Jardín to Salento

Jardín

My last hours in the town of Jardín are nice. I spend my time wandering around and relaxing at tables spread out in the square. I’ll grab a beer or two and people watch during the day but this behavior doesn’t seem to be normal. Not many people are day drinking and the ones who do are mostly males; most people drink coffee or other beverages during daylight hours.

I tried to connect to the public WIFI a number of times but I am never successful.

I finally wake up early my last morning to take pictures in town. My photos aren’t the greatest but at least I don’t have all the shadows of the daytime. I enjoy watching the town wake up. The garbage collectors are out and they have a trail of dogs waiting for trash to spill out along the way.

I make one last stop at a cafe to get a coffee and a pastry before it is time for my bus to leave.

I loved my stay in Jardín but I must be moving on. I have one more small town to visit before I go to Cartagena to meet my friend in a couple days. Right now I am heading to the town of Salento.

When I booked my bus ticket I was under the impression that I would be taking a fun chiva part of the way. However the bus company I chose uses regular coaches for the journey. I am disappointed but I did learn that the chiva buses are quite uncomfortable so maybe I did make the correct choice.

chiva bus
chiva bus

This is my actual ride….

The bus ride is relatively comfortable. I mostly have the row to myself but occasionally have to let another passenger sit next to me. A man enters a bus with a burlap-like sack tapered at the top. I hear a loud qui-qui-ri-qui coming from the bag (Spanish for cock-a-doodle-doo). We are sharing the bus with a rooster – well a rooster in a bag. He is very vocal today, as heard in the video below.

One of our rest stops

Today is a long journey of two bus rides. The first bus travels from Jardin to Riosucio on a 3-4 hour journey (with a couple health stops).

We have a bit of a layover in Riosucio. Luckily there are other friendly travelers taking the same journey. I am able to leave my bag with them to go buy a snack. It is nice to have a few people to trust enough to leave your heavy bag with; I of course return the favor. From the nearby café I pick up some empanadas, cheese bread, and the most amazing pastry called Pasteles de Arequipe (Dulce de Leche Turnovers). Sounds like a healthy lunch to me!

Bus number 2

The second bus ride is another long journey (3-4 hours). I nap a bit but I do enjoy the scenery on the way. There is no rooster on this leg of the journey!

I finally arrive in Salento. The bus station is at the bottom of a hillside. According to my map my lodging is not too far away. I walk a little uphill and a couple blocks over to my hotel Casa Olier Hotel which is more like a bed and breakfast that has its own chocolate factory! I picked a great place to stay. Again it is a little more than I would normally pay but since it is my last month traveling why not?

View from my window

After my hotel check in I walk to the town center. The town is built on hills so there is much walking up hill during my visit. I head to the town square and order dinner. I have a dog companion waiting for his share.

Salento, Colombia
The signature dish of Salento, Colombia, is trucha con patacones— trout with mashed, fried plantains
Feed Me Please!

I wander around the lively town at night. I tried to have a cocktail at one bar but some rude dog is hogging the seats.

It is a long travel day so I head back to my hotel. Tomorrow I visit a finca or coffee plantation.

Salento Streets at night. Things seem pretty safe here.

Jardín: Gallitos de Roca (Cock of the Rock)

Where are all my ladies?

This afternoon I am heading to the Parque Natural Jardín de Rocas where I can witness the Gallitos de Roca (rare and unique birds). They come to this reserve looking for female birds to mate with. The English translation is Cock of the Rock (I’ll just leave that there with no further comment).

The reserve is located not to far from the bridge I crossed previously for another hike .

The park doesn’t open until the late afternoon because you will only see the males performing in the early evenings.

The lady who runs the park is very nice. She tells me of all the great places to go for bird observation.

I don’t have to go far because there are already birds hanging out in the tree right next to me.

I find a place along the observation boardwalk and wait.

I am glad I brought my telephoto lens with me because while the birds are close by, they aren’t close enough to get decent photos with the diffused lighting.

We sit quietly and wait for the males to fly in and start singing for a lover. They are loud. I can’t see how the females would be attracted to that but what do I know.

Don’t you think I’m cute???

After viewing the birds I chat with some other travelers outside the preserve. They give me some helpful advice on my next town. The Colombia traveling community is small but very supportive.

I head back into town and have a nice dinner at Óleo Bistró Restaurante.

Tomorrow I head to Salento. I love my time in Jardin and would stay longer but for once I scheduled just the right amount of time in a city. I definitely would not mind returning some day.

Jardín: Hike to Christ

Another day in Jardín (Antioquia, Colombia) so I decide to take another short hike but this time to a Christ statue on a hill.

The town looks beautiful this morning as I head out for my hike.

Where I am going today is up the hill to see the large statue of Jesus (Seen as the little white thing in the photo below).

See the Jesus on the middle left.

The path is straight ahead and not clearly marked. I only know it is the correct path because of website that created a great guide to the area (fortunately I found the link to their website intentional travelers – they are so helpful).

The trail begins as a steep decline downhill on a rock trail. I am glad I am wearing my hiking boots again.

A kitten comes by to greet me before I start my hike.

I don’t really see many others around once again today. Traveling in Colombia is quiet compared to visiting other countries. Normally the isolation would have me worried about my safety but for some reason I feel safe here.

I come to a large moss covered tree. The tree is beautiful and reminds me of home.

I come to a little wooden bridge and cross a stream.

The area around the stream looks like a nice place to picnic during the day.

It is not clearly marked but I notice a rough path going uphill. I am thankful that it is both dry and that I am wearing my hiking boots. The steps are challenging for my shorter legs.

Looking down below. I see other hikers!
Town off in the distance

I arrive to a gate. There is no sign but it is not locked. I open the gate and walk through, hoping I am not tresspassing.

I am at some sort of summit. I stop and take in the views. There are large beautiful black birds flying to and fro.

I walk past banana trees. The path I am on is clearly used but very rough. I see another couple hiking around so I know I am in the right place.

Eventually I arrive to the area that contains the statue. There is a restaurant or café that appears to closed but a gate is ajar. A tour guide has entered into the viewing area with some tourists; I assume since he is there then it is ok to enter. I grab a seat and enjoy the view for a while.

At some point it looks like the owner shows up. I pack up my things in anticipation of getting asked to leave but he doesn’t seem angry we are there. I don’t stay long anyway.

restaurant up top
seating with view of town below
Finally the view, from below it looks like there used to be gondola system. It doesn’t seem to be operational.
A directional sign! Don’t see many of these.

I think there are other trails up here somewhere but I end up just heading back the way I arrived.

Trail goes on? Who knows?
The Moss tree again

It doesn’t take me long to arrive back in town. It is still early so I take the time to visit the inside of the beautiful town church.

I love the tiles and the ceiling colors.

I head back to my hotel to freshen up and rest. I’ll head out later to see some birds at dusk. More on that later.

Te Papa Museum

I am still in Wellington New Zealand for one more day. I have heard good things about the Te Papa Museum so that is today’s destination.

First I stop for a fancy breakfast and coffee.

The museum is in walking distance from my hotel so I stroll around town on the way there.

I am obsessed with these crossing lights. The stop is a man and the go is a lady. I am the weirdo taking pictures of the walk signal.

Te Papa museum is by the water.

The first section I visit is the Nature section, or the section dedicated to things natural to New Zealand such as volcanos, earthquakes and birds and other wildlife.

I am obsessed with this slimy sucker, something out of a science fiction movie.

And of course I have to check out the kiwis, birds I still have not seen alive.

And some bigger dumb birds with little or no arms.

The star of this exhibit is the humongous squid. It is what nightmares are made of.

It’s the biggest colossal squid ever caught! 

There is a very impressive Maori exhibit. (For the most part photos are not allowed inside). I learned many things about the Pacific peoples who came to inhabit New Zealand. I even tried to learn some new words

Rongomaraeroa Te Marae (communal meeting place)

I loved the section that contained portraits of Maori tattoos. The exhibit explained the meaning behind the tattoos. They were beautiful to see.

Kaleidoscope: Abstract Aotearoa

The modern art exhibit bursts with color.

While at the Weta Workshop yesterday I heard our guide mention the Gallipoli exhibit at the Te Papa. The workshop is responsible for designing the characters from this exhibit that shows the struggle troops from New Zealand dealt with during World War I.

It is also at this museum that I learn that I can probably never immigrate to New Zealand due to my “advanced age”. Maybe I’ll end up in a highly desired employment someday or some cute kiwi wants to help give me citizenship 😉

After the museum I stop at Mr Go’s restaurant for some Asian dishes.

I wander some more around town.

And stop for one last beer at Fortune Favours at their nice upstairs taproom.

It is back to the hotel for me to pack up and get back on the road tomorrow. I head next to Rotorua.

More Sydney

In Sydney our hotel isn’t too far from the Royal Botanic Gardens so we end up walking past it a few times during our visit. We finally take the time to book a garden tour. I do love being introduced to new types of plants. The climate in Sydney seems to be similar to Florida so it makes sense that I see some of the same sorts of plants I have seen back home. The garden has some fun and different ones as well that are native to Australia only.

When you have just given up collection in the bookstore #forevercatlady
Brachychiton rupestris or bottle tree
Hard to see but this tree is full of parrots.
Fun old Fig Tree

Manly Beach

Another day we take the ferry out to Manly Beach. We must be taking the slower ferry because we see the fast ferry pass us by.

The ferry drops us off and we walk through a district with shopping and restaurants to get to the beach.

We view Manly beach but walk on to another beach

We end up at another beach called Shelly Beach. The sand is basically broken shells and they are beautiful. The water is very cold but I love it. I walk out cautiously so I don’t slip on the shelf of rocks.

We don’t stay long since we aren’t much for sunbathing and the water is a little too cold for my family. We walk back towards the ferry and see a fun lizard on the way.

Manly Beach

Before hopping on our ferry back we stop at Betty’s Burgers for a yummy burger and some fries.

The next day we take an Aboriginal walking tour. For some reason I put down my camera during the tour but the guide, an aboriginal guide, takes us on a tour of the area near the Rocks and informs us of history and customs of his people. He shows medicinal uses of local plants. We learn about totems, a natural object, plant or animal that is inherited by members of a clan or family as their spiritual emblem. They are tasked with protecting that totem. We are told about how it is a rite of passage for a boy to carve a canoe out of a tree. It is a great tour.

Our last day is spent lazily. We could have left town for the day to view the mountains but the brushfires have made those activities dangerous at this time. We wander around some of Sydney. I check out some street markets.

Steps near our hotel

I leave Australia tomorrow for some time in New Zealand. My aunt will be joining me for a couple days of exploring. We are both excited about visiting what we think will be a beautiful country.

I say goodbye to my cousins hoping to see them soon when they make a trip to the USA next summer. Note: They are not able to visit USA this year (2020) due to covid outbreak. Unfortunately we’ll have to wait longer to see them in person again.