Month: November 2007

San Agustin

24 Nov – Hungover in Popayan.  Slept/laid-feeling-sorry-for-myself until 1pm or so.  Then, walked around town.  Returned to the same restaurant I’d had dinner at the previous night – discovering it was run/owned by one of the chaps I’d been drinking with later in the night.  Struggled down some food, and lots of juice.  Then, just wandered the central city some more.  Pretty and white.  Everything is white.  Then, some internet in order to write the previous update – and then got spotted by the bar owner.  So – some get-better cervezas.  Started chatting with some of the owner’s friends.  Eventually left.  Just to jot down some notes from the hostel wall – left by other travellers with tips on hostels in San Agustin, and which guides are thieves, and which are good.  Including the guy who goes by the name of Jerry Lewis – and sees a hidden penis in every single one of the statues.

Then, dinner.  At fancy looking place.  Ordered the Argentinian Churrascaria.  Looking forward to good, well-cooked steak – and other tasty bits of well barbequed meat.  I got a Colombian steak, and a potato.  The potato did have a slice of cheese in the middle.  So that was nice.  But the steak.  Tenderised for starters.  A decent piece of steak shouldn’t need to be tenderised, for jeebers’ sake.  So, I ate as much as I could, and ran off to my new local bar.  And drank cerveza until I could drink no more.  Then – bed time, and no hallucinations.  Or ghosts – which is another theory which came to me later to explain the odd occurence the previous night.

25 Nov –  Slept in more than I intended, but managed to check out and get to the bus station in time for a decently-timed bus to San Agustin.  San Agustin is only 130km away, but the journey takes over 6 hours.  This is solely due to the condition of the road.  Good fun.  Old old Chevy bus – with brightly decorated front dashboard/entire wall.  Very bumpy road.  Top speed of 30km/hr.  I know this, because buses here have little LED displays with the current speed of the bus.  Buses all through the continent have them – but Colombia is the first place where they’ve actually worked.

The nature on the sides of the road was beautiful.  To describe just how beautiful – it looked exactly, EXACTLY, like New Zealand.  Down to individual plants.  Kinda cool.   But, eventually we got to San Agustin.  Picked up a couple of gringo girls on the road about 5km out.  They’d caught another bus which didn’t actually go through San Agustin – but just dropped them off there.  And assured them another bus would be through some time, that they wouldn’t have to pay for.  I think I got lucky with my ‘choice’ of bus.  Anyway, the girls and I ended up going to the same hostel together.  Met two english guys and a frenchman.  The girls are english and swiss.  And we discover that we’ve arrived on the first day of a local carnival.  So, we all head into town.  Entire town is packed with market stalls, and then we discover the horse stable area of town.  A fair has been set up, along with heaps of tents serving food.  A fire outside, with a rack of meat leant up over it.  The meat is apparently pork.  Seems to be heaps of steaks somehow attached to each other – forming a sheet of meat.  That rhymes – so you know it’s true.  We eat some of this, and drink plenty of cerveza.  People return back to the hostel in dribs and drabs.  Young english guy and myself eventually return, and sit in common area drinking cerveza and chatting about life until 3 or so.  I should really describe our hostel.  Our dorm is a big teepee looking thing, two stories.  Top story – three double beds set in a circle.  Bottom floor – open walled lounge-type area.  With hammock – as is nearly every available space around the grounds.  The hostel is set on a hill overlooking the valley.  And is very very chilled out.  Never see the owner (another frenchie) – as I suspect he is constantly lying in a hammock in the private quarters – the second floor of the main building.  Main building is entirely made of mud walls with bottles set into it, and often decorated with mosaics.  All in all – a hippy’s dream, in other words.

26 Nov – Eventually got up, and staggered down to town.  Had lunch, where I met the young englishman.  Then, I wandered out to the Parque Arquelogico.  Rains a little bit on the way, but I keep dry by buying a cerveza for the road.  Maybe a 30 minute walk – and I arrive there.  Another UNESCO World Heritage Site to tick off the list.  I do the whole thing, and it’s kind of cool.  Certainly not “comparable in size and style to the more famous Easter Island statues”, as my guidebook says.  Although I guess saying that a big statue in San Agustin is half the size of a small moai is comparing them.  But, Rapanui never had a statue of two monkeys having ‘relations’.  Or a statue of some guy grinning while holding a baby upside down by it’s feet.  Anyway – not as cool as Rapanui, but still pretty good.  Lots of tombs being guarded by weird statues, pretty much.  Then, I started to walk back towards town.  But – got a ride on a scooter by some friendly lady.  Dropped me off outside her pizza joint, and suggested I go there for dinner tonight.  Fair enough – and I planned to, it seemed only fair, but when I returned to the hostel it turns out that as a special treat, froggie’s wife was going to cook a homecooked meal if we wanted.  I figured it would be rude not to.  So – more cervezas, and then a homecooked meal.  Proper vegetables.  Awesome.  No rice.  Awesome.  Spent the entire night sitting around the table, drinking and chatting.

27 Nov – we had to get up early.   The two girls, the young englishman, and myself had arranged for a jeep tour for today.  To be picked up at 9am.  So, we all get up earlier than is healthy.  And wait.  And wait.  So I have a cerveza.  Then, jeep arrives.  Is actually a ute, with the back covered in over a couple of bench seats.  Two of the people already in the ute are friends of the english girl.  And we set off.  Two slightly older more sensible guys in the cab of the ute, and six young happy-go-lucky folk sitting in the back.  Then, one chap decides to climb out onto the roof.  Good idea – as the view was much better.  The rest of the trip is spent with two or three people sitting on the roof at any one time.  (Had a roofrack type system).  We visit several archeological sites – all very very similar to those at the Park just outside San Agustin.  Except those that had had their statues stolen to create one of the walks at the Park – leaving just the tombs.  Which are fairly interesting – once or twice.  So – lots of tombs and statues.  Then lunch.  Then a couple of waterfalls – including the tallest waterfall in Colombia.  Then back to San Agustin, sunburnt and tired and with a rather sore arse from the rather uncomfortable roof.  Back to hostel for a well earnt cerveza.  Then, into town to say farewell to the girls and english boy.  Then – supermarket – and back to hostel to cook my own dinner.  Long time since I have done that.  And drink some horrible horrible colombian wine.

That’s all for now.  Next update – hopefully I’ve caught a bus to Bogota, and then another one to somewhere north of there.

NOT Quito! Popayan!

21 Nov – well, this bit is still in Quito.  Woken up by David John Smith.  Telling me there’s a game of football on.  As if I care.  But, I kind of do – as it’s an excuse for heading to Finn McCool’s a little earlier.  So, I pack my bags.  Pay my bills.  Am serious about leaving tonight (tomorrow morning 5am).  Get into my best suit, and head to Finn’s.  Run into Dave at a cafe on the way.  He reckons Finn’s is closed – but there’s no padlocks on the bottom half of the door.  That means somebody is there.  So, I go, and wake up Lee.  I enter the pub, to discover Lee looking like a heroin addict; and a table covered with a box of cereal, a jug of milk, and a used bowl.  Breakfast at the office then, I guess.  People start arriving, and then we watch Ingerlund get beaten by Croatia.  I’m nearly the only person in the bar cheering Croatia.  Ingerlund now doesn’t even qualify for the European something-or-rather.  Ha!  Score one for the good guys, and negative one for our colonial oppressors.  By this stage, I’ve started drinking wine.  I continue drinking wine.  Upload some photos too, by the way.  At some stage, Ursula locks her keys in the cellar.  After some efforts at breaking in peacefully, it is decided to let me do what I’d been hoping for.  I get to shoulder-barge the door in.  Second attempt – BANG.  Door flies open.  Lock is completely ruined, but the keys are recovered.  Another thing checked off my list-of-things-to-do-before-I-die.  Then, it gets to closing time.  A few teary-eyed hugs goodbye, but with me reassuring everybody I’ll be back.  Not sure if Lee will want me back after he discovers the state of his cellar door.

22 Nov – so, about 4am or so, I’m back at the hostel.  People in the lounge – want beer, but the chap won’t sell it to them.  My last act before leaving – using my influence to buy some beers.  Then, the people in the lounge decide they don’t want them.  So, I have to leave them there, without getting any money for them.  Dumb.  Head to bus station.  Discover two irish chaps I know from Finn’s – heading the same way as myself.  Bus, as expected, is very late.  I sleep on the bus station floor.  Then, I sleep on the bus.  Forgot to get my passport out of my bag – so have to go into the luggage compartment when stopped by the army for the second time.  Attempt at eating some lunch at Tulcan – the Ecuadorian border town.  Not too successful.  A little hungover, it seems.  Then, cross the border with the irish chaps.  Get to Ipiales, the Colombian border town.  Buses to where they want to go, and where I want to go, would be arriving about midnight.  Not a good idea.  We decide to stay the night in Ipiales.  Find a hotel across the street from the bus station (not the same as the one I stayed in last time – as it was closed).  And I sleep some more.  A lot more.  Sleep until it’s too late to find food anywhere.  So have peach juice and cerveza for dinner.

23 Nov – Eat something.  After a long time.  Then catch a bus to Popayan.  Bus takes longer than expected – so I arrive at night time.  Not cool.  But, no problems.  Decide to take the easy option – and just catch a taxi – giving the address of a hostel in the guide book.  Get a dorm bed, then go find dinner.  Then, a small local pub.  Meet some locals.  I drink beer, while they drink the local spirit.  A cross between cachaca and sambuca.  Sounds pleasant, no?  Then, I’m added to the rounds of this local spirit.  While still using beer as a chaser.  Everybody gets drunk.  I get drunk.  Then, I return to the hostel.  Have a vague memory of talking to somebody when I got in.  But, when I awoke this morning – and apologised for waking somebody up and talking to them – it turns out I had been talking to somebody who wasn’t there.  It seems I hallucinated a person, and had an entire conversation with them.  Presumably giving everybody else in the room some extreme fear.  When I woke for the second time this morning, there wasn’t a single person left in the dormitory.  It was full last night.  I think I may stick to solo cerveza tonight.  I certainly didn’t take any drugs last night (knowingly, at least – possible drink spike?)  – and any alcohol which causes me to have conversations with imaginary people… I’m staying away from.  Sometimes.

Anyway – that’s how I escaped Quito.  Despite needing to return there – as the sneaky bar staff stole my favourite tie.  And my Ecuador hat.  Next stop – San Agustin.  Then – north.  Back to the Caribbean.

Quito Still, But About To Escape

16-20 Nov – Yes, I’m still in Quito.  With the same daily schedule.  Get up around 6pm, maybe eat something, maybe shower, then head to Finn McCools to drink beer, play pool, and chat with all-comers until closing time.  Repeat.

But – some variations.  Organised a pool tournament on Sunday night.  Badly – eventually publicised it the day beforehand.  So – on the night, it was pretty much the staff, and the regulars who can be depended on to be here every night.  Like me.  I didn’t win.  Was given food poisoning though – just like the All Blacks.  Ursula took me to get some chinese just beforehand.  Spicy chinese didn’t go down too well, after 5 weeks of eating nothing but irish stew, shepherds pie, and sandwiches.  I’m pretty sure Ursula did this on purpose.  She didn’t win either – but that’s not the point.  I got knocked out in the semi’s by Gus.  All due to food poisoning.  Bastard cheating Irish sticking together.  Once again though, they eventually got defeated by the english.

Am currently planning on getting a bus north at 5am on Thursday morning.  Have to stay here for tomorrow, so that I can make sure everybody in the hostel comes to this pub for the england gayball game.  Then returning to Quito by the 20th December – so that I can either fly out of here on the 23rd, or – if there’s no tickets left – sometime between Jeebersmas and New Years, after cooking a Jeebersmas dinner for the pub on Jeebersmas Day.

Well – that’s all for now.  Hopefully the next update will be entitled something other than “Quito”.

Quito Quito Quito

11-15 Nov – And still here. Have a credit card, so can leave. But haven’t yet. Hopefully will on Monday or Tuesday. But have figured out I will probably return anyway – as flights from here are about a third of those from Bogota.

Pete, a ginga englishman left recently. He’d been here longer than me. And the pub threw a party for him – decorations everywhere. Model of him on the ceiling. Etcetera.

Had my first night behind a bar, serving people other than myself. Discovered something more I’m not good at. But think I improved hugely over the night. And people walking in, seeing me on the wrong side of the bar, were usually left in stitches, once they realised I wasn’t just stealing booze for myself. And it was good fun. Harder work than I expected – but still fun. And hardly any time to actually drink anything myself – which can only be a good thing.

Also – my website seems to have disk space stolen from it. So I can’t empty my inbox, or receive emails, or update photos, or anything. Except this – hopefully – as the space should already exist, inside a database. Hopefully. So – please send emails to my hotmail account, or my gmail account. Gmail account starts with krusekruse.

Ecuador

01 Nov-10 Nov – Waiting in Quito for my credit card.  Am about to spend my last cash tonight for my bartab.  Have possibly gone over my balance already – but lovely Ursula has offered to lend me cash until the card arrives.  Hopefully she wasn’t drunk at the time, and still remembers.

In other news, I got a phone call from the National Bank.  Turns out somebody has spent just over $2,300 New Zealand dollars on my card.  And the nice lady from the fraud department suggested that the manner of my losing my card was my own fault, and therefore I’m going to be liable for the money spent.  Wrote an email to them last night while rather intoxicated, but wisely waited until tonight so I could check what I’d written.  Wasn’t too bad when I did check it.  Had to describe the exact circumstances through which I lost my card.  I don’t think it’s going to go down too well.  And using the free internet at Finn McCools to write important emails to my bank which will decide whether or not I lose over 2 grand is possibly not a good idea.

Anyway, other events have been… guy turning up at hostel at 4am, in tears.  I stay up all night talking to him, and consoling him.  Girlfriend had beaten him up.  Nice.  Two nights later, acting as a bouncer here at Finns, stopping the ex-military Rick from killing a very drunk Arsetralian who’d just grabbed a glass off somebody and then deliberately dropping it on the ground.  Rick is like me in that he feels that this pub is his house, and the people here his family.  I had to use that in order to stop him from going nuts.  “This is my house too – and you’re not going to do anything in my house… your house.”

As well as being bouncer, counsellor, and all round good guy – have done a couple stints of relationship counselling, and a little bit of security escort for people between the bar and the hostel.  There’s been a few dodgy incidents in the street immediately outside my hostel over the last week. Have stopped carrying my passport with me – and hoping that if the police talk to me, they’ll accept the option of coming to the hostel to inspect my identification.  I believe that the law states they must – but the law here is rather, ummm, fluid.

Anyway, must go.  Necessito tengo una juego de pool, e mas cerveza.  Mas cerveza qual no tengo deniro para.  Caio.

Still Quito

01-04 Nov – Same old.  Except rather more sedate.  Not much point in doing daily updates – as each day has consisted of sleeping in as much as possible, eating, and then going to good old Finn McCools for some pool and chatting with people.  Only breaks in the routine have been:

– my credit card is gone.  Which means I’m stuck here until a replacement arrives.  Not too upset about that really – as I was finding it difficult to find motivation to leave.  Now I have an excuse to stay without feeling guilty.  And when I do get a replacement – it will definitely be time to move on.  But – how my credit card is gone.  I used it as a bond while I borrowed two wine glasses from a nearby cafe/bar.  When I returned the glasses, they told me the card was gone.  Have cancelled it of course – and it doesn’t look like anybody managed to do anything dodgy with it.

– the other extraordinary happening, Finn’s was closed last night!  It really was a devastating thing.  I couldn’t believe it.  Apparently there were people wandering listlessly all over the nearby streets – asking each other if they knew what was going on.  Not sure if it’s a bad reflection on ourselves – or a good reflection on how much of a homely place the pub has become.  And it was supposed to be the day when I’d have a go at working behind the bar.  Ursula wants me to work behind the bar.  Lee wants to hire me as a bouncer.  Or wants me to get by until my credit card arrives by hustling pool.  Me – I’m trying to eat as much as possible at the hostel so that the cost goes on my account.  And have moved into a private room, seeing as I’m here for a while longer.

Pen – don’t worry, I’m not going to settle down here and become a fulltime barman in Ecuador.  Will really get moving as soon as possible.