a nice farm house in Salento and took a couple day trips through the park.  Amazing is not enough to say about the natural beauty of these trees.  The pictures do it no justice you have to see it in person for the perspective.  After Salento made a half way stop on the way to Medellin at the city of Manizales.  I loved this city, because it was built on a ridge line.  How the city is set up the main street is on the ridge with side streets going down both sides of the ridge.  These streets are extremely steep.   New Town and Old Town is located on the main drag opposite each other.  I stayed in this city for a couple days and visited Nevado Del Ruiz area and did some hiking around the Volcano...
Medellin was my next stop.  Amazing city, very Modern and heaps to do...  I went to a local Football match, which was a blast.  Caught a bull fight.  I am glad I did it, but I never need to do it again.  I also got to meet Pablo Escobars Brother and learn of the history of the drug cartel.  Medellin is also were the famed artist Botero is from.  Walking around the plaza you get to gaze among some of his works.  All amazing.
Cartagena was my next stop before sailing to Panama.  Cartagena is an amazing city.  The highlight is wandering the streets of the walled old town of Cartagena.  If you have not been here, I highly recommend it.  Every corner is another beautiful view of some bright colored house or an amazing plaza.  I met up one more time with the ladies from Norway and we hit up Playa Blanco, which was a picturesque white sand beach....
After three days in town, I hopped on a sailboat with 4 Swiss and 1 Colombian and headed to the Islands of San Blas.  It took about 40 hours to hit the first Island.  It was a bit rough crossing, but it was worth it.  Every Island there was unique.  Some were a no more than a kilometer in circumference and littered with Palm trees, and others were the size of a car with a solo palm tree just begging you to lay under.  We spent 4 days hanging out on a variety of different Islands meeting the local Kunas and buying Coconuts and Fish from them.  The Meals were amazing.  After making landfall in Panama City I hung out for about 24 hours before my flight back to the States...


I flew back to Miami were I met up with my good friend and co-worker and checked out the everglades.  I later met my Parents and Sister and her kids up in Tampa, to begin the Road Trip home.  I did a lot of Disc Golf in the Tampa Area as my family did the amusement park.  After my sister flew home my parents and I headed to Savannah, Georgia.  This was my first time here, and let me tell you I was blown away at how beautiful it it, with all the Plazas and Squares and all the Live Oaks everywhere.  We spend a few days here soaking up the views and eating ourselves silly.  Of course I played a lot of Disc Golf....  After Savannah we hit the road to Charleston, South Carolina.  From here we did a Plantation tour (which was a blast)  Hit up the farmers market, and also walked around the historic downtown waterfront.  From here we headed north to Washington D.C. of course stopping halfway to play a round of disc golf in Richmond.  We left early from Richmond and hit up Mt. Vernon (home of George Washington)  are first president if you did not already know that.  A lot of history to soak up here.  Spent the better part of the day there learning about the history of one of our country's greatest leader.  Headed into DC and hit up the Air and Space Museum on the outskirts of town.  It was a massive Hanger with heaps of planes including my favorite SR-71 Blackbird.  I loved this place and so did my dad.  We had a blast walking around checking out all the aviation machines...  In three more days we hit up 3 more Smithsonian museums, Ford Theater, Lincoln Museum, Pentagon, Arlington Cemetery, and Hooters....


After DC, we made the road trip home.  By the way, did I mention I drove the whole way....  Yeah putting on the miles with my Parents.  It was a blast and I would do it again in a heartbeat...
Well I got home and I was expected to go to work right away, but I had one more journey in me.  So Amanda and I headed to Arizona for some warm weather, the Grand Canyon, and of course to see my good old buddy Ryan.  Arizona rocked, did a bunch of hiking, caught a concert, Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, Hit up Antelope Slot Canyon (a must) and of course played a lot of Disc Golf....  After a week in Arizona, I caught a red-eye from Phoenix to Minneapolis.
I got in at 545 am on a Monday and got a ride to a Semi, where I drove 6 hours to Milwaukee to work, and this is where I have been ever since, except I head home on the weekends.  But now I am all done here, and getting excited for this summer.  I have heaps of Music Festivals to look forward to and also a nice trip to Iceland with some of my close friends in August.  Until then....  Safe travels to everyone...

Here are some links to photos
Colombia and Panama
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150537581457019.379583.648237018&type=3&l=72593fdebd
 http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150471456532019.371072.648237018&type=3&l=294f8d1b5a
 http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150491778537019.373823.648237018&type=3&l=26e19d6892
East Coast
 http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150554204017019.381228.648237018&type=3&l=04fe6eb2da
Arizona
 http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150599191137019.387774.648237018&type=3&l=db081132b5


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