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Archive for June, 2009

Go home guinea pig

by Alex on Jun.28, 2009, under Blog

Right, I’ve no idea of the name of this ‘game’ in Spanish so we’ll just call it as above.

It’s pretty entertaining to watch though, probably more so than watching morris dancing is for visitors to the UK – thankfully it’s highly unlikely that your average tourist would randomly happen across our stick hitting with bells whilst dressed as an elf traditional ‘dance’.

So, we’re wandering through the old district of Bogota, taking in the majestic buildings and marveling at the number of different agencies that have an armed presence in the streets (I’m sure I counted at least 7), when we spot what look like a load of up-turned dog bowls arranged in a line. And a guy with a radio headset and loudspeaker chatting about… something.

On drawing nearer it became obvious – ah, of course, they’re playing go home guinea pig!

‘Pray tell, what is this oh so new and interesting game?’ I hear you all ask. Well, it goes like this:

The guinea pig tamer slash ringmaster says lots of stuff in Spanish whilst the little guinea pigs hang about sniffing and waiting for the off. The punters, clearly stirred by the majesty of the fine beasts and quivering with the anticipation of winning a small fortune, boldly step up to the dog bowls placing their bets (typically 200 pesos, about 8 US cents) atop the bowl of their choice. The dog bowls are all numbered and have little guinea pig-sized holes in the side and when enough money has been committed, the action begins.

The guy then chooses a worthy steed who on cue runs towards the dog bowls, sniffs around a bit popping it’s nose into a few bowls as if to tease the onlookers and eventually settling on it’s new home, going in and presumably going to sleep. Anyone lucky enough to bet on the correct upside down dog bowl leaps with glee as they collect their 800 pesos (24 cent) winnings – brilliant.

Check out the pics below:

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A whole lot of nothing

by Alex on Jun.24, 2009, under Blog

Is kinda what I’ve been doing of late, whilst all around me have been involving themselves in activities such as rafting, swimming in waterfalls, horse (back, for the Americans) riding, paragliding, SCUBA diving and sitting on beaches.

It seems to me that whilst traveling, so many people busy themselves almost 24 hours a day without much time relaxing, reading, exercising, even just taking time out to contemplate.

I’ve been quite happy doing little since we left Bogota. Well, I say little but I’ve actually been spending lots of time on my computer…

A mate of mine that I’m traveling with is doing so with a mankini, having been challenged by mates at home to get picture of him wearing it in every country he goes to. If you’re not sure what a mankini is then you’ve not seen Borat (the film) and you’re missing out on a treat! Below is a picture so that you know what I’m referring to:

bolivia7

We thought that we’d open this challenge to the world and so I’ve been working on the International Mankini Challenge website for the last little while. The idea being to get people to send in pictures of them in mankinis from all over the world with the aim of eventually getting one from every country.

It’s taken a while to build as there was some issue with running WordPress (the blogging software I use) with 1&1′s servers (the hosting provider that we’re using). But after a lot of rebuilding and arseing about (including lots of invective) and the eventual adding of one teeensy little one-line file, she is now up and running complete with a map of countries mankinied so far, list of those to do, link to buy your own mankini and of course, picture gallery. I’ve spent 1/2 of today trying to add a plugin that would allow people to send mankini e-greetings cards from the site, but it didn’t work – oh well.

So, get involved at InternationalMankiniChallenge.com, join in the challenge, send the link on to friends, spread the mankini love…

Sexy time!

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Parapente Medellin

by Alex on Jun.09, 2009, under Blog

I’d never been paragliding before. Such a tranquil experience with beautiful views over Medellin and surrounding countryside. I’d definitely advise to give it a go if you ever get the chance.

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Around Salento

by Alex on Jun.04, 2009, under Blog

Just got another mild electric shock and was told ‘yes, you have no shoes on, when the electric rings are on the work surface goes live as it’s metal. It’s normal.’.

Anyway, Salento is a pretty mountain town with some not that obvious lovely little restaurants and cafes. Only on the last evening there did I notice all the little gifty and arty shops, I suppose it must attract a lot of Colombian tourists. One of the things that they’d probably not pay that must attention to is an old Y reg fire engine sporting Devon Fire and Rescue Service decals. Donated 12 years ago she was a little tired yet still going strong. It’s warming to know that something dismissed by ‘us’ so many years ago could still be helping to save lives in some far off place.

The landscape around Salento is stunning. So green with hills arolling, deep culverts, pretty rivers meandering down boulder-strewn valley floors, crazily tall palm trees, bamboo forests worthy of reenacting scenes from House of the Flying Daggers and more that I’ve already forgotten. It’s similar to the countryside that you find in so many temperate zones but there is a subtle perfection about it that I can’t put my finger on, maybe the pictures can relate what I’m on about.

I’m not sure if it’s a Colombian thing but in Salento there are loads of old Willys Jeeps, well renovated and used as taxis – many of the roads here are unpaved. We took one for half a hour and walked up a valley that looked reasonably standard issue save the incongruous wax palms, tall and thin looking totally out of place. We stopped at a hut type establishment and watched the humming birds hum before snacking on what was apparently normal in the locale – hot chocolate and salty cheese. The cheese was pretty much too salty to eat with the explanation that this was so the cheese would not rot in the absence of any kind of fridge-based storage. We didn’t try the local approach which apparently was to crumble the cheese into the hot chocolate.

The following day we hired mountain bikes for what was to be quite a shambolic outing. Again the scenery was stunning, quite to marvel at but the hand drawn map we were given was gaylord and most of the time we weren’t entirely sure where we were. Sometimes an inch on the map took 10 minutes and other times 40, resulting in you being convinced that you’d gone the wrong way and would have to turn around and go back three miles uphill. The last 4 km was steep and up and some being tired and one of the bikes being really shite we decided that we’d get a lift home. That took about an hour and a half to sort out. Some helpful bloke called one of the Willys Jeep guys to organise a pick up and on returning he tells us that one of us would have to go up to the town to negotiate cost. Typical hopeless approach to business – the guy didn’t think to say ‘tell them I’ll do it for 20 grand (pesos, about 6 quid), call me back if that’s OK’, he simply says no and probably never wonders why he’s poor.

It was fun though, especially the downhill – all our hands took a proper pounding resulting in extensive palmic bruising. A fair few innocent yet dodgy sounding comments have been made today referring to bruised palms, I’m sure the rest of the hostel wonders what the five of us have been up to…

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