D-I-V-O-R-C-E
Remember obelisks? Those weird all-condiment street snacks featuring cheese, caramel and jam?
Welllll.
They actually stem from a sit-down dessert called Divorce, which is a chunk of cheese, mixed with a pile of caramel, topped with some raspberry sauce. It sounds odd, but it was pretty damn amazing. You’d think you’d want to throw a neutral element in there, like bread or a cracker, but really you don’t. The saltiness from the cheese, sourness of the jam, and sweetness of the caramel (aka arequipa/dulce de leche) is perfecto.
I kinda wonder why it isn’t called Triple Marriage.

D-I-V-O-R-C-E

Remember obelisks? Those weird all-condiment street snacks featuring cheese, caramel and jam?

Welllll.

They actually stem from a sit-down dessert called Divorce, which is a chunk of cheese, mixed with a pile of caramel, topped with some raspberry sauce. It sounds odd, but it was pretty damn amazing. You’d think you’d want to throw a neutral element in there, like bread or a cracker, but really you don’t. The saltiness from the cheese, sourness of the jam, and sweetness of the caramel (aka arequipa/dulce de leche) is perfecto.

I kinda wonder why it isn’t called Triple Marriage.

View from Monserrate in Bogota. You basically take a funicular (one of those always-facing-upward train cars like Suzanne Somers has) way way way the F up onto a hill overlooking the city, where there’s a church.

A lot of cities in South America have random way-up-high, out-of-town religious sites with magnificent views like this (though Bogota’s is one of my favorites). We got to take it in at dusk. 

I think someone explained to me its because indigenous tribes, from a variety of old civilizations, liked to build places of worship very high up (to be closer to the gods in the sky? to avoid destruction in battle? Not sure.) But either way, when the Spanish came, they wanted to convert everyone to Catholicism, so they would usually destroy these points of worship and convert them to churches.

View from Monserrate in Bogota. You basically take a funicular (one of those always-facing-upward train cars like Suzanne Somers has) way way way the F up onto a hill overlooking the city, where there’s a church.

A lot of cities in South America have random way-up-high, out-of-town religious sites with magnificent views like this (though Bogota’s is one of my favorites). We got to take it in at dusk. 

I think someone explained to me its because indigenous tribes, from a variety of old civilizations, liked to build places of worship very high up (to be closer to the gods in the sky? to avoid destruction in battle? Not sure.) But either way, when the Spanish came, they wanted to convert everyone to Catholicism, so they would usually destroy these points of worship and convert them to churches.

Colombian BBQ.
Pictured here we have a steak that was very tasty but a little tough in texture, a sausage that was like heaven in an intenstine, some potatoes covered in a sour sauce, the best arepas I have ever, ever tasted (they weren’t too sweet, they were a bit crispy on the outside, and they were slathered in salted butter, UGH SO GOOD), some guacamole, and I forget what was in that little sauce container. Mmmm.
For the record, as far as BBQs go, here is my official country-by-country ranking:
1. Argentina. Obviously.
2. Colombia. Yep, I said it.
3. Brazil. Delicious but also loaded with landmines, like questionable cuts of meat including tongues and random undesirable intenstines.
4. Ecuador (Because they used seafood)
5. Peru. Mas o menos. Tasty grilled chicken.
6. Bolivia. Stick to saltenas and freshwater fish, B.

Colombian BBQ.

Pictured here we have a steak that was very tasty but a little tough in texture, a sausage that was like heaven in an intenstine, some potatoes covered in a sour sauce, the best arepas I have ever, ever tasted (they weren’t too sweet, they were a bit crispy on the outside, and they were slathered in salted butter, UGH SO GOOD), some guacamole, and I forget what was in that little sauce container. Mmmm.

For the record, as far as BBQs go, here is my official country-by-country ranking:

1. Argentina. Obviously.

2. Colombia. Yep, I said it.

3. Brazil. Delicious but also loaded with landmines, like questionable cuts of meat including tongues and random undesirable intenstines.

4. Ecuador (Because they used seafood)

5. Peru. Mas o menos. Tasty grilled chicken.

6. Bolivia. Stick to saltenas and freshwater fish, B.

One of the biggest tourist attractions around Bogota is the Zipachira Catedral de Sal, or Salt Cathedral. It’s basically a giant—MASSIVE—church built until a salt mine. We took a bus over there, trekked through town and up a hill, and ended up underground for around five hours.

It was a full day, basically.

For some reason I was being a wimpy baby about climbing the staircase.
The Cathedral itself was epic and majestic. Everything was blue and shimmery from the salt. And also the neon mood lighting they had going.

Sometimes people get married down here. Which, I guess one pro would be the weather is definitely not an issue. One con would be YOU’RE IN A FREAKING MINE!

We watched a 3D movie and decided to take the special not-religious mining tour, where we got to wear helmets with little lights!

We also learned how to hack away at salt walls with pick axes; we peed our pants walking through a pitch black tunnel with our lights off. We didn’t understand the Spanish instructions but some kind strangers explained to us that any kind of light or high pitched noise (like a cell phone) could damage the tunnel (why do they have tunnels that are that precarious? I don’t get it.) So we had to feel our way through the darkest dark I’ve ever experienced. IIIIIII’m pretty sure I grabbed the hand of a stranger to get me through it.

One of the biggest tourist attractions around Bogota is the Zipachira Catedral de Sal, or Salt Cathedral. It’s basically a giant—MASSIVE—church built until a salt mine. We took a bus over there, trekked through town and up a hill, and ended up underground for around five hours.

It was a full day, basically.

For some reason I was being a wimpy baby about climbing the staircase.

The Cathedral itself was epic and majestic. Everything was blue and shimmery from the salt. And also the neon mood lighting they had going.

Sometimes people get married down here. Which, I guess one pro would be the weather is definitely not an issue. One con would be YOU’RE IN A FREAKING MINE!

We watched a 3D movie and decided to take the special not-religious mining tour, where we got to wear helmets with little lights!

We also learned how to hack away at salt walls with pick axes; we peed our pants walking through a pitch black tunnel with our lights off. We didn’t understand the Spanish instructions but some kind strangers explained to us that any kind of light or high pitched noise (like a cell phone) could damage the tunnel (why do they have tunnels that are that precarious? I don’t get it.) So we had to feel our way through the darkest dark I’ve ever experienced. IIIIIII’m pretty sure I grabbed the hand of a stranger to get me through it.

Bogota is known for its Museo del Oro, aka Gold Museum, and, well, there’s a lotta gold up in there. It’s in the building of an old bank, which would be impressive on its own if I didn’t go “behind the scenes” of a bank vault every weekend at the Brooklyn Flea, a BK flea market held at the beautiful and also phallic Williamsburg Bank Building near my apartment. Annnnyways.
We were fully expecting to encounter a Scrooge McDuck-style Gold room with a diving board over a bottomless pit of doubloons.

We were, perhaps needless to say, disappointed. (Also: I stand corrected—its not bottomless,” but in fact 90 feet deep.)
On another barely related sidenote, I cannot count the number of times, in my career as a private equity blogger, I have used the above image to illustrate a story. I would guess upwards of 15 times over 2 years. That is a LOT of Duck Tales references for a professional publication, and I just want to put it out there: I’m proud of that stat.
BACK TO THE GOLD.

So Colombians used gold for a lot of shit because they were rolling in it, and they would often dump a ton of it into the middle of lakes as an offering to Gods and also to honor earthen royalty. They also wore a tooooon of that shit to the grave. I think I remember reading that the Spanish kinda pillaged some dead bodies for it even. Which, imperialism. Yeesh.

Bogota is known for its Museo del Oro, aka Gold Museum, and, well, there’s a lotta gold up in there. It’s in the building of an old bank, which would be impressive on its own if I didn’t go “behind the scenes” of a bank vault every weekend at the Brooklyn Flea, a BK flea market held at the beautiful and also phallic Williamsburg Bank Building near my apartment. Annnnyways.

We were fully expecting to encounter a Scrooge McDuck-style Gold room with a diving board over a bottomless pit of doubloons.

We were, perhaps needless to say, disappointed. (Also: I stand corrected—its not bottomless,” but in fact 90 feet deep.)

On another barely related sidenote, I cannot count the number of times, in my career as a private equity blogger, I have used the above image to illustrate a story. I would guess upwards of 15 times over 2 years. That is a LOT of Duck Tales references for a professional publication, and I just want to put it out there: I’m proud of that stat.

BACK TO THE GOLD.

So Colombians used gold for a lot of shit because they were rolling in it, and they would often dump a ton of it into the middle of lakes as an offering to Gods and also to honor earthen royalty. They also wore a tooooon of that shit to the grave. I think I remember reading that the Spanish kinda pillaged some dead bodies for it even. Which, imperialism. Yeesh.

God I love you Bogota.

God I love you Bogota.

Mojito night at Destino Nomada in Bogota! Featuring Daniel^^

Gabi^

Mary^

Travis^

Erin^

and Lucy.
Yep. Hot.

Mojito night at Destino Nomada in Bogota! Featuring Daniel^^

Gabi^

Mary^

Travis^

Erin^

and Lucy.

Yep. Hot.

Does Mary Peffer look like a bitch? Then why you tryin’ to fuck her like one? 
One of the highlights of the end of our trip was a too-brief visit from our friend Mary! After three months of oft-aimless travel, Travis and I were refreshed when she showed up with a detailed spreadsheet of activities to do. It was a perfect flurry of activity and boost of motivation for Travis’ last stop and my last human interaction for basically a week.
We ate a ton, drank a mostly appropriate, not-obscene amount, and read Self magazine aloud at bedtime. (cRaZy I kNoW!!)

Does Mary Peffer look like a bitch? Then why you tryin’ to fuck her like one?

One of the highlights of the end of our trip was a too-brief visit from our friend Mary! After three months of oft-aimless travel, Travis and I were refreshed when she showed up with a detailed spreadsheet of activities to do. It was a perfect flurry of activity and boost of motivation for Travis’ last stop and my last human interaction for basically a week.

We ate a ton, drank a mostly appropriate, not-obscene amount, and read Self magazine aloud at bedtime. (cRaZy I kNoW!!)

Fiiiinally I have a few photos from Mary’s Bogota visit! Get ready!

Fiiiinally I have a few photos from Mary’s Bogota visit! Get ready!

Jurassic Park

[The second part of my North Colombian “detox” story was my insane Lost City trek, which I’ve already described. (Part one was adventure time in San Gil.) The third and element of my solo traveling in Colombia was Parque Tayrona.] 

After the Lost City all I wanted was a hot shower and a night’s sleep in anything but a hammock. And maybe also some way to exfoliate all that DEET offa me. 

But because of time constraints, I went straight on to Tayrona National Park, also known as Jurassic Park, also known as “The Island” from Lost. I headed there with two British guys from the trek and once we got there we realized, what the f were we thinking?

We just return from six days of hiking and sleeping outdoors in rainy, uncomfortable, jungle, only to RETURN to it AGAIN? We had to hike for at least an hour just to get to our campsite, and once we got there, it was another no-shower, hammock sleeping situation! (And the hammocks were way too close together, when one person shuffled in the night, all 30 of the other hammocks shook). And of course, it poured half the time. Damn monsoon season. 

But the landscape was really wonderful and I got to get a bit of a sunburn after a few chilled out days on the quiet beaches.

The highlight was the mirador, where our hammocks were located. 

See that little hut atop the rocks jutting out into the ocean? YEAH! I slept there!

Deadly(ish) San Gil

After a month of Adventures in Bartending and Late Nights in Bogota, I needed a detox. I found one in the north of Colombia, first with a stop in San Gil, the country’s “adventure” capital. 

I stayed in a craphole of a hostel (note: most hostels in Colombia are not “indoors”—all the rooms basically open to a central patio with no roof. So you’re exposed to the elements, be it rain, freezing cold, or just obnoxious drunk 19 year olds from Manchester. There is simply no such thing as indoors.)

But anyways, the hostel was cool because I made friends with a group of kids there, and the owner, who knew Oscar, my Bogota hostel’s owner, was extra welcoming for my first solo traveling stop. 

Every morning I ate a massive fruit salad covered in gooey sweet white sauce and shredded queso blanco for ONE FREAKING DOLLAR. I love cheap, weird Colombian fruit. Like have you ever heard of a Lulo fruit? How about a Tree Tomato? Or maybe a peach imitator that, when you take a bite, looks on the inside like a cherry and tastes like a pear? Yep. Weird shit. 

My friends and I hiked (in flip flops, this adds approximately 1 hour to every scheduled 2 hours of hiking) to a charming little colonial town.

We drank Chicha corn beer which was so sour it must have turned bad months ago and ate some gross lemony taffy crap that almost pulled a tooth out.

Upon embarking on our return hike, we were caught in a downpour and had to hitch a ride in the back of a truck to get home.

Even though there were spiders in my bed I slept brilliantly to the sound of rain. 

THEN. 

We hiked to a waterfall, which was wonderful and powerful and freezing.

It was a little scary climbing around a bunch of makeshift rope ladders in slippery bare feet in the middle of nowhere with basically no supervision or authority in an hour’s walk.

But in reality that was nothing:

Later that day, A SNAKE BIT PETER IN THE FOOT. 

Peter is the token Dutch dude from our little traveling crew. So after the snake bite we all kindof panicked and decided to return to civilization. Except when we got there and asked the one human being within miles if he was going to die, the dude just shrugged.

Peter: “Hey, I was bitten by a snake!”

Dude: (Shrug) “It’s cool man, no big deal.”

Peter: “How do you know that? Could it be poisonous?”

Dude: “Nooo no, you’re fine.”

Peter: “Uhm, are you sure? Don’t you know want to know what it looked like? Or see where it bit me?”

Dude: “Nah.”

Peter:  “Well It was a big red and black snake! And it bit me on the foot!”

Dude: “Heyyy, tranquiiiilo man.” (Passive aggressive Spanish for “chill the eff out.”)

So, I mean, ok. He didn’t die. El Tranquilero wins I suppose. When we finally returned to San Gil, we found out our OTHER friend had been in the hospital all day because he was attacked by a DOG! I should also mention here that I myself was attacked by a furry caterpillar but that injury, while seriously itchy, healed up much more quickly. 

Then we ate roasted ants for dinner. It’s a local delicacy. 

Nice and crunchy. 

The next day Peter and I rode on motos to my first ever caving experience. Dude. This shit is crazy. We waded through murky, freezing cold water to our necks wearing helmets and headlamps. At one point, the tour guide pulled a rope ouy from the water, handed it to me, and said, “OK, we’re going to swim under this rock wall by pulling ourselves on this rope. If you’re underwater for more than 7 seconds, you’re doing it wrong.” 

Like, what? Oooooookay!

We crawled on our elbows through water and muck, we swam through lakes and rinsed ourselves under waterfalls, we waded through what felt like knee-high shit and frolicked across boulders.

I voluntarily covered myself in mud for the second time in a month.

And I ruined my Toms once and for all. We checked out bats, spiders, stalagtites/mites, and various other cavery.

And basically we emerged from the cave two hours later feeling both confused and energized. 

So, San Gil was cool. 

So we went to this famous mud volcano outside of Cartagena.

Travis, Ben and I followed the crowd as they climbed this unstable looking, muck-filled pile of dirt and jumped on in. 

I asked several people involved with the operation why people do this. They kept saying “It’s therapeutic, its good for you.” I would ask, “How?” and was answered pretty much every time with a more enthusiastic, “GOOD FOR YOU!” So I thought maaaybe the entire thing was an elaborate ruse being played on tourists. Like, hey, why don’t we fill this weird, inactive volcano with human feces, then get tourists to PAY US to roll around in it? HILARIOUS. 

It was basically another one of those wonderful South American “don’t ask questions, just watch what happens” experiences. First a dude takes your camera out of your hand. Then he basically pushes you into the muck, which is creepily warm. Then the muck men start massaging you and parking you in various corners until the whole mountain  looks like its going to fully saturate and just collapse in one big pbbbbbtttthhhhh motion. But it doesn’t, and all the little muddy creatures of the lagoon are ushered down the mountain to a swamp where ladies throw buckets of water at you and untie your bikini top (seriously, saw lots of muddy boobs). Then you get a slice of watermelon. 

The weirdest part was the texture of the mud (or poop maybe?). It was gelatinous, and when I boldly reached my foot down deeper, there was no bottom. But I couldn’t sink. So you’re basically suspended in it, which explains why everyone in the video is flailing and slithering around weightlessly in this odd, pudding-like substance. A substance we spread all over our faces and hair and knees and chests and stomachs. Without really knowing why.