Showing posts from March, 2013

Getting from Colombia to Panama and Away

When we arrived in Puerto Obaldía in Panama, we had a most thorough customs check just like years ago in Peru. An obese female officer had to stick her dirty hands to all of our stuff including food, spices, and underwear. After that she dropped carelessly a wireless microphone to the ground damaging the delicate device. We had just had enough of Panama within the first two hours we had been there and decided to head immediately towards Costa Rica and Nicaragua. How to cross Darién Gap from Colombia to Panama? The trip is relatively easy using boats (10 kg luggage limit) with 273,000 Colombian pesos (US$ 155, 131€) whereas the cheapest direct flight (with Avianca airlines) from Medellín to Panama City costs 672,000 Colombian pesos (US$ 382, 294€) thanks to high airport taxes. Third option is to participate in a five-day sailboat tour that costs 880,000 Colombian pesos (US$ 500, 385€) plus drinking water. By walking some parts of the trail you can save a bit of money, but at the same …

Hiking and Filming in Colombia

We went to Colombia to meet our friends Bill and Betty whom we got to know when we were all living in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2005—2006. We met Bill and Betty last time in Cambodia in 2006, and it felt good to see them again. We talked incessantly, wandered in the markets, and exchanged tips for hot new releases in books and in TV shows. Bill and Betty have the habit of escaping Minnesota winters and this year they had chosen to hibernate in Santa Marta, Colombia. Santa Marta is a popular and polished tourist city. It has a fair amount of beautiful colonial buildings and a nice stretch of beach, and the city is kept clean and safe. The presence of soldiers and policeman seemed a bit exaggerated to us: they were literally everywhere. The contrast to the local living areas was huge. When we stepped out of the old city, we found streets full of trash and houses that looked like they were collapsing any time.