A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: TatianaN

Bogota again....

rain 22 °C

With great difficulty I have finally left Bogota for the second time, where once again instead of initially planned 4 days I´ve stayed for nearly 2 weeks. Starting from the beginning, why did I come back there in the first place? For the two reasons, the first one is that air ticket price was nearly the same as for the bus which would take me about 24 hours, and second, and honestly a stronger reason is that I wanted to see people I knew, whom I could call my friends and whom I did not have to tell the story of my travelling once agian. I was tired of meeting new people all the time, and so I flew back to Bogota.

Because my sister was expecting a baby, nearly everyday I was expecting a message from home and though it was still a weak early, I quickly poped into the net before the flight and found an email from my dad congratulating me on becoming an aunt! It is a girl, 3kg 100. She was named Vera (meaning Faith in Russia)! Now Vera is all the time next to my sister and everytime I talk to her (to my sister, Verz still can´t talk), I can hear her crying and making some sounds (in this case Vera, not my sister). I was really happy, I wanted to celebrate. So after I´ve landed to Bogota in the evening, nearly straight away I went to one of the milongas where all my friends were. I was really happy to see them, as well as they were sincerely happy to see me back, though after a break I was pretty bad at keeping my balance while dancing. And because it was such a great day we all went to celebrate the birth of Vera. Of cource since Vera was Russia we could only celebrate with vodka ))) Luckily there was one bottle in a bar, afterwards we continued with aguardient (this is a Colombian strong alcohol drink, about 29% with anis, but honestly vodka is much more easy to drink). By the end the night I could not dance at all )))

Everyday I was dancing tango, some days salsa (even though I have never taken any classes of salsa, I can dance it pretty well now). There was not a single day in those 10 days when I came home before 2 in the night appart from Mondays, when I came at about 12. So after a long weekend so many people were telling me not to leave since we would go dancing more tango and more salsa, so I´ve stayed. I really love Colombian people. They are so friendly. Some nights we were just talking discussing everythin: life, love, friendship, the other nights we were dancing till four in the morning. And nearly half of my Colombian tango friends are either tango teachers or professional dancers, and the truth is they don´t really have too much money, so I have not visited any fancy place in Bogota, but I still loved it. I love milongas, with not so many people, but with people I know and who know me, love the small salsa place with hot music and black guys. The truth is that even after 10 days I did not want to leave, but I had to move on. I would love to thank my Colombian friends: Alex for being my tango teacher, Douglas for being a great friend I could always talk to and dance with, Jeniffer for being such a great dancer and for me bringing to salsa bar, Willy for sharing his house with me, Javier for becoming my parsero, Manuel, Johanna, Laura and Edwin for always being happy to see me, and all rest Juan Javier, Nacho, Freddy and others. And thank you to every partner I have danced with, it was a real pleasure and it is a real pleasure to know you all.

Now I am in Popayan and tomorrow I am moving close to Ecuadorian border. Popayan is also called a white city, because all the buildings in the historic center are white. I am now so used to busses that I have slepped all the 14 hours of the trip. Since I have been already travelling for more than three month and staying in cheap hotels and hostels, once in a while I wanted to stay in a good hotel. So now in POpayan for one night I am staying in a only 5 star hotel in the city, with hot water, clean towels, cable TV, 24 hour service and everyone running around me. One night of luxury and tomorrow back to normal backpackers travelling. And tomorrow will be the new day.

Posted by TatianaN 17:44 Archived in Colombia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Park Tayrona

sunny 32 °C

So I was heading from Taganga to park Tayrona. As a result of my laziness instead of leaving at 8 in the morning as I was planning the day before, I´ve left the village only at 2 in the afternoon. And to get to the park I had to go via Santa Marta, which was really flooded due to the heavy rains. And when I say flooded it really means floods of water running through the streets like mountain rivers, water reaching in good case ankles in worst cases knees, and the only way to cross it is to walk over with your flipflops in your hands. When I finally made it to the entrance of the park it was about 4.30 and to get to the nearest camp I had to walk for another 8-10 km which I had not know at that time.

So I´ve paid the park entrance fee, asked how long it would take me to get to the niceset camp, and started walking. The first 5 km were the a nice paved road with birds singing and rare cars and motobikes passing by. I got to the first camp, but according to everyone a nicer place to stay was further in the jungle and another 4 km to go via a small country road in a jungle forest, and even though it was already getting dark I continued my way. Which was rather stupid because in half an hour I found myself alone in a twilight jungle forest with lots of scary sounds of birds, animals and trees coming from every corner. To cheer myself up I´ve started singing, thinking of what could be worth meeting a wild animal or a wild colombian man on my way. By the time I´ve made it to the nearest camp (which was in the forest not by on the coast) it was already dark and only the tiny flashlight in my cellphone was lightening my way. It turned out that sea shore was just in another 5 minutes of walking and I was nearly ready to continue but when I looked back at a completely dark unknow forest with a knowledge that quite often colombian 5 minuts turn into 50 minutes, I´ve stayed in a hammack for a night in this camp and continued my way in the morning.

I woke up in an amazing forest, with morning sunshine lightening the deep green colors of tall palms, the lungs breething in the clearest air of tropical plants and the hearing enjoying the sounds of unknow birds singing. Somewhere in the distance I could hear waves breaking over the shore so I headed that way. It really was in five minutes and after dropping my backpack in another hammack next to the sea, I headed out to explore the wild beaches of the park. This day I wanted to spend on my own, strolling among the trees, swimming in the sea (btw, you can´t swim everywhere because of the strong currents, which are quite dangerous), listening to the sounds of the sea. And it was so peaceful and joyful spending time with noone around. Of cource at some point there was some local guy who had started accompanying me, but I did not want to talk to anyone and was tired of being nice to everyone, so I just told him to go away. This was how my day passed, walking along virgin beaches, swimming, reading and feeling the nature. I have seen a baby donkey there. And in the evening over the full length of sea horizon I was enjoying the brightest rainbow.

In the evening, while waiting for my food in a restaurant (the food in the park in nearly 2 times more expensive then in the rest of Colombia) I´ve met two Lithuanian guys. It was so nice talking to them, because even though they are not Russian, but we still have common past and are more alike in our mentality then with the other foreigners. We talked in Russian, discussed lot´s of stuff, including politics, which I really enjoyed after all this meaningless similar conversation with other travellers. In the final end they offered me an extra bed they had in their cabanio, which I happily excepted because even though I like sleeping in a hammack, the back is quite aching in the morning. Also before coming to the park I bought coockies for the Indian, but in the night we ate them all, so Indians were left without coockies. Well that is their fault because the did not show up earlie, in reality they did not show up at all, and I have seen only one Indian boy in a distance.

The next day I flew back to Bogota.

Posted by TatianaN 12:02 Archived in Colombia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Halloween...Taganga...diving...and more

sunny 32 °C

So we´ve returned from Play Blanca to Cartagena on friday evening, which I was really looking for because I wanted to see what Cartagena nightlife everyone was so talking about was like. Just to let you know Cartagena is full of black Carrebian people, and Carrebian men get really exsited when they see a blond girl. He-he. And everyone seems to dance salsa. (I´ve never taken any classes of salsa, nor merenge, nor anything else, but now after 7 week in Colombia I can dance all these things as well). But because the night on the beach was quite chilly (I was lucky to have a blanket with me), I returned back sick and so friday night was spent sleeping in a hotel in a room without airconditioning to keep me warm.

But the next day was coming satureday night, which was also a Halloween night. The day I´ve roamed around the city trying to take the best photo shot, but unfortunetely there was no sun this day. I did not bother with a halloween costume and was dressed as a Russia girl. The night started with other backpackers on a city square drinking bear and ron. Even after a year in London I still don´t understand why Europeans, Americans and Austarlian enjoy so much this pointless standing in the street with a bear in a hand having a meaningless talk about something but nothing really interesting in particular? So we´ve spent like this for about 1-2 hours and then luckily colombian people came and finally we wend dancing.

Just a few words about how people were dressed up for hallowing. Among the tourist mostly men had made costumes (two were wearing dypers as if being babies, they were really lucky not to end up in a police department). Among Colombian people, mostly the girls were dressed up, and half of them were dressed up like prostitutes and the other half had skirt the leng as if they were prostitutes. Though I do admit that Colombian girls are beatiful and most of them have good figures, apart from some tourists that were dressed like prostitutes but were horrible to look at. But may that was the point, I just did not get it. It was halloween and goal of the halloween is to scare people)))

So the night went on with crazy dancing in different clubs and bars and me being attacked by three men at the same time. The night ended at five in the morning in one of the bars which was already closed. When people started sniffing cocaine in front of me, and then one of the guys nearly ended up in a fight with someone from the bar and knew that it was time to go home.

The next day at 10 in the morning I had my four hour bus to Taganga, a small fishermens village. What is good about taking a bus after a sleepless night is that you pass out for the whole trip and it goes really quickly. I´ve spend in Taganga a day and a half I did not like it to much. Would not say that it is beatiful, has a gray dirty sand and is expensive in comparison to the rest of Colombia, though the lagoon is really nice to swim because there are no currents, not waves. I don´t know what the whole fuss is about Taganga. One day I did scuba diving (that was basically the reason I came to Taganga). Quite nice, nice corals, nice fishes, but the visibility was not that great, about ten meters and after Egypt it does not impress to much. Though in Taganga I´ve understood that I´ve become lazy and decided to start the fight against lazyness, that is why ´ve started writting in the blog again. Also in Taganga I wanted to spend some time on my own, because at some point I got tired of meeting lot´s of new people every day. But even there I could not do it to full extend: I had to go to Santa Marta (a bigger sity next ot the village) to get some cash, and wanted to spend time having a dinner on my own reading a book, but after five minutes walking on the street I was approached by a local guy who was following me everywhere, even in the restaurant, being really annoying , so in the final end I had to take a bus back to Taganga to read a book in silence.

The next day I left to park Tayrona, a national park next to coast, where I spent another two night in hammack...

Posted by TatianaN 14:05 Archived in Colombia Comments (1)

The night on the isolated beach in hammock under moon light

sunny 32 °C

I admit it, I am lazy, and with this relaxed style of life I have become even more lazy, so it is hard for me to write a few lines. But you´ve been asking me to continue writing about my trip, so I am starting to write again and of cource with the latest things that have happened to me.

Just in breif, I´ve been travelling from North to South of Colombia by the mainland, without dropping to the coast. I´ve been here for more than a month, I really love this country, especially and most of all people. I´ve stayed for three weeks in Bogota dancing tango (sounds strange, I know it), spent some time in Zona Cafetera, which is beautiful and peacefull and came to Cali to dance salsa. And every person I´ve met so far had been telling me that I should not have missed the Carrebian coast of Colombia, especially Cartagena. So I got myself an airticket, which costed me about the same as a bus, and I am in Cartagent.

In the historic center of Cartagena, if you omit all the sellers and tourists, you can imagine what life was like 300-400 years ago: men getting in town on horses, women waiting for their husbands on the balconies, mild breez blowing through their air. Beutiful town to stroll around, which was worth returning back to the north of Colombia after nearly reaching the very south.

One of the days there, with an Italian girl from my hostel we took a boat trip to Playa Blanca, it is named one of the most beatiful beaches around Cartagena, and I can admit that it is beatiful. To get there you have to take a boat cause its on a island. We were unlucky to get on a big and very slow boat that took us two hours to get there. And when we got there, I was only thinking how amazing it would be to stay on the beach with no one around and I was ready to through into the sea my return ticket, but did not because with it we could take the next day boat without any problems (later I've lost this ticket, but luckily there is always someone who remembers me, so the crew did not through me overboard on the way back). And so we stayed.

It is a nearly wild beach, with no electricity, no utilities, there are a few places where you can camp or stay in hammock. At about five all the tourists left and we were left nearly on our own. This night the best music was the sound of the sea, the best lightening - the cool light of the moon which was bright as day and colored everything in silver, the best bed was a hammoch, the perfect drink - fresh coco juice. I just strolled around the beach in the night, listened to sea, swam under the moon, and the truth is that it was the night I was perfectly happy and peaceful on my own. It might have been one on the most beatiful night I have seen, it was perfect. I think the less developed is the beach, the more beatiful it is. In most of the case man seen to destroy what the earth has created for us.

The only thing that a little bit spoiled our stay, were moscitos, and since we were not planning it we did not bring anything with us, they've just ate as alive. And they are tiny, you cant see them, but after 3 days I am still scratching all over.

On the next day we were back to Cartagena, ready to party the whole Haloween night....

Posted by TatianaN 17:35 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

First week in Colombia

semi-overcast 23 °C
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Well, I believe it is time for me to write something new, but there are some many things happening everyday that I don´t have time in the evening to write even a few lines...in any case...I am in Colombia...Aha...And dont start to panic and call the militaries to rescue me, I am still safe an sound, I have not been kidnapped, I have not seen cocaine barons, and honestly it feels safer and more organized than Venezuela. i any case Colombia is a really beautiful country with amazing people.

To get to Colombia I had to cross the land border between Venezuela and Colombia, and honestly there is noone who is even bothered to check you passport, there is no passport control and if you dont insist yourself that you need a stamp about exiting the country and entering the new one, they wont even know. Because it was getting dark I got stuck for a night in a border town in Venezuela though I already had my stamp about leaving the country, and the next morning at 6 o´clock I was crossing the border of the two countries by foot. I felt a bit weard because it is a 500 meter long bridge and having to cross it by foot with a huge bag felt like beeing some illigal immigrant. Same thing with passport control in Colombia, if you dont go to the little house with a sigh immigration control to get a stamp, there is noone it check it.

When I got to Colombia, I was as scared as all of you would be, running from one tree to another, always looking around and ready to run in any moment. My rout was heading to San Hill, a little town which I called the capital of COlombians adrenaline sports. I got there safe and sound, with the only thing that made me a bit scared on the way. I was travelling through another town Pomplona, just to make a brief stop between the routs (lonelyplanet was saying that it is quite a pleasant town, though I honestly disagree with this statement, and I am not sure it is worth a visit), and the guy who was selling me a bus ticket was missing half of his direction finger on the right hand. Immediately I remember all the films about kidnapping, and decided to get out of this town as soon as possible. I arrived to San Gill at 10 in the night and stayed in a hostel in a dormetry with lots of backpackers from Europe, Sates and Australia.

San Hill is a nice easygoing colonial town with lots of fruits. Finally after Venezuela I could eat as many fruits as I liked, and half of them I¨ve seen and tried for the first time (though I still have not tased Guanabana, being scared that it might cause an allergic reaction.) And it is true that San Hill is a good spot to do various adrenaline stuff. I did paragliding for the first time. It was so amazing, though the view was also nice to watch, the funnies part was when the guy whom I was paragliding with, got up higher in the sky and then started quickly decending circling around, I honestly believe he turned us nearly upside down, well at leased it seemed so, because I could see the ground and the parashut at the same time. For the next 1 hour I had a nonstopping stupid smile on my face.

The next day 10 people from our hoster including myself went to do rafting on a river wich has 4-5 level lapises. That was also unbelievable fun, though after our instructor told us all the security instruction what to do when you fall out of the boat, I was honestly thinking that it might had been a wrong decision to do it and that I might not be ready for this level of rafting. But our raft was doing great, though we had to overcome 2-3 meter waves, were covered by water, had our raft filled with water, we managed to overcome all the difficultes of 3 hour ride and were celebrating after every successfully passed lapis.

A little bit about people, the hostel was full of americans, europeans and australians, and everyone was really surprised to hear that I am from Russia, because to all of them I was the first Russian they´ve met in south america. In the evenings we went out to get some beer, but because it was the middle of the week it was pretty quite. The funnies thing is that I have to explain everyone that vodka is never drunk with ice, thouse are only foreigners doing it. One of the american guys showed the way he was tought to drink vodka in Colombia. It is called ¨Russian Cocaine¨, which I pretty cool. You take a shot of vodka (thanks god without ice), lime, sugar and coffee. You cover one side of lime with coffee and the other with sugar, leack the side with sugar (or maybe coffee goes first, dont remember exactly), drink the shot and then eat the lime with coffee and sugar like in the tequila drinking process. It is really nice. Try it, you´d love it. Though pour foreigners could not even drink one half of a shot (which is about 50mm) in one go, even though vodka was with water for sure. The next evening when we were in anther bar I made friend with a local Colombian girls working there and the day after with want to the cascades together with her. Ive also visited a close by colonial town Barihara, which is very quite and nice to roam around for a while.

After spending two month in south america, I understand clearly that I want to live here, not in Europe not in Australia, but in Latin America. I love music, I love poeple (I deffinitely get more pleasure from communicating with them than with Europeans, Americans and Australians in general), I love the weather, I love the nature (except for the insects).

And then I was heading to Bogota...where I was planning just to spend the weekend, but will be staying here for 1,5 weeks.

P.S. Some interesting facts on how to judge about the development of the country. Everyone Russian more or less imagines what more than a half of the toilets are like in the bus terminal, in the roads between the cities, and other places like that in Russa. Well both in Venezuela and Colombia I never came across a toilet that was mallfuncioning. Every each of them was clean, with running water, light and closing doors. And no wholes in the flore. Vot tak...

P.S. Just

Posted by TatianaN 17:09 Archived in Colombia Comments (1)

Survive the Roraima

all seasons in one day
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It's been definetely a while since my last entry, but it's also been a while from civilization and then when I had connection I was not capable of typing, but'll write everything in it's own time. So I think I'll split the description of my last three weeks travel into a few parts, with the first part describing our survival of Roraima six day trecking.

Quite interesting but different stages of my travelling are associated mostly not with places, but with people I meet. So Caracas associates with my CS hosts Carlos and Carlos; two weeks waiting for the wind in Margarita with the Austrial couple; and this part of the trip is for sure with a french student, Hadrian from Marseille, I've met on the Island. One day he just appeared in the posada, a funny guy in a panama hat, who was having rumba most of the time (one time I went out with him and his freindes and ended up dancing half of the niight in the bar next to our posada, where the DJ by the end of the night started playing Russian music, which was really nice since I have not heard anything Russia for the past one month), whos goal of the trip to Venezuela was to climb the Roraima. So he just suggested to go the Roraima (Roraima is flat tepui mountain on the border of Venezuela and Brazil about 2800m high) together. I have read about it before, but was not sure of going there, because it is quite far to get to the place and it takes 6 days of tracking, and since it would have been my first ever time tracking, I was not sure I was ready to do it for 6 days. But what the hell, I though, why not going. I had a company, and he is a guy (which is definetely a plus when travelling, because somehow it feels more secure), and he promised to take care of me and in the final end carry me back from the mountain if something happens (of cource like for most french guys it was just talking :)), but it was fun to have him arround and he was able to cheer me up in hard times), so we set off and went.

We had 24 hours to travel to Santa Elena, the city on the border with Brazil from where we could have taken a trip, and we were really lucky with our trip: we set off at 6 in morning, but could not find any taxi, so I appreached the guy from a police unit next to our posada who gave as a lift to the road where we grabbed a cab, then we popped on a 10 o'clock ferry, which arrived 1,5 hours later, but we managed to get on a bus who was leaving in our direction just in 45 minutes, and spent the next 16-17 hours in that bus. Quite funny in the night, when the bus had a stop two guys got on, and when I saw them from the window I though that they were Russian, and they were. They were crossing Venezuela on bikes, I tried to talk to them being really excited to meet someone Russian, but they were a bit arrogant (I would not be that arrogant carrying a plastic bag from Tekhnosila as they did) and feeling so cool of themselves crossing the country on bikes, so I gave up my attempts. Btw later I nearly saved them from starving when I gave them my coockey when they were returning from Roraima without any food left.

We've arrived to the town, talked to different agencies, and on the next day we set off to our 6 days adventure with a group of other 13 people, 10 from Venezuela, a couple from Germany and Czech guy. For people who'd never done tracking, just let me explain what it is like: you are walking for 6-9 hours a day, and also walking under a heavy rain (one day we walked for 12 hours), sleeping in a sleeping bag in a tent, washing in cold mountain rivers, drinking water from same rivers, sometimes starving as being too far from the guides cooking food, baring pain from the blisters, walking even when you can't walk anymore, helping other's even if you need help yourself, but every bit of it being worth it, when you get to the top and scream from the beaty and emotions overwheelming you. We had a great company of Venezuelan guys, and though I could not understand them pretty well, but their jokes and rome helped us last till the end. We are now all saying that we are brothers from Roraima. In total our trip has made 60-80 km (don't know how much for sure), and I made it all with a 10-12 kg backpack on my back. But the true heros of the trip are our guide, whos name is Nestor (was easy or me to remember, and I always wanted to call him Nestor Petrovich (Russian people will understand me :))) and other three porters, who were carrying all food and tents for 15 people plus themselves, so each of them had at least 45-50 kg at their back and all fo them being local indians being my hight about a meter and a half.

I've decided to take it easy the first day as everyone was telling me to do, so I was walking the last one with my own speed enjoying myself taking photos. Nestor was accompanying me all the way (later it turned out that he is always going with the last one). The walk was not too difficult because it was mostly plain and the foot were still fresh. However the clouds covering the sky were not that welcoming and after I've done about a third of the trip it started shower raining. The weather there is just changing every 15 minutes, but mostly it was raining, and when I say raining I mean that there is even less water running from your shower than from the sky over there and there is no escape. But I was doing fine, I had my boots which were supposted to be waterproff, my sailing trouzes and my poncho which covered me all up, so things were not that bad till one moment...We made it to the first camp and since I was the last one the others were already there for an hour, so without stopping we moved on...we crossed the first river, which not that big...had another 30 minutes or so to go...it was getting dark...it started shower raining again...and that's where the problems have started...I tore my poncho, and I started to get wet...we had to cross one more river and it was already twilight...and to get to the river we had to climb down a vertical part of the path with a flud running under our feet...and when we got to the river... it was not as easy as the first one. It was a big mountain river, about 10-12 meter wide, with a fast running water and lot's of rocks. Because it was quite dangerous to cross it, one of the porters took my backpack and I also had to take off my poncho not to slip on it, but all my attempts to keep myself and especially my feet dry were doomed because I just fell into this river when crossing it...and I was all wet...and when I finally got to the camp I found about 25 people just being jammed under a roof of small house with only two walls, with no space enough even to sit...The first day was definetely the worst day of our trip. After I changed into dry closing, had some hot food, things got a bit better...the rain has almost stoped and I was only looking forward to get into the dry tent and fall asleep...but..when we got to the tent it turned out to be leacking, so my french tent mate left me to sleep under the table in the house. So I am sitting there in a tent all alone with light coming only from a small torch light and droppes of water falling on me ready to cry and thinking only about going back...but then a voice of hope came from nowhere in the night, the voice of hope of our guide Nestor, who found out that the tent was leacking and who took me to the house to his tent, gave his dry worm matt. So the first night I was sleepìng in a tent with our pomonque guide, but I did not really care since it was dry and worm and fell asleep right away.

The next days the weather was good to us and it did not rain that much anymore. So we´ve made about 12-15 km going up hill, had lunch on the way, managed to dry some of the closing in the rare time of sun, and made to the second camp before it got dark (and I was not the last one this day). My french friend came the first with the porters and helped them install the tents so he chose the best tent for us which was also dry, things were getting a bit better. And in the night when all of our big company gether under the roof to get some tea to warm up the bottle of rome appeared out of nowhere, which definetely made us warmer that tea. So after about half an hour all the language barriers were errased, we were laughing, telling jokes, singing songs in Spanish, Russia, french, then dancing...It was a night we would all remember when getting together later on, and I am sure I will see these guys some day.

We had one more day ahead of us and we would get on the top of Roraima, but looking on the way we had to make to the top made our knees tremble. It took me about 6-7 hours to make a way of 8 km because it was always going up (and agian I was not the last one ) half of the time climbing the rockes also using hands because the way was nearly vertical. The last part was the most difficult since we had to walking under the fall, called "Tears of an angle", climbe nearly vertically up over the rockes which were just slipping down under your feet, stopping every five minutes because of no more strength left. And then you get on the top...and end up on a different planet of rockes and plantes and views you´ve never seen before...amaizing...one minute I was in a cloud not seing anything within 3 meter from me, and the next moment I was screaming from joy of the beauty I could not believe my eyes when you get to the edge of the mountain...but I think only people who´ve been there will understand me.

The next day we spent on the top of the mountain, with our tents being set in so called "hotels", a formation of rockes that protected us from wind. We explored the top of Roraima, viziting the most amaizing veiw points I´ve seen in my life, and only wishing that we could spend more time there. Since it was already the fourth day without shower we had an opportunity to wash ourselves in a jucuzzii. When you hear the word jucuzzi you imagine something pleasant, warm with bubbles, well that is not exactly what that jucuzzi was..I was a small lake with water being about 15 degree warm and rain pouring from the sky...some of us did dare to get inside...I only washed my head. In the night we went to explore a cave, and since I did not have a torch light other people were lighting my way. Then in the cave we approached a point behind which it was quite dangerous to go, so only guys continued, but I could not stay behind and of cource I went with them...wow...it felt so wild and pervobitno. And we got out of the cave, it felt like being in space as I´ve never seen so many stars in my life. Nestor gave me his light and lead us back to the camp in the dark...he is just a super human.

At first I though the harders part would be to climp on the top...I was really mistaken because the biggest challange was to make the way back. Knees started aiching in about half an hour, and by the time we made it to the bottom of Roraima, they were ready to fell of. And because I was in a group with other victimes of Rormaima (thouse who had blisters, aching ancles, and other staff) we were really slow. However when we came down we had another 15 km to go. This part of the way I was only thinking of home and shelter and being able to do it till the end. We arrived to the camp at 9 in the evening, and before that had to cross those damn rivers now in the full night. This night I was fell dead asleep.

The next day was the last, the weather was amaizing, and by the time we got to the final point (not till the very end, because our guide Nestor came to resque the slowers part of the group on a jeep) I could barely walk. The shower I have taken this day in the hotel was the most pleasant in my life.

That was the end of our adventure (if you want to know how to lose one size in 6 days, I can tell you how), the adventure I will remember for life, but not the end of my trip which continued further on with more stories to tell.

Posted by TatianaN 18:50 Archived in Venezuela Tagged hitchhiking Comments (1)

The three cheapest things you can find in Venezuela

sunny 32 °C

In general the prices are not that low here, but there are three things which are the cheapest in the world.

The first one, and I've already mentioned it, are fake breasts. I was told (not that I was reasearching) that an operation costs about 1000-1500$. Crazy.

The second is petrol. Any ideas how much a liter of petrol costs here? 1 dollar, 50 cents? No, don't even try to guess...For a full tank of petrol, which is about 40 liters, you will pay 70 cents!!! For the whole tank! Unbelievably! This is not a misprint, for the whole tank, not for a liter. After a day of car rental the company even did not charge us anything for the pertol. Can't believe it myself. Local people don't even walk here, they just drive.

And third, are oysters. One day when there was no wind, I went kayaking to mangrove trees lagoon, called la Restina. It was quite fun, because we were going through the tonnels of mangrove trees, sometime having to lye down to the bottom of kayak to go under the trees. Three hours of kayaking and I feel my arms getting stronger. Though for myself it is fun just for one time, since I like speed, and it is not possible to go too fast wth paddling. And oysters just grow on these margrove trees. So we went to the nearby beach and I had 36 oysters paying for it 2.5 dollars. How about that?

So if you want to have new breasts, eat cheap oysters and pay nothing for gasoline, come to Venezuela.

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Link to the photos from Isla margarita http://picasaweb.google.com/TatianaNud/IslaMargarita#

Posted by TatianaN 18:24 Archived in Venezuela Comments (1)

Gone with the wind in Isla Margarita

sunny 32 °C

Now I know that an expression "Zdat y moria pogody" has a very straight meaning, especially when you are kiting or windsurfing. Because that's what I have been doing to the last four days, sitting on the beach and waiting for the wind, which has been gone in two days after I had arrived to Isla Margarita, particularily to do kite-boarding.

Today is a week since I am here, and I've managed to get out in the sea with a kite only twice. I am not calling it kiting because, those two times can be only called a disaster. So on my first day I've talked to all kiteboarding schools on the beach (there are about five) about renting a board and may be getting some suppervision or lession, if I turned out to be quite bad after nearly 2 years break. Surprisingly on a 200 meter long beach the prices vary quite substantially, so I've chose one of the schools (one of the cheapest) and the next day was ready to do kiteboarding.

Oh, have to mention, the place I am staying is called el Yaque, and is considered to be one of the best spots in the world to do kiteboarding and windsurfing, because the water is flat and shallow, and the wind is blowing 10 month a year. The problem is, that now are exectly those 2 monthes when there is no wind. It is quite small, and not much activity to do apart from kiting or windsurfing, but it's really nice. I am staying in a hotel paying about 15 dollars a day per room with aircon, we have a nice teracce facing the sea with a kitchen to cook and nice people staying here.

Back to kiting. The day x had come, the wind was blowing, I was taken up the wind on a boat, given a board...and had an hour of shame. I did not get on the board, and most of the time had to boadydrag to get the board back. Then the chiken loop (the thing that attaches a kite to a harnes) went off (luckily i had a security, so I did not lose the kite), but it was draging me to the see for the next 15 minutes, and I had now strengh to attach it back to myselfs and was only thingking of the boat coming a rescueing me. It did come.

So we've agreed to have a lesson the next day to work on my waterstart. And that was it, then next day the wind was gone, and then the next, and the next, and so. There are two guys, who came partcularily here to learn kitesurfing, so I am affraid they'll have to come back here one more time. On one of the days, with small wind we went out with the boad to have a lesson, but it was also a disaster, because the wing was so weak, that the kite was just luying falt in the water. So the lesson was over without really having started. On the same boat all in all 8 kiters went out (those who can ride), and we had to rescue 5 of them from the water later.

So yeasterday, again no wind, and we've decides with other german girls from our hostel to try wakebaording. I though I would be as hopless, but suprising I stood up on the board from the very first time. And was riding smoothly for the next 10-15 minutes. That was amaizing! I loved it, though it is really hard physically, I had to let go several times just because my hands were too tired, and I could barely walk when I got out to the shore. So today it feels as if I had spent and hour in a gym. Will do it today as well, and it can be an alternative to kiteborading, though still i preffer kiting. However nowI know that I don't have problems with the board, neither do I have problems with the kite, I just have a problem with coordinating it together.

In our hostels stays an interesting couple from Austria. They have crossed the whole South America in 6 month on a motobike. They've showen the pictures from Chile and Argentina, so I just can't wait to get ther. They are at the end of their trip, staying here to do some windsurfing. So on one of the days we've decided to rent a car, and go arroung the island for a day. The cheapest car was Jeep Jimmy, an old suzuki car, without an aircon, who's dores did not close properly and every little bump on a road felt like a huge hole. We were also joing by a guy from Chile, who is quite friendly, but a bit slow thinking and the way he looks and dressed remines me of a sales person from Cherkizovsky rinok. )) So we've visited other beaches, like the one you imagine when thinking of the Carrebean with white sand, palms and cristal clear blue water. Swam in the waves. Before going there, I've read that one of the beaches had good surf, so I've though of moving there for the time when there is no wind, but when we've arrived the waves are not good so I stayed in El Yaque. And for the sunset we went to a town called Juangriego, and first were disappointed because the sun went down, there were clouds and we could not see anything. But then suddenly the sky and the coulds started to get redder and redder every second. I though that sunsets like this exist only in pictures. We just could not take our eyes off it. I'll post the pictures a bit later, they are amaizing, and neither of them used photoshop.

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Today and tomorrow won't be any wind either, so today will be another day of doing nothing and tomorrow I am going for diving.

Posted by TatianaN 08:21 Archived in Venezuela Comments (0)

Some interesting facts about Venezuela

semi-overcast 31 °C
View Travelling around Americas on TatianaN's travel map.

Dollar: First of all, if you ever plan to travel to Venezuela bring only cash, because the situation here with dollars and exchange rate is the same as it was in Soviet Union. No dollars can be accesible in the country, people can't get it in bank, they can exchange it from bolivar to dollars. And the governement fixed the exchange rate at 2.15 bolivers per dollar, however there is also black market rate, which equals 6-7 bolivars per dollar. And the local prices are set in according to the black market rate. So if you go to bank, they'll exchange at the oficial rate, and when you withdraw money from a card, it will be also charged according to the official rate. So the only way to exchange money when you get into the country, is to know someone who might want to buy dollars. (My exchange process was happening in the night in a car in the dark in parking lot.) And local people can't do saving in dollars, they are allowed to have only 2,500$ per year when they travel abroad. They have to go to bank, show lot's of papers that they are travleing, and only afterwards it will be charged to their account. And it is a big pain in the ass, because I did not know it, so the cash that I brough will let me last for another week. So now I am trying to find all the possible ways where to get money from. And I can't receive a Western Union trasfer, because the money will be automatically converted to bolivar at the official rate.

Beauty industry: Venesuela has the largest amount to global beaty quines (they won about 7 Miss of the World). And Venezuela the largest number of brest implantant operations per capita in the world as well. The amount of fake boobs I see here on the beach is just incredible, about every third of a local girl has it. It is quite common here for a 16 year old girl to receive fake breast as a present for a birthday. And the operation is unbeilivably cheap, about 1-1,5 thousand dollars. Btw, it could be good business to bring women from across the world to do their breast here.

Age people can get married: Lot's of girls here have their first child in 16. It is legal for girls to get married at 14 and for boys at 12. What I was also told, that many girls have children without having husbands.

traditional Food: Arepa, a tosted bread out of corn flower filled with everything possible.
Empanadas, same as cheburek, with many other filling apart from mea, also made about of corn flower.
Cachapa, a pancake again from corn flower with some filling as well.

Prices on the Island: Today in the shop they were selling to potatos at about 0.8 cents, which is the same price as for a kilo in Moscow.

Posted by TatianaN 21:41 Archived in Venezuela Comments (1)

Me finding allergic to something that I don't know

semi-overcast 29 °C

Just, running a bit ahead before finishing my story about the visit to Caracas, today when I woke up in Puerta La Cruz on my way to Isla Margarit and looked at my self in the mirrow I got really scared, because my right eye was swallen (not too much, but still not attractive), as if someone had hit me into my eye. Ok, I should not panic i told myself and thought of the reasons why it could have happen and of the next steps that I should take. The only reasone that came into my head was an allergy, but I was never allergic to anything! It can be either one of the two, local moscitos, or guanabana, juice of which have I tried yesterday. And I really hope that it is guanabana, cause I'll be able to live without it for the whole trip and eat other fruits, while with the moscitos, it might be a bit of a problem. The other problem was that I had to get on a ferry and stay there for 4 hours to get to the island, and my credit was not enough to toalk to the isurance company since they always put you on hold.

My dad was able to help me by calling them through, and they called me back, however, what pissed me off, that they don't have a doctor on Isla margarita, and they've just told me to get one, pay for it myself and then claim expenses with the insurance company in Moscow. Come on, I'll be in russia only in ten month, and when I told them to look for another doctor in the closest point to isla Margarita, they just did not call me back. What a typical Russian way to respond. By the time I get back to Caracas, I'll be either dead or healthy.

Well, I won't be dead for sure, and now it has got much better, the swallennes has decreased, so I might not even have to go to a doctor.

The ride on a ferry went smoothly, half of the time I slep and half of the time I've chated with a venezuelan 19 year old student, whom I've met yeasterday in the cue (btw, I had to stay in the cue for 1,5 hours to get a ticket, and yesterday they've said that all the tickets were sold out, however today I found myself in an empty ferry.). To my bigest surprise the guy had blue eyes, but the trik was that his parrents were Itallian.

On the ferry with us was also a boy with a coc, who was shouting all the time (the coc, not the boy). And what local people do, they bring with themselves blankets put them on the flore and just sleep on the flore.

When we arrived it was already dark, but I was willing to take a bus. The drivers said that they were not going to the place I was, but they would drop me out at the entrance to the city (that's what I've thought). But to my surprise they took me out on a turn to the city with another 10 km to go. And there I find myself on a road, luckily not to much empty in the middle of nowhere. Walking 10 km with a bag in the night in Venezuela (even in Isla Margarita, which is fairly safe) was not an option. Luckily there were other cars standing on the same cross road and one of the girls was very helpful with getting me a cap. I find that regardless to all the negative things written about venezual, they are several times more helpful than Russians. So I am finally in a nice pasada in playa del LLaque and the wind seems good for tomorrow.

Posted by TatianaN 20:59 Archived in Venezuela Comments (2)

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