The other day, after dinner, we went out to a local ice cream 'parlor' for dessert.

Looking at all the neon flavors in their freezer burnt containers, in somehow, the 'highest recommended' location, it sort of hits you that Colombians don't really eat ice cream, and therefore, its not very good.

I did the only thing I could. As I was scanning from dark orange 'chocolate' to bright blue 'hell if I know'
I spotted a container that was packed with colors, and by 'packed' I mean what colors may look like after a car accident.

It had pastel chips, chocolate cookie chunks and green swirls collaged in a horrifically murdered rainbow.

"What is that flavor?" I asked the woman in spanish.

"That?" she points, "That is all the cream flavors hand-mixed into one container."

"Perfect, I'll take that one."

It was awful of course, in that, 'I dare you to' sort of way.

In one lick you got chocolate, bubble gum, lime and rum raisin.

Unfortunately we didn't have a camera for photo documentation. So you will just have to imagine the horror, that is, Colombian Ice Cream!



Adventures in Colombian Fruit: Part 4

This is Kuruba

Soft to the touch and pleasant to the nose.
You peel it open like a banana and inside are tons of tiny orange jelly seeds.

Though not nearly as 'fish eyed' as fruit #1, it does bare some resemblance, with its inner white tentacles and crunchy seed center.

But its consistency is more 'wet, over cooked corn kernel', than 'eyeball'. Also the seeds, though crunchy don't taste very stellar.

As long as you tongue the fruit off the seed and spit, it has a pleasant sour citrus flavor.

And as always, blend it with milk and sugar and have it as a juice; because we are fairly certain that not many Colombians actually eat Colombian fruits any other way.


Water in a bag

General rule of thumb: if the locals drink the water, it is probably safe. If they don't, dont even think about it, unless you want to spend your whole vacation in the bathroom. In Taganaga, portable water is found in clear plastic bags, a lot like the cafeteria milk when I was in elementry school, only no straws included.
A bag the size of the one I am drinking in this photo is 100 pesos. That is about 5 US cents.


Finally Pictures!

I know that our descriptive ramblings about `this and that` paint a certian image of what we are doing and where we are, but nothing, really, is as nice as seeing it with your own eyes.
Here friends, enjoy!
Pictures taken without a broken viewfinder.



Last Health Update: hopefully...

I have been asked by various family and friends about my stomach issues and overall health. So this hopefully will be one of the last blogs about this subject.

I haven't gone to a doctor in Colombia, overall I haven't shown any signs to indicate that I need to.
However coming to Colombia did help heal, or at least point out the problem.

I'm almost 90% sure that I have an infected anal fissure.
Due to pain location and symptoms.

The other 10% of me thinks I may have swallowed glass or some random sharp object a few months ago.

I also think I have a dash of IBS, because I can randomly have a sensitive stomach.

Colombia helped because while I was in the rural areas of the caribbean, I tried drinking the water to see if I could handle it.

I couldn't.

The good news is, because of the structural change of my "movements", the pain stopped, and the bleeding stopped.
I have changed to purified bagged water,
(a phenomenon will write about later)
and as my "movements" return to normal the pain is nearly gone.

I guess 'infected' fissure, because normal fissures heal themselves after a few weeks, while my symptoms and pain had been active a bit longer.

The overall treatment of an infected fissure is simple.
Topical ointment (yes I'm doing this)
Salt baths (I swim in the heavily salted ocean almost everyday)
Naturally softening your stools (which the local water did for me).

So there you have it, if any doctors are reading and have other suggestions or still think I need a colonoscopy, please comment, and yes Doctor Moms may comment as well.

Final point, I am finally feeling better.
(For real this time.)
Everything looks normal.
And I think I am on the road to recovery.

- Jameson


Adventures in Colombian Fruit: Part 3

This is Lulo

Immediately, it smells wonderful, probably better than it tastes.
Its flavor is a mix between a slightly bitter kiwi and a tomato. Which makes sense because while it looks like an orange tomato, its rough outer skin feels like a kiwi without the hair.

Though it was refreshing it was a bit difficult to enjoy this fruit fresh. I thought it would taste great de-skinned and put on a sandwich. When this idea was mentioned to the Colombian house keeper she thought we were crazy and told us there is only one use for Lulo.

Turn it into juice.

We should have known.


My job is so small town.

Taganga is an itty bitty beach cove right outside the city of Santa Marta. The rocky cliffs and its boat dotted port make it cute enough to pinch on the cheeks.

This town, for now at least, is founded on tourism, which is why we came. Normally we would avoid anything nick-named 'gringo (white person) paradise', but we wanted hostel work and Taganga is the place.

As of now we are working at a wonderful hostel called 'Oso Perezoso' doing some building and potential baby sitting for the very nice owners. This is more of a temp job though than it is a long term thing. So we will have to continue to search as the handy man and woman work runs out here.

Laney really likes Taganga, she thinks it is chill, slower and isn't a crazy city.

I on the other hand, think it is too small, and while I appreciate the town's quaintness and tranquility, the beach area seems a tad too tourist oriented to me. Especially when you consider the small size of the swimable beach and its waves.
It's no city that's for sure. I get the feeling though that this place has a tendency to grow on you. So I'm counting on that.

Still it is beautiful, the waters are crystal blue and the cliffs have visible shrines to Santa Maria (mother Mary).
We also arrived just in time, this past weekend marked the end of high season.

So now we are some of the only 'gringos' in paradise.

- Jameson


Adventures in Colombian Fruit: Part 2

This is Guanabana.

Its heavy soft body is reminiscent to what an internal organ must feel like. Only this organ is green and has small black spikes.

It is easy to tear open with your hands and unveil the 'fruit'. Besides the small black seeds, the inside is almost all edible.

When you peel the 'fruit' from the inside it feels like you are holding some sort of flesh. It is firm and though easily peeled from the host is hard to split what comes off in your hands. It can only be ripped along the small strand, like millions of strings holding it together.

It has the slimy-ness of an old banana and sort of resembles it in smell as well.

It taste AMAZING, our favorite fruit so far. It is sweet and, pardon any redundancy in description, this is to us a foreign fruit, it has a flavor sort of like combining an almond and a banana with a splash of sweet lime.

You can eat it raw, or you can de-seed it, pull it apart and blend it with milk and a little bit of sugar, to make one of the best tasting smoothies in the world.


This is Cartagena

The city of three faces, old historic face, new beach money face and poverty poor face.

We prefer old face, even though 'centro viejo' (the old center) is a fusion of beautiful historic architecture and overly priced tourist traps. Somehow the well lit colonial balconies that rain ivy, and the decaying concrete walk walls that perimeter the area, out weigh the hard rock cafe and fancy jacuzzi hotels. Seriously jacuzzis are great when it is chilly outside, but it is NEVER chilly outside in Cartagena. This is, at least how I was raised to know the formal, jacuzzi. So for me.
Jacuzzi = tourist trap

Second favorite: baby miami. So, you walk out of 'el centro viejo' and there is this peninsula covered in white high rises. The beaches are pleasant and rocky, you can sit and watch the sunset, eat a mango covered in salt and lime juice. We've done this two days in a row now.

Women will pass by with pails offering massages or with fruit baskets on their heads offering fruit salad.

In the distance you see rich colombians are partying on their yachts listing to techno music and swinging from the masts.

The last face, poor Cartagena we only know because we missed a stop on a bus by about 45 minutes and saw nothing but shanties. Also because the neighborhood we have been staying in is a mix between 'old town' and 'poor town', and full of brothels respectively.
But poor face, is honestly the largest portion of this port city.

We plan to run off tomorrow to a small beach town called Tagana, a few hours north of the city, to find work for a bit and view their reputably gorgeous beaches.
Up, up and away.


Ya vamos.

We left the city of Bogota for the coastal city of Cartegena.

Bogota, was great. We made great friends, had an amazing place to stay and ate tons of fruit and bread based street foods.

Through the busline was innessecarily complicted and a dought lead to three hillside forrest fires we could see from our windows, Bogota's charm shined through in the form of fake plastic Christmas sunflowers.

Though it is wonderful to be on the coast by the ocean, the breeze and historic Spanish forts that fought off pirates, I will keep you in mind Bogota, and return in March.

Next post: Forget Bogota, this is Cartagena.


Adventures in Colombian Fruit: Part 1

This is a Granadilla.

The gooey sweet seeds in the center resemble fish eyes. But once you get past the look and the consistency, they are quit delightful.

The outer "gel" has a banana/orange sort of flavor, while the crunchy seed has a bitter peeled white grape taste.

The tiny white "tentacles" that surround the center try their damnedest to grasp the seeds from your slurping mouth.

The entire experience is like eating a little alien fruit. Which it just so happens to be.


New Year's Eve in Bogota

(Big ole plastic Christmas tree in Plaza Bolivar

Our new year's eve was much more exciting than I had expected. We started the night on a walk down 7th street, covered with lite up flowers and vendors selling cotton candy and roasted corn. Along with all sorts of Colombian couples and families we walked all the way to the city center where the tallest building in Bogota was lit with waving rainbow bulbs. People were selling beer,street food and glow sticks. I asked a police man (note: Bogota is swarming with police) what the drinking in public laws were. He laughed at me at first but then explained that you can walk with an open beverage in you hand but you can't sit down and drink. No wonder he laughed. That's one of the most ambiguous laws I've ever heard of. "Sorry officer I'm not really sitting drinking, I'm just resting for a moment on my 9 o'clock beer jog.

Supposedly you can just pay the police to leave you alone. Of course there is good and bad that comes with authority. We have only encountered good police here, one gave us a handful of grapes after the countdown. Tradition has it that you eat something like 12 grapes and for each one you eat you make a wish for the new year. I only ate three grapes, we all had to share the handful.

Jameson and I ended up drinking a bottle of wine (secretly because we were sitting) in a park hillside full of christmas lights formed in the shapes of squirrels, mushrooms, elves and all other kinds of trippy stuff.

The hill overlooked a big public concert stage. At 12am fireworks burst out the top of the large rainbow building and the band played the Colombian national anthem.

We made some friends in the park. A Spanish-Colombian couple who insisted on walking us home to make sure we arrived safely to our hostel. It seems like the older people in the city are still very wary of the places dangerous past. Younger people shrug off questions like "can we go out after dark if there are only two of us?" They say "yes, of course!" This older couple we met was not so. They ended up freaking me out a bit with stories of mugging. Things get in your head after someone says it a few times. But two of my three grape wishes were that we would stay safe during our stay here.

Our new friends ended up taking us out to a little cuban hole in the wall bar where we drank two bottles of the anis flavored liquor which everyone drinks here. The wife, Raquel showed me how to shuffle around seductively to cuban music. She also taught Jameson how to dance with his hips. Then he showed her how to dance with everything but your hips.

It was a good night. It's Jan.1, 9:30pm and people everywhere are still setting off fireworks, getting drunk, and eating meat on sticks.