The village of Ducaj near Boge, Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Tirana Airport, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Porto, Portugal on June 25th!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Travel day! Villavieja to Bogota, Colombia

We were up a little late again yesterday morning. Because of the itchy rash, I haven't been sleeping much and so when I am actually sleeping in the morning, Ruth just allows me to sleep. That's all fine and dandy, but we should be getting up earlier on travel days.

We paid our bill at the hotel in Villavieja. Nice friendly little town and we would have liked to have stayed longer if it hadn't been so darned hot!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Amazing scenery at Colombia's Tatacoa Desert (part 2)

We're in Bogota now (that story will come tomorrow morning!), but we still wanted to continue this morning's post. So you might want to read that first if you haven't already. It's available here... if you've read that part we can now continue with our desert tour!

A bumpy ride to Colombia's spectacular Tatacoa Desert (Part 1)

The only reason we came to Villavieja was to see the Tatacoa Desert. But during the day from 10:00am to 4:00pm, it's too hot to do anything else but laze around. So other than going for breakfast, that's exactly what we did until about 3:00pm.

At that time, we walked down to the central plaza and made arrangements with a "moto-taxi" to take us into the desert.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Travel day! San Agustin to Villavieja, Colombia.

You never quite know what to expect on a travel day. Sometimes everything goes smoothly, and other times it does not.

Yesterday was a "does not" kind of a day!

Friday, November 27, 2015

The odd statues at San Agustin, Colombia

Yesterday morning, we walked down to the main road and took the local bus to the archaeological park. It's only a 3 km walk, but we decided to take the 1,200 peso ($0.55 CAD) bus.

We had already paid the admission fee via the park passport we had bought during the tour yesterday.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Busy day, including Colombia's highest waterfall...

Yesterday morning we were sitting at the table here at the hostel, having a hot chocolate and just finishing up writing the blog when the girl from the hostel comes over with a guy who does jeep tours of the area. We had wanted to do one of these tours because it's the only way to see some of the sights we wanted to see.

But he was leaving right then! In fact, the jeep was waiting outside with four other people already in it, and he was looking for two more passengers to fill the vehicle.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Not many birds, but lots of butterflies!

We came to San Agustin to visit the archaeological park here, but we heard rumors that it was to be closed on Tuesday. It's supposed to be open every day of the week, so we figured that the only way to find out for sure was to walk on over there!

The main part of the park is 3 kms (1.9 miles) from town, so if it ended up being closed at least we would get a walk out of it!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Travel day! Popayan to San Agustin, Colombia.

Had to get up fairly early yesterday to get to the bus station at a decent hour. We had read that the road between Popayan and San Agustin is in pretty bad shape at some parts, and that the 135 km (84 mile) journey would take 5 hours.

Got up, went out to get some take away breakfast stuff, stopped at the BanColombia ATM to get some more pesos then back to the room to grab our bags. As we left the hotel, we flagged down one of the thousands of little yellow taxi cabs, and paid him 3,000 pesos ($1.36 CAD) to take us to the bus station.

Monday, November 23, 2015

No better, but no worse...

Went for a walk around town yesterday morning. Stopped into a place for breakfast and ended up having lunch. We weren't really presented with a menu, and by the time we finished talking to the guy about what to have we ended up with plates of rice and meat again. A little expensive too...with the hot chocolate it came to 24,000 pesos ($10.92 CAD) for the two of us.

Too funny. I know that's still dirt cheap, but it's more than we have paid at other places.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A visit to a Colombian doctor...

Not for Ruth this time though. Fortunately, her kidney infection from a week or so ago seems to be all better.

This time, it's my turn.

About five or six days ago I noticed a rash appearing on the left side of my right calf. I've had this twice before in the past couple of years, both times while in Mexico. But this time it got much worse.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Travel day! Buga to Popayan, Colombia.

Yesterday was a travel day, and while some travel days go smoother than others...this was one of the worst. Not terrible, really...just not one of the better travel days we've had.

At least we woke up to some sunshine and blue sky.

The bus terminal in Buga was located just over 1 km from our downtown hostel, so we decided to walk it.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Six miles in the Colombian jungle

Yesterday, we signed up for a guided tour to a waterfall done through the Buga Hostel where we're staying. There is a local guy, Pipo who runs inexpensive tours to several nearby locations.

There was one other couple who went with us, Courtney and Joel from Florida. The five of us met in the lobby here and then walked a few blocks to take a local bus into the countryside.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Exploring the city of Buga, Colombia

Went for a walk around the small city of Buga, Colombia yesterday. Population here of about 98,000 people. It's not on the international tourist trail at all. Most people head straight to the city of Cali, about 70 kms (43 miles) away.

But in doing the research, we couldn't find much of interest to us in Cali, plus we've had several locals tell us it's not the safest city. So we are going to skip it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Travel day! Filandia to Buga, Colombia.

We paid our bill at Bidea Hostel in Filandia. 186,000 pesos ($88.35 CAD) for three nights. A little overpriced compared to some of the other hostels we've stayed at in Colombia. Two things that typically have bothered us about these hostels...the kitchen facilities available to the guests have been substandard in our opinion, and they seem to have a massive shortage of hooks and hangers in Colombia, because none of the hostels that we have stayed at have enough of them!

Seriously, for something so some hooks for the walls and put up some shelving in the rooms! And yes, we did mention this to the young owner before we left.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The fascinating scenery at Valle de Cocora, Colombia

This area is why we came to Salento to begin with. Of course we had seen pictures on the web while doing our research for this trip, and that was the instigator to come here. But pictures never do it justice, and that's certainly the case here. Being there in person is far better.

Ruth had not been feeling well last week, so we never made it there on our schedule. But we weren't leaving the area without seeing the giant wax palm trees! So we hung around a few more days until Ruth recovered. Yesterday, was the day...

Monday, November 16, 2015

Nice lookout tower...but it's closed.

Supposed to be breakfast included at this hostel, but as we watched the girl put it together yesterday morning we realized there wasn't much for us. Sure, coffee and tea, but we had already made our own hot chocolate anyhow. She brought out a big plate of chopped up papaya, and there were a couple of bananas and some bread and jam. That's it. Of course we couldn't eat the we left for our hike still a little hungry.

We stopped at a bakery. It's common in this area to get "pan de bono" which is a really soft cheese bread made with corn flour. It's really nice actually!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Travel Day! Salento to Filandia, Colombia

We really enjoyed our stay at El Mocambo farm hostel near Boquia, Colombia. It's a beautiful, tranquil spot. But, we had to move on...mostly because we couldn't extend our stay there, otherwise I think we probably would have!

El Mocambo has a shuttle service to bring you in to Salento at 8:00am, so we were up at 6:00am yesterday morning in order to get packed up and have breakfast before we left.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The town of Salento, Colombia

Yesterday, we relaxed for the morning and then went into Salento in the afternoon. This morning we are checking out of where we are staying and they only accept cash. We stayed two days more than we planned, plus we have to pay cash at the next place we are staying too so we had to find an ATM.

Otherwise, our cash supply would have been running low.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hike to a waterfall

Ruth doesn't like being cooped up, so despite the fact that she was not feeling 100%, she wanted to get some fresh air. So she said she felt well enough to try the hike to the waterfall, and if we had to take our time and rest along the way, then so be it.

She did come for breakfast and get some food down, so that was a good start.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Not a great day

Yesterday's post was titled "Ruth is feeling better" but unfortunately things went downhill shortly after that and she had a bit of a rough morning. She spent most of the day in bed, and by afternoon was resting and feeling a bit better. Not much of an appetite for dinner, but she did come and sit up in the common area for a while in the evening.

So, no hike to the waterfall to show you yet, and we've extended our stay here until Saturday morning.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ruth is feeling better...

Ruth has been having some pain and irritation from a bladder or kidney infection of some kind. Like most women, she's had these before at times. Not fun, and they're even less fun when you're traveling. So yesterday we decided we had better do something about it and get some antibiotics.

One of the girls at the hostel had some with her and gave some to Ruth to get treatment started before we went in to town.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Travel day! It's always an adventure...

Before we left Kolibri Hostel in Pereira, we walked over to the nearby Bancolombia and used the ATM. This time, we hit the button for 600,000 pesos ($292 CAD) and it worked fine. So we seem to have found a bank that works with our Canadian debit card. Two out of two times so far.

We went back to the room and packed things up. The bus to Salento was supposed to leave the terminal at 11:30am, and we wanted to be there early in case it fills up. Supposedly there's not another one until 4:30pm.

Monday, November 9, 2015

We've had enough of city life...

When we woke up yesterday morning, the sun was shining. We were trying to decide between a walk up the road into the hills behind the hostel, or a walk into downtown to see the cathedral. I checked google maps, and the road up into the hills only goes for 2 kms (1.3 miles) so we decided to head into the city.

Pereira is a modern looking city of about 380,000 people. Not a lot to do here in the city itself, and it's certainly not on the radar for most visitors to Colombia.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A lot of effort goes into the perfect cup of Colombian coffee!

What a fun and interesting day we had yesterday! No trip to Colombia is complete without a visit to a coffee farm, and when we heard great reviews about a small family run operation that was nearby, we knew this was the perfect one for us.

Don Manolo coffee farm is located just ten minutes outside the Pereira city center. It cost 9,000 pesos ($4.41 CAD) to take a taxi from Hostal Kolibri to the farm itself.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Travel day! Manizales to Pereira, Colombia.

We got up yesterday morning, had the included hostel breakfast at Hostal Kaleidoscopio, and asked the owner Martha if we had time to go for a walk to the monument overlook before check out time. She said "sure", and so we got our bags packed first, and then went for a walk.

This is the monument we were trying to get to a couple of days ago when it started raining and then we were sidetracked by paranoia!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Change of plans

Originally, we were planning on going from here (Manizales) directly to Salento. However staying at a hostel means that you're often talking to other travelers from around the world and sometimes that can give you ideas for different things to do in the area.

I had read that Pereira was more of a working class town, and there's not a lot to do there. But we spoke to five young guys visiting from Ireland and they had toured a small coffee plantation near Pereira and they insisted that it was such a good tour that we really should do it.

So we are going to!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Better to be cautious...

Yesterday morning we did some internet and then went to the common room for breakfast. Breakfast is included in our room cost of 60,000 pesos ($28.00 CAD) here at Kaleidoscopio Hostel, and our host Martha even cooks it for you.

She was a little surprised when we asked for arepas instead of toast...most people want the tourist breakfast. And she was so apologetic that she didn't have any and promised to have some for this morning's breakfast.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

October Expenses

Yes, I know...we never did publish our September expense report. I've been trying to be so good about that too, because I know that some of you are interested.

But rather than rehash old news, I'll just give you the total. We spent about $1,400 CAD in September. About $550 of that was motorhome shocks, a new inverter, and the inspection and registration for Saskatchewan plates. Not a bad month overall...I wish October had been that cheap!

Travel day! Medellin to Manizales...

Yesterday was a travel day for us. It's only 192 kms (119 miles) from Medellin to Manizales, but it's on a twisty two lane mountain road where you're lucky to get over 60 km/h (36 mph).

Lots of beautiful scenery though, to keep you occupied for the four to five hour bus ride!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Grocery shopping in Medellin, Colombia

Yesterday was a day of rest...up until we had to climb the hill back up to the house where we've been staying!

The city of Medellin is in a valley, but the suburbs have grown up into the very steep hills of the surrounding mountains. So it's not bad walking down to the grocery store, but walking back up is definitely exercise.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The best view in the world?

Maybe. It certainly ranks right up there among the best views that we've ever seen.

Yesterday we did a day trip to El Penol and the little tourist town of Guatape. El Penol is a rock monolith that has 740 steps that you can climb to get to the top, and it overlooks a beautiful lake that was formed when the Colombian government built a hydro electric dam in the early 1970's.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Exploring central Medellin

Spent the day yesterday exploring central Medellin. The temperature has been great...lows at night around 16C (62F) and highs during the day around 25C (77F). But, it's only just now getting towards the end of rainy season, so although it can be nice and sunny one minute, it can be raining the next minute.

And that's pretty much what happened yesterday.