Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Down the Road to Cartagena, Colombia

Over the holidays I had another travel experience which I have been asked to write about. The idea of this trip was to have our family travel together by road so that I\we could see the Colombian countryside. Danger? That is what I was initially told but after research, I found it to be safe statistically, that is, if all the data was on the platter. So here is another episode of "On the road again".  We traveled by bus - an 11 hour trip from Maracaibo, Venezuela to Cartagena, Colombia.

Nearing the border with Colombia, we began heading along the coast in the country of the Guajro, the native people of this area.

One is not likely to be greatly enamored with this dry and hot area, although the ocean water is great. This arid marshy sand is full of cactus and dry brush.

Traditionally, as in most of South America, the color of a home is important and preferred tones are soft.

In pueblos such as these, the towns wake up early and people are outside working.

The Guajira woman will wear her traditionally full length dress, often very colorful.

As you might expect, there are cows, goats, donkeys and horses along the side of the road, often not tied to anything. The road is only two lanes.

People are on the move along the highway to commercial markets in nearby pueblos on their bicycles, motorcycles, donkey carts, ... any means of transportation possible. You have to be able to tolerate the frequent honk of the horn, as the bus driver warns everyone and thing alongside his side of the road. No one seemed to be annoyed at the noise.

When finally reaching the border, we had to do the normal paperwork to leave Venezuela and our bags were opened to look at everything inside. After exiting Venezuela, we had to walk about 100 yards in "no mans land" to arrive at the Colombian border, where we would go through customs ad immigration there. Colombia was much easier and laid back than Venezuela. After getting the passport stamped,  we were welcomed by this sign. No more checkpoints. I felt much freer in Colombia.

Down the road, the terrain became much more green and lush. As you can see, this toll road is in excellent condition.

In the pueblos, one would see vegetable markets and peddlers like this one, selling ice cream or fruit drinks. Lemonade is a popular roadside drink. 

The military were certainly present, conducting an exercise. We saw tanks and infantry everywhere.

As the day progressed, we began to see mountains in the distance.

And the terrain just kept getting better with deep greens combined with creeks and rivers.

Now the land became a jungle. This is the area near where we stopped for lunch.

But first we would start to see the Caribbean again. The coral blues were outstanding and provided a fresh look at the world as we were discovering it here in Colombia.

Bus driver - cant we stop here for a while????? Please!!! Darn... on with the trip ...

One thing for sure - we saw many children outside and families along the way on this fairly busy road.

Now we found ourselves amongst the Plantain farms.

And those crops are for sale along the road, like they are everywhere in this part of Colombia.

Finally we arrive for lunch on a river in the high peaks of these hills or "mountains". A beautiful cool place.

After taking a look at our options, we elected grilled chicken. Don't eat the lettuce I was told.

Our journey takes us on further to the north through more mountains.

And the terrain becomes less hospitable as we approach Cartagena.

But there was this beautiful yellow bloomer all about the countryside, to make the trip more enjoyable. I saw hawks and bald eagles along the route also. The eagles were a surprise to me.

Sometimes I thought about the power lines and how much more beautiful this world would be without them.

Finally - arrival in Cartagena, the ancient walled city.

Perhaps I should footnote the photos - in these travels, rarely did I have the opportunity to photograph something while not moving at a very fast speed, shooting through dirty bus windows.  I made the photography challenge my project as we traveled.

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