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Chrysalis Adventures
Bogata to Medellin, Colombia

Bogota to Medellin, Colombia

We have now been in Colombia a little over two weeks. We spent a couple days in Bogota and enjoyed seeing the capital and all the hoopla with Day of the Dead. Most misunderstand holiday. It is a day to remember those family members and friends that have passed on not a Latin version of Halloween. In lots of Latin American cities Halloween is now celebrated but it is on the 31st and is not associated with the Day of the Dead at all. But the children like the candy and to dress up, so we saw lots of spider-men and such on the 31st. We flew out of Bogota with fine weather however after the quick flight to Medellin (30 minutes) we found the airport was in a torrential downpour and had to abort landing twice. When we were about to touch ground we could see nothing out the windows, then without any notice we were at full throttle and everyone was looking at each other like WTF! We were told that the runway was like a lake at the moment so we were going to "go around" for awhile and see if it improved. As we gained altitude and got a few miles form the airport the visibility was clear and we could see a big black cloud over the airport. After 30 minutes we tried again and same thing full throttle at the last second, was a little less scary this time around. So we were told we would be going back to Bogota. We spent an hour in Bogota sitting in the plane then flew back and landed without any drama this time. We got a "good" taxi this time who took us to our hotel after what seemed like a road race through the mountain curves, 30 miles away. Our room turned out to be fine and at $16.00 a great deal. Our neighborhood was a little dicey but not bad in the daylight. At night different story, loud bars, a casino, and lots of hookers. We didn't go out after dark much and when we decided to make a break for a restaurant we had spied during the day we walked fast and looked straight ahead. We started looking for long term living quarters as we decided to spend two months in Colombia instead of one. Our old friend form Panajachel, Guatemala was by coincidence in Medellin and went with us to look for an apartment. We could not find one but there was an extra room where she was staying so we inquired about staying there and rented a room for two months. There were seven people living in one apartment but with five bedrooms, a large kitchen, separate huge dinning room and a living room if felt much like a hostel. We have been quite happy here playing games with our "roomies" and cooking up big communal dinners. The one exception to the bliss was our resident schizophrenic roomy. She would stay in her room constantly and turn down invitations for dinner. As time went on she seemed to become increasingly disturbed, with loud praying, chanting and general outbursts in her room (next to us). In the last couple days she had become confrontational and had verbally attacked most of us in the house and at one point put a curse on us all and called us lunatics. So we told the owner something had to be done or we would have to find other accommodations. We had taken to locking our bedroom door at night in fear she meet come in with a knife yelling God told her to kill us. We were careful to avoid her and looked out the door first before going out of our room at night to use the restroom. Finally after hearing complaints from all of us the owner told her to leave. That morning we woke to screaming, crying, and pleas to God as to why he had not kept her safe. We were all relieved to see her go, although we felt sorry for her wondering where she would end up. The next two days we partied it up with our friend from Guatemala Lissa and her fellow Dave. Our other roomies, Thomas and Jim, joined in and we played our game "Catch Phrase" late into the night. She just left today and we hope to see her again some day, but one never knows. We just got a new roommate who is Ecuadorian and is very nice. We will be picking his brain for intel on Ecuador as we will fly there in January unless we change our minds again. We have found a children's charity to volunteer at "Angels de Medellin" and we plan to start in another week of so. So stay tuned for more adventures on the Chrysalis Adventure.

After the storm / Hello colombia

After the storm / Hello Colombia

As I write up this blog entry we have just arrived in Bogata, Colombia. I left off the last blog entry waiting for hurricane Patricia to hit us. The storm hit the west coast at 7pm and we were 100 miles away. The storm was moving very slowly at 15 miles an hour or so and at 10 pm we were expecting to be hit any moment. But the wind never came. It was barely raining, very strange. As we had internet on and off I was able to track the storm though the national hurricane center. Finally at 2am it looked that we had missed the bullet. Unbelievably the worst hurricane in history had somehow missed us. It turns out that Puerto Vallarta sits right on the flank of the Sierra Madre mountains. One ridge runs from Vallarta out to the west and the other running north to south. The hurricane happened to hit just south at the intersection of these mountains which ripped the storm apart very rapidly. Also the storm hit just north of Manzanillo and just south of Vallarta in a path that has a very small population. Six people died but it should have been much worse. Had it been slightly north or south the outcome would have been very different. We figure they were a lot of people praying including us. The next day venders returned to the beach as if nothing had happened however many tourists had flown out so it was hard on the town financially. Down in Barra de Navidad it was another story as they had a lot of storm and flood damage. We spent the remaining days in Bucerias taking walks on the beach and generally relaxing. One of the stand outs in our time in Bucerias was making friends with a family that ran a little grass roof open beach restaurant (a palapa). This was a low budget operation and we were able to hang out with them on a few afternoons, we were usually the only customers. So we felt that we were able to provide some income for this family by eating here rather than the many big fancy restaurants. They would bring out there grandsons and would and sit with us and chit chat about life. This is our favorite way to meet the real Mexican people and they really appreciate our efforts to just be human beings enjoying each others company, no one better than the other. Finally we had to say our goodbyes and of course we got pictures of the family with the grand-kids and we had made another friend. We left our little casa (home) the next day and went and spent the next two days in old Vallarta in the little hotel we stayed at when we first came in. We enjoyed more walking of the cobbled streets of old Vallarta and drinks at the beach with another new friend we made there Janette. I was able to take the bus over to Mismaloya beach where the movie "Night of the Iguana" was filmed. An idyllic beach, it is hard to imagine what the place looked like in 1964 when no hotels were here. The film site is closed on the main road, but there is an old walk way along the shore over to the site. At the beach is the concrete quay (dock) that was used to bring boats in for the shoot as there were no roads here at the time. On the quay there remains a pole made of concrete fifty foot tall with a six foot long iguana cast on it along with a snake (see pics). From the quay are terraces leading up the hill. Stairs lead up the hillside but there is a razor wire fence with signs to stay out. The fence and signs looked really old so I thought maybe they don't care anymore, so of course over I went. There must have been six terraces as I went up the cliff and at the top, the ruins of an old restaurant. The view from up there was amazing and I imagined Liz taking it all in while watching the shoot progress. The entire place has being taken over by the jungle with many buildings in various states of ruin, sad. At one point it must have been a tourist attraction but had now gone into a state of decay. Maybe now that they have rebuilt Taylor's old house they will rebuild the film site. I continued up the hill to the main road rather than back track. When I got to the gate there was a guard and a pit bull and neither looked happy to see me. The guard was young but came up to me with a machete! My Spanish is still poor (getting better) and he was not happy and was speaking very fast. It became apparent that he felt I should have been able to read the signs down below and that I could have been attacked by the other pit bull running loose!(I don't believe there was another pit bull out there but who knows). I stayed calm and just kept saying I'm sorry yo vamanos(I go). Finally he got tired of yelling and let me go as we walked by the pit bull trying his best to break the chain holding him back and eat me. The next day we flew out of Vallarta onto our next adventure in Colombia. It's now the 3rd of November, two months since we left the states crossing into Mexico on foot. We landed in Bogota, Colombia and proceeded to find an ATM to get local currency. The ATM was at the exit of the airport and were surrounded by men saying, taxi, taxi, taxi. I told them to back off while tried get money which was a little confusing as the exchange rate was 2,900 to the dollar. Finally I told one of the taxi guys ok and proceeded to follow him out of the airport. However he did not stop at the line of (many) taxis but proceeded to lead us to the parking lot! We got to his car and it was not a taxi! I told him no we were not going with him. He yelled he had identification, then when I still refused he threw his hands up and yelled something. We walked back to where all the other taxis were. He followed us and tried to get us to get into another taxi (this time a yellow one). We ignored him and went over to the line of taxis and got in one. It was 2am, we were tired, it was Colombia and we were on hyper alert! This taxi took us to our hotel but drove through an area that did not look good. Graffiti all over everywhere and unsavory looking characters. We were a little concerned. When we pulled up to the hotel we were relieved to find it still open (thank God). We were now in Colombia, murder capital of the world twenty years ago, now they say it is much safer. One just needs to stay out of the bad areas, sounds like L A. Stay tuned for more adventures as we head over to the infamous City of Medellin (ya as in Medellin Cartel).

11/04/2015 | Darcy
Oh lordy, keep your raider on and don't climb any fences! Stay safe!
La Paz to Mazatlan

Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta

Our little hotel in Mazatlan was nice and clean, had a view of the bay and a pool for $35! The building dated back to the 20's and was originally a government building. In it's hey day, in the 1950's it was a grand hotel on the beach of old town Mazatlan. In the court yard the stairway was built of hand hewed teak beams, along with banyan tree's both nearly one hundred years old. Like La Paz, Mazatlan has a great malecon but this one goes on for miles. We walked four miles of it then got a taxi. We met up with another old cruising friend of ours, Dennis. We had met Dennis down in El Salvador two years ago. We were heading south and he north, again we figured we would never see each other again. We had a great evening together over drinks and dinner swapping cruising stories and lie's. He came over to our hotel the next morning and we had coffee together and said goodbye probably, to never to see each other again, but one never knows for sure and this is the way it goes with cruising/back packing travel. This was our second visit to Mazatlan so we had seen most of it before. We walked old town again in the "historic district", homes built in late 1800's by German immigrants who built the silver mines. Some of these are in ruins with tree's growing up through them after the roofs had caved in. Some are in poor state of repair, but a majority have been completely restored and are worth several hundred thousand dollars. We had meet another couple of "backpacker" travelers on the ferry and met up with them walking the malicon, what are the odds. One of whom "Orly" was a Mexican national who was fluently bilingual. She said she had rode her bicycle from Encenada to La Paz and was continuing up to Mexico City, aah to be young. We always enjoy meeting other budget travelers and share info on cheap places to stay and places to see and do, like hey there's 25 cent toco's down the block. We stayed two days in Mazatlan and took the bus to Puerto Vallarta. The only bus to PV left at 12:30 at night getting there at 8am. This bus was a pretty nice one with comfortable seats so were able to get "some" sleep but it was OK. Again we found a little rustic hotel in Old Puerto Vallarta. Clean, a pool and one block from the beach, it was just right for us. We headed out after checking in looking for coffee and some breakfeast. And who did we meet while we sat at an open air cafe on the malicon ,but Orly and her friend from Spain. We bought them a coffee and chatted. We had tried to book a place to stay for a couple of weeks and had an appointment to go look at it today. We took it. It was a little studio a block from the beach in a little town called Bousareas 15 miles up the bay from P.V. We will move in tomorrow and will do more exploring from there. Ok got moved in but the studio was not availible so the owner put us in a two bedroom with a pool and A/C for the same price! As I write this we have been here in the Puerto Vallarta area for 10 days and as usual have been busy exploring. We have also been to P.V. before so we are trying to see some things we did not see before. We explored Old Town Vallarta, walking the old (like 60 years old) coble stone streets. We were looking for the Elizabeth Tayor and Richard Burtons old in the old town area. We could not find it the first we searched but did find a new friend Janette who we chatted with for some time as we both out strolling. She is an expat and lives here in P.V.. After doing some research we found out the the house had been torn down to the foundation and was in the state of rebuilding. Apparently Liz had sold it in 1990 and left all her belonging there, old pictures and clothes. We were happy when we finally found as it had been rebuilt to it's original splender with the little pink (Love bridge) connecting Liz's house to Burtons as they were both married at the time. Burton stared in the movie "The night of the Iguana" here shoot in 1964 and apparently it was this fact that put "Vallarta" on the tourist map. We were also able to arrage to meet and have drinks with our old friend "Billy Bob" Billy Bob owns Billy Bobs bar and grill up in San Blas were we stayed with our boat back in 2011. We hung out at the bar a fare amount back than as it was a favorite hang out and meeting place for cruisers and expats. It was great to see him again and catch up on the local gosip in San Blas and there was always plenty when we were there. We explored around our little place here in "Bucerias", visting the beach and just enjoyng hanging out. On the 20th of October we found out that hurricane "Patricia" had spawned and was predicted to hit Vallarta! It has been strange waiting for the storm. We have felt safe in our little concrete Casa.On the 22nd the storm developed into a category 5 storm and as of a few hours ago had grown to be the most intense storm in US history! So as I write this we are hunkerd down with lot's of food and water, waiting for the shit to hit the fan!

It's now 10pm Friday the 23, it's very odd sitting and waiting. Storm should hit us in a few hours. We are hoping for less than a dead on hit. Our internet has been on and off. Our lights are still on, but the tv's dead. We will tell the rest of the story in our next blog entry. Stay tuned for more adventure.

La Paz to Mazatlan

We arrived in Mazatlan on the 9th of Oct after a 19 hour ride on the ferry. The ferry is primarily a vehicle transport and secondarily a passenger accommodation. So it's well, we'll say rustic. We did not feel we wanted to spend the extra money on a cabin but after 5 hours sitting and finding out that it was less then we thought, we asked about a cabin at 10pm, but alas it was to late to get one. We did not sleep much, I (Dave) went up on deck a few times in the middle of the night to watch the thunder storms around us. When we got off we were ready for a shower and a nap. We ended up spending two weeks in La Paz when we had only planned one. Leiann fell on one of the sidewalks (they are treacherous). We thought she had broken her wrist as it looked dislocated. We didn't immediately go to the doctor as we knew that they could not cast it that day as it was very swollen. I made her a splint out of cardboard and ace bandage that along with good Mexican drugs made her comfortable. The next day we called an old cruiser friend who gave us a doctor's number. He met us in the lobby of the clinic and talked to us for an hour while we waited for the X-ray tech. He took 5 X-rays and showed them to us and told us he did not think it was broken but dislocated with a badly bruised bone. He called a hand surgeon who came in and gave a second opinion. He also felt it was not broken (we were relieved), he put on a huge soft cast. Our total cost for the two hours, $250!!! With her a little fragile we thought we would stay and let her heal up a bit. But with good drugs she was still able to get out and see some of La Paz. The hostel that was recommended by our old cruising friends (Tom and Jeanne of S/V Eagle) was very nice and it was not long before we felt it to be our home and a base for exploration. We would hide out in our room (loving the AC) until afternoon because it was 98 degrees outside. In the afternoon we would go out exploring. La Paz has a great Malecon (large side walk along the water front), so we walked it a lot in the evenings eating ice cream. We found that La Paz does not have much for the walking visitor. We did visit a couple of churches, the cultural museum, pottery display, swam with the whale sharks and went to a beautiful white sand beach. We had a great dinner with Tom and Jeanne and reminisced about our travels down the BAJA fours years ago. It's seems like a dream now. They were with us coming down from San Diego. They are also from WA State and had sailed down the coast the same time I did and hit some of the same bad weather. It's always fun to meet up with old cruising friends, there is common bond that's hard to explain, we understand what each other have gone through to get here. The highlight of our visit to La Paz was meeting up with a local name Alfonso. He was our waiter and he spoke English and Spanish (bi-lingual). He shared with us that he had been in medical school but had to drop out of med school because his father was no longer able to help him pay for it. He said he was still in school just not med school. We asked him to drive us around to get our tickets for the ferry and ended up taking him with us to swim with the whale sharks. It was great to share the experience with him. Afterwards he insisted that he should take us over to see the most beautiful beach (Balandara). It was our last day in town and it was a great day and we made a new friend to keep up with on Facebook and the blog. We are now exploring Mazatlan and will travel to Puerto Vallarta in a couple days. Stay tuned and check out our pictures in the gallery on the right. Ciao!

The road to La Paz

After a nice 9 day stay in La Bufadora we boarded our bus not looking forward to the 22 hour ride. The last bus, T.J. to Ensenada, as I had mentioned prior had very nice seats. However as soon as we sat down we knew this was going to be a long ride. Within an hour our backs hurt and we only had twenty one to go. After a long restless night (with some sleep, but not much) we were awakened by the bus driver at 5am. He was standing over us trying to tell us something like "GET OFF THE BUS" no is poss see bly. What the heck? It became apparent that we were in a major tropical storm and the road ahead of us was washed out. When Leiann got out of her seat I noticed her shorts had something all over her butt. They had sprayed the toilet down with apparently near full strength bleach and her navy shorts on the butt were now rust colored. Good news was? They clean the toilets! Amid much confusion we were herded on another bus after an hour and it seemed like we were going to be able to ride it to La Paz. No one was able to speak English so we were not sure what was going on. I tried talking to the new bus driver about our bags that were still on the other bus, but he just waved me off (I think his life was mass confusion about then) We started backing up in the new bus but our bags were still on the old one. We got off the bus and got our bags, finally. After more confusion regarding if we could get a taxi to a hotel (first no then yes) we made it to a little hotel for $22 bucks that had a hot water shower (a luxury), t.v. and WIFI. We were able then to go online and see what the hell was going on. The storm 16E would not pass for another day. It rained like hell all night. The next day the sun came up and we ventured out to see rocks all over the road that had washed down the hill and the national guard in heavy equipment cleaning it up. So we figured we would stay another day so they could get the roads fixed before we headed out again. We ended up happy that we got stuck here in Santa Rosalia as it was a cool little town that we otherwise would have missed. The town dates back to the early 1800's and was a big copper producer run by the French. It turns out the copper was shipped by four masted wooden ships up the coast to WA State with copper and came back with wood from the Pacific Northwest (who woulda thunk). The next day we loaded up on a much better bus and eight hours later we were in La Paz. We took a taxi to the little hotel we had booked, $24 , again hot water shower (woo hoo), t.v. and WIFI, what a deal. We looked up some old cruiser friends here Tom and Jeanne of S/V Eagle had dinner at a fantastic fish place and shared old stories and new ones since we had last seen them four years ago. They drove us around town and gave us lots of good low down on things to do and see. They also told us about a very nice hostel and took us by for a look. It was a big upgrade from our little hotel (as nice as it was for the money). We moved the next day and have now been here two nights. It's just like we like it, communal cooking area, plants everywhere, nice a/c, t.v. WiFi, refrigerator in the room (really big luxury), king size bed, very clean, a little restaurant attached what else do ya need and it's only $160 for the week (7 days). So we have been out exploring and checking out the area. We have met a local who is bilingual and we enjoyed meeting him and are trying to hook him up with a job (he is a waiter now and "ours"). He had to drop out of med school because he could not afford to continue now. He is still going to school though and we tried to encourage him and told him about a possible job he could do online for a US company which would allow him to go to school and work online instead of working as a waiter for $9 a DAY. So we are hanging here maybe for awhile before heading across the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan (another 16 to 18 hr ride on a ferry this time). More later STAY TUNED! Oh just a couple more items: Leiann talked me into a getting a pedicure while she got one and so I did. I did not however get polish on my toenails despite the girls trying to talk me into it. Did enjoy the massage chair and my feet do look pretty spectacular! Yesterday we went grocery shopping and another first for us was taking the cart down the escalator, yep you heard right, and it is a typical thing to do. Did I mention Leiann does not like snakes! Be sure to check out our pictures in the galllery

Ensenada again
Very nice Low 80's
09/17/2015, Ensenada, Mexico

Leaving the 8th of September we flew out of Seattle resuming the Chrysalis Adventure!
We landed in Denver and missed our connecting flight by minutes. We ended up having to spend the night at a hotel and pay for another flight, $300+ gone from the budget. Since this was our anniversary we had a nice dinner at.....Denny's. Well we weren't exactly downtown Denver so one has to take what is available. It could have been worse, we could have slept at the airport and paid through the nose for food. Landing in San Diego Leiann's friend Kim (who was actually there the day before) picked us up at the airport and we had a fun day with her, her ex and his wife (long story) having drinks on the deck overlooking the bay. We spent a night with her at a hotel right on the border so as to cross in the morning. She was paranoid of crossing the border or even getting close to it for fear of the "Cartels". I (Dave) asked if there would be any problem with her dropping us off at the border then her turning around. The Spanish speaking woman at the hotel desk said No Problem. When we came to the border on I-5 there was nowhere for her to turn around and before we knew it we were in Mexico! She was freaking! We drove for some time trying to find our way back to the border to get her out of Mexico. I said we could just get out here which she thought to be very dangerous. Leiann said we can't leave her here so we got her across the border and found the "correct" drop gate for foot traffic. We bid her farewell and thanked her for her hospitality, put on back packs and crossed into the dangerous border town of Tijuana! The first thing we did was walk the streets where we were again one of the few white faces, and found ice cream on the street, it was good to be back in Mexico! Our other old cruising friends Pat and Lynn of S/V Cricket came and picked us up in Ensenada after a bus ride on a nice modern air conditioned bus, with seats much better then those on the plane. We were spoiled with dinners overlooking the bay. The view of the bay from their home is awesome and worth a million bucks. Two days later we were left the run of the place as they had to go up to the states for doctor appointments. We took some hikes and hung with some locals at the non-tourist bar which had rattlesnake tequila (with a dead snake in it)). Leiann actually drank some as I took a picture with the snake (Leiann hates snakes). It's the 17th and we will head out for La Paz in a couple days. We don't know if we will ever see our friends Pat and Lynn again but that is the way it goes with the cruising (or backpack traveling). It makes it even more sweet when you do get to catch back up with each other. We hope to meet up with more old friends on our way south to Panama. Our next blog will be in La Paz where we plan to hang for awhile in a hostel, maybe do some diving, take a side trip to Cobo or what ever comes up? Stay tuned for more of Chrysalis adventures!

09/17/2015 | Kim
Hey..... I wasn't afraid of the "cartel"!!!! I was worried about the POLICE!!!! I didn't want to be thrown in jail (again), for an innocent misunderstanding!!!!
09/17/2015 | Leiann
Oh that's right....a little misunderstanding. (wink wink) I'll tell Dave, he wrote it.

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