Sunday, August 25, 2013

From Montezuma Road to Manizales to the Paramo

We left Montezuma Road after a beautiful morning.  We found 2 rails on the grounds.  We drove through the mountains.  In Pueblo Rico all the farmers were in town on Sunday to get their provisions for the week.  They would stuff more people in a car than you have ever seen.  Attached to all surfaces of the car are their purchases.  Then we got outside of Manizales and I had a sweet corn arepa with cheese for dinner.  It was very good.
Driving to Manizales in the dark was beautiful.
Manizales at night.  We stayed in a very nice hotel with hot water for showers. 
The Andean duck at the Paramo.  It was getting cold here.  My jacket was in my car at the Houston airport.  But I put on a tshirt, shirt and rain jacket.  Bill kept losing his binocular cap and finally Arley duct taped it on. 

One curve on the way up had at least 100 crosses. There was road construction going on so I can only hope they were making the curve safer.  Somewhere we were stopped by the police because Arley had a crack in the windshield.  They took our passports but eventually let us go.  Two places were closed for lunch because the ladies went into town. 

The Bearded Helmetcrest is spectacular.  Bryan has fantastic pictures of it.

This tells it all

This is an abandoned hotel.  I really needed to use the banos so Jose took me in there.  I thought I was in an episode of the twilight zone.  There was a creepy caretaker  As I passed his room, it was the size of a pantry with a bed and TV and some shelves.  Then I got to the hot springs pool and this really tall Brit was jumping in.  Jose talked to him and he had taught English in Korea and then decided to bicycle around the world.  He spent 7 months in Mexico learning Spanish and is now making his way through South America.  Today I googled this hotel and found his blog,  I corresponded with him, very interesting person. 

A new road was built to the top of the mountain and this hotel lost business.  But people still come for the day despite the fact there is no furniture.  At one time it was very nice.  There is another hot springs hotel in Manizales now. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Montezuma Road

We left Otun Quimbaya after lunch.   The road to Pueblo Rico is under construction (as is most roads in Colombia) so we took the long way around since it would be closed 2 to 5.  When we got to Pueblo Rico, we picked up groceries for the lodge owner.  Most people in Colombia have motorcycles, much less expensive.  Police presence is very evident.  The guerrillas have been pushed to certain areas.  In Pueblo Rico there were AK47s everywhere you looked. 

The road to Montezuma Lodge is very bumpy and needs 4 wheel drive.  It is 14 kilometers from the main road, up the mountain.  The lodge is nice, basic.  Where we stayed had 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms.  Hot water only going to one bath right now.  There is a big open area between the bedrooms.  The lodge is located in the cloud forest. 

The owner, Leopoldina, known as Leo is a Seventh Day Adventist, that is a widow with 4 teenaged girls.  Also living with her is her father, sister and her sister's daughter.  Leo's girls did the cooking and cleaning.  One also did our laundry for us!

This part of Colombia is generally sunny in the morning, and then cloudy/rainy in the afternoon.  The temperature is between around 60 and 70 from morning till afternoon, and it is the same 365 days a year.  The fog also rolls in as you can see in pictures.

The food is excellent!  The best food of our stay.  There are feeders by the dining area.

The doors are generally open to the outside all the time.  At night you have to be careful with lights because of bugs.  This is the main house, we ate on the left side.  The kitchen is detached to the left.  Dining is open air with a roof.  My favorite part of breakfast was the cheese sandwiches.  And I loved eating everyone's tomatoes and avocados!

This is how foggy it can get.  Jose and Leo were not far from me. 

Leo is very interested in having serious ecotourists and not the casual tourist.  She wants birders/botanists/ecologists.  She knows her mountain.  The first day we went almost to the top.  There is a military base on the top but the whole day we only saw 2 soldiers on a motor cycle come down.  It is about 30 kilometers on a very steep road to get to the top.  From the lodge it took us 2 hours to get there.  The plants were gorgeous.  Leo even showed up a very rare orchid that she found.


The views were stunning.  Unfortunately I think I lost a lot of pictures when my hard drive crashed.  Moral to the story is immediately back up twice. 
Lunch was delivered hot to us by one of Leo's daughter's on horseback.  We would walk down the hill and Arley would follow us in the car.  The quote of the day was Bill stating I got my sense of adventure from my parents.  He was a little anxious on the roads. 

There were growing in the wild.

The pet parrot.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pereira, Colombia and Otun Quimbaya Reserve

Disclaimer:  My 6 year old laptop lost it's power supply after 2 days.  And I had not backed up my photos to the external hard drive.  I am pretty sure that the issue is the power supply but don't want to spend money on the old laptop.  So I got a hard drive enclosure, but now have figured out that I need jumpers to make it a slave, so I may have those pictures by the end of the week when I figure out where to get jumpers and where to put them.  I do have all the pictures from the other days on Bill's laptop and the external hard drive.

Bill and I were not flying out until 3 so we were taking care of the yard and cleaning house for the cat sitter in the morning.  I panicked when I thought my scales were weighing wrong and loaded up the bags and took them to the vet's office to weigh them on their dog scales.  No need to panic, they only weighed 28 pounds each.  They felt like 100 pounds.

We managed to stash everything into one bag each and 1 backpack each.

Off to the airport we go.  We park, get to the terminal, breeze through security and I remember my sweatshirt jacket is in the car.  Hello it was 100 degrees outside.  Bill wants Jamba Juice, I tell him I will park him at the gate and go find it.  Jamba Juice was right by our gate.  We go to Einstein Brothers and get bagels, we are happy.

We had upgraded to economy plus to give Bill more legroom.  We have 2 horrible kids behind us. The petite mother upgraded herself and the horrible kids that proceeded to kick my seat for 4 1/2 hours.  A nice Canadian is next to me and when we get to Panama he points out the Bridge of the Americas and shows me the different neighborhoods.  What a great history lesson I received.

Tocumen Airport was hot and dirty.  (We found out later we were in the old part)  Cokes were $3.50 in the airport.  There was free Wifi and I had an email from Bryan asking how he was going to spot our driver and guide.  I said maybe they will have a sign and take a picture.  We board the plane to Pereira and are the only Anglos on the flight.  We are also at the back of the plane since you can't reserve the seats ahead of time.

Immigration takes forever.  We are at the back of the line.  One guy took 4 minutes.  The guy asked us where we were staying and of course we had no clue.  I finally remembered the itinerary.  Did I mention he didn't speak English and our Spanish is weak.  Finally we get stamped in.  We grab our bags and breeze through customs. 

We go out of the airport to find Bryan with Arley the driver and Jose the guide.  I asked how he found them.  He said he was at the Wifi hotspot and overheard his name.  So he asked them if they were meeting him.  We drive 40 minutes to Otun Quimbaya.  It's now 1 AM.  Luisa meets us and we go to our room.  Bill says which bag is mine, the blue one or the gray one?  I said "We don't have a blue one".  Ooops.  So Arley calls the number on the bag and they realize they have ours.  So the plan is to go back to the airport at 5:30 and get the right bag.  Meanwhile Luisa washes Bill's clothes. 

We bought me a fancy new camera and lens the week before we left.  And we bought Bill a new lens for his camera that he had taken one picture with in the last 3 years.  He decided he really wanted to get into DSLR, he had not taken pictures since film.  Despite a few temper tantrums, he got excellent pictures.  I'm still learning my camera but accidently got a few good pictures. 

We found some good birds and enjoyed the resort.  Arley, the driver, is a character.  I kept thinking the whole time how much fun my mom would have with him.  And her Spanish is better than ours.  Bryan's improved greatly over the summer since he was there doing research all summer.  Jose, our guide was fabulous.  He was very interesting too!!  We could not be luckier!

Otun Quimbaya was quite comfortable and the food was good. 

Pictures to follow when Bryan posts his and when I get access to ours.  Pictures with tomorrow's post.