A Travellerspoint blog

Colombia 7

Are we nearly there yet?

sunny 33 °C

We head into Monteria town centre for dinner. The canal side is teeming with families. All of a sudden I worry about more mossie bites. The last ones have turned really nasty. Swollen purple raised bumps on my legs and arms. They lie dormant for a few hours then they start to niggle, tempting an innocent scratch, you oblige. The poison is re-activated. Within 5 minutes the bite and surrounding area are on fire, an itch tornado. I want a knife to cut out the eye of the storm. Mutherf&@kers!!
We opt for pizza for dinner with Club Colombia to wash it down. Then home and tucked up in a single bed with a fan whirring above our heads.

I'm desperate for a lie in but no, up at the dawn of crack. I'm excited though, today we will reach the sea. That will be the Caribbean of course! After a quick breakfast and a sleepy pack. Where is my phone? Where is my jacket (which I don’t need because it's so goddam hot!) Did we leave my hat in the car? ... We head off in convoy towards the coast. We are scheduled to stop for lunch first, at yet another aunt and uncles. We arrive a while later, cutting off from the main road down a dirt track, at a huge gate. It opens up automatically and uncovers a long driveway and a beautiful hacienda nestled in trees at the end.

We park under awnings and are ushered on a shaded veranda and into the house. A tasty lunch with lots of aunts, uncles and cousins a few grannies and one granddad. He' wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy boots, looks about 100 and is drinking whiskey. I love him. One of Ricky's cousins is a model with incredible fake boobs and the huskiest Spanish voice I ever heard. Ricardo explains that she and her rich Colombian boyfriend flash packed around Europe staying in 5 star hotels. Hehe. I escape back to the veranda for a smoke. It's baking, easily into the 30s. A full on lunch, all served to us by staff. Then we're off again. People are so hospitable here. I get kisses and hugs. As we drive out of the gate another car flies past and hits an iguana crossing the road. It's tail comes clean off. I watch out the back of the car, it's stunned, but manages to walk itself to the side of the road. Leaving a neat tail, or 1/3 of its body in the middle of the road. Tatiana Ricardo's cousin says that it should survive without it, in Spanish. I understand what she says! My Spanish is slowly improving. 1.5 hours to the sea. After many dirt tracks and pot hole avoidance, we turn into a modern development. We unpack and as we head around the front I spy the Caribbean, like a blue green jewel glinting in the setting sun.

I breathe a sigh of relief. Sun, sea and sand :)

The apartment is in an ultra modern block right on the beach with beautiful views over the sea. We deposit our bags in the room, I slip on my cossie and head down for a swim and end of day sunning. Glorious! I'm happy.

Posted by spacebooth 03:28 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Colombia 6

sunny 32 °C

We wake up at 4.30am. Unnatural it's my holiday! And it's Christmas day. I don't think I've been up this early on the 25th December since my cousins were 7 and 9 and always woke me and my sister up at about 4am to check father Christmas had been as promised, and left us a stocking (dads ski sock) with the usual collection of: chocolate money, yoyo, mini colouring pencils, stickers, a pair of socks/pants and of course a Satsuma/mandarin at the bottom nestled in the toe bit?

The mossie bites are itching like hell. I can't believe these tiny insects cause so much grief? What exactly is their role in the ecosystem? I itch like hell and want to drag my nails over the offending piercings (unfortunately I have already done this while asleep, I've scratched the tops off the bites, ow!)

We packed the car last night. So all we have to do is jump in and head off. The sun is rising as we get on the other side of Pereira. It's so beautiful! I love the hills. We encounter two mini monsoon like rains en route. We lunch high in the hills at a hand glide lift off point. R is doing all the driving. Through Medellin then on to Monteria. As we head out of the hills we pass countless kids at the road side begging. They live in slum like makeshift bamboo and plastic bin bag huts along the side of the road. Countless children. This is so sad. As we get lower the temperature gets hotter and hotter. Eventually the hills leave us and the plains towards the coast stretch before us. The tundra is quite different now. It's a very agricultural area full of fincas rearing beef for meat and milk. After about 12 hours is the car, we reach Monteria and the flat of Tia Gloria and Tio Alfonso. Tatiana their daughter and r's cousin is a veritable babe. Tiny as a bird and all willowy, legs to die for. I've sat in the car for 12 hours. It's been sweltering. I don't even want to know what's going on with my hair? It's been stuck under the panama hat for at least 8 hours. I'm sticky and itchy. I excuse myself for a shower. A cold shower! Cold showers for the next week and a half. I hate them. Even when I'm melting. I stand near the spray and sort of inch in, feet first. Getting my hair wet is tantamount to jumping out of a plane, I'm so scared of the cold.

Colombia is a fabulous people watching destination. There is a wonderful mixture of faces, bodies and looks.

One of my favourites is the 1669 look. Coined on urban dictionary...well that's where I saw it. This is done especially well here in Colombia. Skinny jeans or leggings with legs and huge, yet shapely bottom poured in then a muffin top squeezed out over the top. Then a fitted lycra t-shirt over huge boobs. 'Pechonalidad' as they say in Spanish. Which is basically persolalidad (personality) but of the chest, Jeje! Mountains of hair then cascade over the shoulders and back. All this is precariously balanced on super high platform stilettos, cheap with the labels usually still stuck on the soles. From behind you would be forgiven in thinking the female should be 16 going on 18. Then she turns around and wham she's actually late forties! Or could be pushing 69 I suppose? Crow’s feet cracking in foundation and usually a nice selection of bling on show. Brilliant. I can't stop staring.

Bunuelos at Christmas, so many.
Getting a little lost in Medellin.
Boobs in Colombia, so many fakies.
Monteria, a sort of Beverly hills of Colombia.
Huge mansions.
Iguanas.
New mango viche – sort of slush puppy style YUM!
Pizza and checking out the iPhone apps with tia Gloria.
Fresh cooked pineapple on pizza A M A Z I N G .
32 degrees and AirCon
Club Colombia Negra x 3

Posted by spacebooth 08:45 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Colombia 5

A Navidad Colombian Style

sunny 25 °C

The bus ride.

So there we are in Medellin's busy bus terminal. It's 9.30am and our bus goes at 10. Ricardo has booked us the tickets and has baggsied the best seats, one back from the front. It's a flashy bus with big comfy recliner seats. I'm transported back to 2008. But it is so nice doing a bus with a boy you can snuggle up to and I have the window seat because I asked for it.
We have bought a couple of chicken empanads (still warm) and Lina gave us some fruit. We set off, the journey should take 5-6 hours. We leave Medellin climbing steadily. The bus winds around the road, skinny single lanes with obstacles, 'PELIGRO!' signs warn, with a graphics of a head-
on car crash. On a few occasions I'm looking out the window and straight down into a cloud forrest oblivion. I hope the bus driver knows what he's doing, as we turn corners so close to the edge gravel shunts off into oblivion.
We are quite high up and my ears keep popping, and I'm glad I don't get car sick. There has been lots of rain in the hills of Colombia and large mudslides have closed half the road in at least 5 places. This means horrendous traffic jams of up to a hour or two. We're traveling the main road between two cities so there countless huge American style dodge trucks hauling livestock or steel girders or covered loads, narco traffic? My favorite loads are covered in black tarpaulin and have hecho en Medellin printed on the back. I imagine trucks full of cocaine. Sitting at the front we have prime position for the on-board entertainment which is two films. The first one starts...explosions, gunfire, shouting, blood, more machine gun fire. Unintelligible Spanish grunts. "the marine" in Spanish with no subtitles. Brilliant. Interestingly you don't really need any subtitles. It's quite awful but I find it difficult to tear my self away (the fact you can't hear yourself think above explosions and gunfire doesn't help). Apart form the landslides which consist of reddy brown earth slumped across the road or huge boulders (yikes!). There is also the problem of wide lorries like I mentioned before passing each other on narrow stretches of road.  Some corners are so tight, long vehicles have to take turns in going round them. In one incident we get stuck on a wobbly bridge over a Rio which has burst its banks, it is brown with sediment and raging below us. Again i look out my window straight into the rapids. I caluclate if we fall in, we die. There'll be no breaking of bus window with tiny hammer and swimming free. We have to pull in our mirror for the trucks going the other way to get past, it's that tight. We finally pull off. There is an announcement in Spanish. No comprende. A horrible smell, the toilet is broken. I hope the smell is temporary? We stop 30 mins later at at rest stop everyone piles off for the bano. It's so hot! R explains that were now down in the valley and that's why it's hotter. I'm talking 10degrees difference. We all pile back on, and I'm now grateful for the freezing aircon. I don't drink anything else for fear of needing another wee. The second film starts. The zoo keeper. What? A nerdy fat guy asks his girl to get married, she says no, his life crumbles, he gets a new job at a new zoo, there's a beautiful woman he has to work with (but she's wearing a dowdy uniform, has her hair up and wears glasses, so he doesn't notice she's beautiful). But he still carries a torch for  bitch ex-girlfriend, anyway then the animals start talking to him and sorting out this love life. The dubbed spanish animal voices are ridiculous. I can't watch this, except i do. I fall asleep. 8.5 hours later we arrive in Armenia. We jump out and hail a cab to Ricardo's parents.
We're back. We have our room back with all our washed clothes folded on the bed and the mini bar stocked full.
The next day we head out to see a coffee plantation.
Me, Ricky, his dad, brother and niece. Buenavista. It's set in the rolling countryside, honestly some of the most beautiful landscape I've ever seen. Lush tropical quite hilly hills. We learn all about the coffee process. Ending with a delishious cappuccino with an indescribably beautiful view, oh that'll be the buena vista! We get eaten alive by the evilest Mosquitos known to man. They are huge and hover over every cm squared of open flesh. Innocent skin piercings turn into raging itch fests (later). The motherf£ckers.

Nearly Christmas. I've been bigging up ricks cooking prowess to all and sundry. We therefore offer to bake an apple crumble for Christmas day. I'm intrigued at what were going to eat? It seems no roast pig ;(

The hair situation is dire. The water, heat, humidity turn my hair into a frizzy oil slick. It's disgusting. Nothing is working. I hate it.

We head over to a young friend of r's one evening. He is a Colombian and has found an English girl like me. They have both moved from London where they met, to Armenia. I use the term 'girl' to describe the girlfriend. She's only 24 and has that sparkle of new love and adventure in her eyes. She speaks ebthusiastically about the love of her life (ricardos friend) and how exciting it is to be in Armenia.
They have set up a home which they proudly show us around. It's a spacious top floor flat with Indian hippy aka student throws over the sofas. A huge throw is pinned to the ceiling above the bed with ganja leaves all over it. They have a chill out room! There is a graffitti wall which we're asked to autograph. There is a distinct aroma of a not so unpleasant a herb. Oh to be 24 and have it all in front of you again!

It's Christmas eve! It's warm and it's humid. We go for a drive to a village called solento. It's up in the hills outside Armenia. A beautiful colonial village set into this incredible landscape. Then we drive up a valley to a place called Cocura. R tells me this is the most beautiful place on earth. I think it probably is? There are spooky palm trees called wax palms. I feel like we have been transported back in time to the land of dinosaurs. We stop at a restaurant near a campsite young R used to stay at, and share a huge patacon crisp with caper mayonnaise and salsa oh and a cerveca. Club Colombia is my fav.

On route to the grandmothers that eve we stop to buy her a poinsettia in a pot. We also buy the ingredients for the apple crumble. Not as easy as it might sound. 

I have to report that Christmas eve celebrations are not really that christmassy. Well not like my world. It's a big family gathering. You may have read the list of peeps? Of course I'm in my bubble so I really can't compare. Also it's warm and I realize it's only my 2nd hot Christmas! The grandma is the chief bunuello maker and sits in her chair fashioning balls of a cheesy dough mixture. These are then deep fried. Dinner is a cold buffett. Four generations of the family are there. Tia Olga informs me that the 48th great grandchild has just been born! R and I get asked about when we will start a family! I'm also informed by r's mother she wants a son. I want to say 'he's only just got divorced!' and 'we've only just moved in together'. It's so different here...

Basically we eat and drink too much, not so different.
A Rosario style stuffed chicken. A deboned chicken. Stuffed with pate, ham, and boiled eggs in the middle.
Club Colombia favorite beer.
The apple crumble is made guessing weights. It's good, but no fresh cream.
No Christmas tree.
The jardin is officially gorgeous though.
Love Olga and the family. Olga speaks English!
Have to learn Spanish.
R has tourettes sneezing. He swears every-time he sneezes.  
Vegetables I miss you.
I haven't had the internet for over a week.
Finished the glass room. Great book.
About to head to the beach!! Finally.

Car journey ahead. R wants us to leave at 5am christmas day!

Sorry for delay xxxx

Posted by spacebooth 07:33 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Colombia 4 viaje de Navidad

Medellin

all seasons in one day 25 °C

I feel dug up as we try to hail a cab at 5am on Sunday morning in a still dark bogota. Thank god it's not raining. Finally a little yellow taxi spots us and stops. We jump in and head to the airport. We fly out over bogota as the sun is rising. I miss this as I do my usual, which is an immediate pre/during take off snooze as soon as I'm settled in my seat.

We land in Medellin 40 mins later. Uncle Netto is there to meet us. He takes us straight to a roadside restaurant which serves amazing breakfasts! I'm told I have to try a speciality chorizo. I can't face a whole one so steal a taste of Ricardo's. Netto speaks English! For a few days I leave the bubble. A delicious scrambled eggs on arepa, a smooth coffee, yum.

We arrive at the very plush flat in the south east. It's beautifully set into the mountains with an impressive vista over the whole of Medellin. Medellin im told is a stark contest of a city. The nice bits are really nice. The roads, houses, hotels, shops, restaurants all nicely turned out. Wow I'm impressed. The north of the city is not so nice and a massive sprawling favela. On Monday we divert to see the centre which is frenetic and crazy. Ricardo buys me a panama hat from a small sombrero shop in the centre. We stop in an oldy worldy book shop in the back streets and buy an aniversary edition of Cien Anos de Soledad. I resolve to be able to read this at some point in the future. I want to understand Gabriel in Spanish. The centre is full of eveything going on at once. Noisy farther christmas's selling stuff. They look like dan ackroyd's dirty Santa in trading places. It's chaotic and is in fact a stark contrast to the relaxed hilly area where  the uncle lives. We find a small street selling antiques. I cast my eyes over the wares, some very cool old wicker furniture and some beautiful mirrors. I was hoping for some tiny frames I could easily slip into my baggage. Or something small. But I can't find anything. Then back into a yellow cab, this time the driver is young and looks rather worse for wear. I can see his bloodshot eyes reflected in the rearview mirror. We cross the city and weave our way back up to the flat. I like Medellin. That evening we all pile into the Toyota land cruiser. Netto, Lina, Carlos, Ricardo, Esther and three kids. Geronimo, Sara and Victoria! We head into town to see pueblita paisa. Which is up a hill in the middle of Medellin. It's an old bit of preserved town. A little square with shops and a sort of museum. Netto decides that we need to try every Colombian street food.

Obleas - paper thin round wafers which a fat smear of Arequipe (toffee or dulche de leche).

Mango viche / green mango slices with lime juice and salt.

Strawberry fruit salad with condensed milk on top.

Bunuelos with natilla - fried dough balls with sugar jelly.

Then we all pile in the car again to see the Christmas lights. I'm talking serious lights. 42 million of them. Quite spectacular. All along the river. As we glide along the roadblock we are offered yet more treats! Popcorn, freshly fried potato chips, corn on the cob. The washed down with sugar cane juice.

Back home some wine to take the edge of the sugar. Then bed, we rise early to catch a bus back to Armenia. 

Bleary eyed. Sugar come down? We get dropped at the bus station. 

5 hours to Armenia on Flota Occidental.

Xxx

Posted by spacebooth 08:29 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Colombia 3 Viaje de Navidad

Bogota

all seasons in one day

nb I just re typed this. I'm doing it all on my iPhone. It's hopeless for editing. Bits get missed out.

Bogota.

We fly into bogota, we arrive quite late. Jump in a cab and head to Calle 100. North of the city. Mauricio is waiting for us. He's very kindly given us his bedroom for the weekend. Off to bed.

We wake up early as were staying on a main road and it bloody noisy. We get ourselves together and head into town by foot. Down Carrera 11 which has been on the TV. Bogota is plagued by flooding and crappy roads. Whole sections of carerra 11 are submerged in water. There is more serious flooding in some areas  Because as I learn later, the houses are built on flood plains without planning permission. It's heart breaking and no easy solution for 1000's of people. I'm really sad about this. I don't understand the politics, and why this has happened? But I realize that I'm here doing nice things in an exciting place. It's easy to forget that there are huge socio-economic problems which I won't see, except on the tv.

After an initial wander in the sun and a 'nice' coffee. We head to La Candelaria. The colonial centre. Btw we jump into a cab. 40 mins later we arrive downtown. I like Bogota it reminds me of Rio. We had a glorious morning of sun but now the clouds loom again.

Notes:
Ajaco Bogota style. OMG. Now this is a dish to write home about. A thick potato and chicken soup. Served with torn chicken beast, chunks of creamy smooth potato, two quarters of corn on the cob. Fat capers. Then sour cream is drizzled over the top. As a side there is steamed rice and a quarter of avocado, so good.

As the weather is turning we decide to head home in a cab. It's Friday late afternoon and we have to get ready for the night. The cab takes the high road around the edge of the city. Bogota sits  high 2600m! So the road is virtually carved into the hill side. Favela settlements rise up the steep hillsides to our right. These then give way to luxury high-rises further up the road. Bogota is huge. I only scrape a minor part.  

A BIG night out. A few initial shenanigans. Our tickets have mysteriously gone missing? We're nearly out the door when Ric asks me if I have the tickets? I don't have them neither does he! They were left on the desk during the day. We fear the housemaid has thrown them out?! We turn the flat upside down in a mad panic. Nothing. A very stressful start to an amazing night. We eventually concede they have vanished and head to the party anyway, in the hope we can buy on the door. We can! Only another 400,000 pesos. All forgotten after a few beers and excellent night.  What a night. I meet some great guys (the other flat mates) who very kindly speak English on my behalf. I love Colombians. Saturday is a write off.

45 minute flight to Medellin to see tio Netto and family.

Xx

Posted by spacebooth 19:14 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Colombia - The Christmas Trip / El viaje de Navidad

Armenia

rain 21 °C

It has become apparent that there will be no sun really, to speak of. The clouds hang ominously like thick smoke in the sky. Armenia is hilly, which I like and you can see a lush green blanket of jungle spreading out over the hills which surround the town. It has a busy centro which is packed full of street hawkers selling huge tropical fruits, arepas, deep fried donuts all manner of tasty treats. We're back to the trolleys. First observed in Brazil. Ingenious customised trolleys for specific food or other preparation. Churros, popcorn, fruits, lottery. Ricardo takes me to see his fathers button shop. It's incredible. An old shop with it's original signage, and original shop fittings. Buttons, ribbons, cottons, zips. A haberdashers emporium. Nothing has changed for 40 years. I love it. Then in a sort of comfortable haze. We wander the busy centre and immerse ourselves in the hustle and bustle. We stop for green mango with lime juice and salt, my favourite. Unfortunately for me no one really speaks English this therefore renders me in a bubble, I have to learn Spanish. Essential.

Arepas (corn meal tortilla) are eaten with everything. Lunch or dinner at home is maybe meat or fish (usually fried) with rice and a sliced tomato or salad. Simple and tasty. The avocados are stupendous. The biggest avocado I've ever seen, is so delicious I can't stop thinking about it. Mashed on an arepa, it's perfect. I love the all the family and I'm being fussed over. Given presents and made to feel right at home.
The grandma, matriarch is an grand old dame who still wears lipstick and is, well incredible. She sat crocheting in front of me looking at me straight in the eye. She's 89 and her eyesight is perfect. Her garden is a joy and I'm inspired. Pots are the way to go. I want frangipani and aloe vera and everything she has, but will these work in London? I fear not.

Ricardo's parents have a tiny Pomeranian doggy called Canella (cinnamon). When she was a puppy she fell off the bed and twisted her neck. She now has a permanent cocked head. So her head is always to one side and it spears she is always looking at you. I will upload a picture. It's quite funny.

It's done it again. South America and my hair just don't get on. It's done that flat thing, what's going on with it? Flat on top wispy ends. BAD hair again, sigh. I have to experiment with different shampoos. Ricardo is also having the hair problem too. REN expensive shampoo, you don't work in Colombia. Sodium laureth sulphate all is forgiven, crossing fingers this works better?

I'm od-ing on tat. The Christmas decorations are super tat. I've never seen such extreme tat! Ed would love it. They love all kinds of lights. Preferably with as much colour and flashing. Then there are these stuffed toy father Christmas´s, snowmen and angels. Then just in case you might pop to the loo and forget what time of year it is...they have Christmas toilet seat covers, Christmas wee drip mats, bath mats and towels. The nativity scene at the parents is enormous. I've never seen anything like it, it's basically a nativity town. I resolve to do a similar one from now on at home.

I will list who is there for Christmas day. A few I've not yet met. We are having a roast pig with an apple in its gob for Christmas day apparently! Let's cross fingers for some veggies too.

Ricardo
Martha
Henry
Diego
Diana
Julianna
Daniela
Olga
Fabio
Lina
Marina
Oscar
Tata
Luis
Olivia
Edilvia
Beatrice
Juan Jose

I think?

Plus possibly Angela, Ruben, Suzanne and Samuel.

And not forgetting, Netto, Lina, jeronimo and Sara. And Carlos and Victoria. Who I'm meeting soon in Medellin. I feel like in a my own version of 100 years of Solitude. Still one of my favourite books. Or Cien Anos de Soledad.

A remarkable thing happens on Thursday. Ricardo, his mum Martha, her sister in law Camilla and I jump into Camilla's car to drive an hour to Pereira. For a divorce! Ricardo is getting divorced. I'm very happy. He is too. My boyfriend is officially a free agent.

Notes:

Need more vegetables.
Going to be the size of a house if i continue to eat everything I'm offered/given to eat.
I'm in a nation on feeders. All the women continually offer you sweets, fried dough balls...
They can talk like I've never heard talking before. They hardly stop to breath!
The love hotel road (on the outskirts of the towns, where you shack up for an hour or two with an illicit lover, or just because you still live at home with your parents).
The awful sculptures. The naked stretched man. Truly terrible.
The torrential rain.
The tiny yellow taxis.
The horse mane extract shampoo? Is this the secret? I'm too scared to try.

Another surprise. Flight booked to Bogota and tickets for Nicholas Jaar! We'll stay with a friend of Ricardo's.

So Thursday eve. We sit supping Club Colombia. Delicious cerveca waiting to board to 35 min flight to Bogota.

Posted by spacebooth 07:35 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Colombia - The Christmas Trip / El viaje de Navidad

The flight

all seasons in one day 23 °C

The Christmas Trip / El viaje de Navidad

After an eventful year I finally sit on the plane casting my eyes over the left wing of the Iberia airbus, as the caribbean meets the south American continent. I think it's Colombia but it could be Venezuela I suppose? I return after 3.5 years. Can I really be that long since I left? I flew out of Bogota still weak from my food poisoning in Santa Marta in June 2008. I've yearned to return to South America. To Colombia. I never expected to be doing it like this. I sit next to a man whom I met by chance in a year ago.

A weekend planned to entertain a travelling friend from Sydney. VIP tickets for fabric to see Ricardo Villalobos. Sydney gets his dates wrong so can't make it. I want to go. Then let down by bestfriend who quite rightly had been at work on the Saturday, so is not in a state of mind to hit a club. An innocent text to an old friend, a Colombian Dj who is bound to want to come. Then a response. Hello this is Ricardo a friend of David's.  David has moved to Berlin, I have his phone. I know I don't know you, but I wondered if I might come with you to fabric?...

So here I sit en route to bogota with my Colombian boyfriend whom I met through a wrong text message.

I can confirm that I will try my hardest not to fly Iberia again. Really bad. We did it the cheapest way we could. Even then it wasn't that cheap. We're late and we have a connecting flight to catch. I'm excited and nervous all at the same time. I have a whole Colombian family to meet! Back to the matter at hand. I have just tried to eat a mushroom lasagna, iberia you do yourself no favours.

We started at silly o'clock in Clapton. Out flight left heathrow at 7.20 this morning. We flew to Madrid then onto bogota. Although arriving a little late we get to the gate and have to queue for nearly an hour. I can't help but stare at my fellow passengers. We have big round boobs on almost every lady. There are big butts with butt cleavages! There is a lot of bling. There are a few men with saved sides of hair, sort of flat mohican. There is definitely a lady boy. I'm a starer. I stare at people, sorry. It's just so interesting. I've managed to dress in leggings, long t-shirt dress combo which I swear only came about because of the long flight. I feel slightly out of place queuing for a flight to Bogota, where are my boobs?

3 flights later we arrive in Armenia the capital of Quindio and the heart of the coffee growing area of Colombia.  

Posted by spacebooth 10:33 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

UK

Shropshire

sunny 22 °C

My last exert was a long time in coming and basically sets the scene for my trials and tribulations back in Blighty. My homeland apparently?! India out the way and back to sorting out esthersroom...still not totally sorted. Need some money to throw at the situation. I have stopped with the dole, thank god, but I need something part time to tide me over. I'm working in a vintage clothing shop on the Fulham Road. It’s now May (24th), the bank holiday weekend which should be the Stanley weekend. I'm sitting in the garden of E and J in Shropshire. It’s glorious. A and I have just popped up the road to the petrol station in Diddlesbury, to get the Sunday papers and some fags. We forgot to get lemons. What a pair of lemons. What's on the cards today? Well we have a chicken spit roasting on a French clockwork rotisserie. It’s just going 'doying dong' reminding us to go and wind it up. E bought it on e-bay from France. I want one. Anyway it’s Sunday and so far a blisssful weekend. Ridiculous tepee action last night, which resulted in the two gays passed out sleeping under fancy dress and us crouching around the stove in the freezing cold listening to David Delgado on the ipod.

So much fun! But why do I have this uncomfortable feeling? Why am in paradise and feel so freaked out...and alone? That’s why: I am alone. I have two couples happily together around me, and I desperately need a special someone, I conclude that I hate being single today. I have the whole ex-thing in the background too, (he and new love keep coming up in conversation) making me feel sick, it's a gut reaction.

So we arrived on Friday afternoon, with the kids A and D. After a three hour drive from London in my new car. A sensible millenium Passat estate (which I love!). Bought it from a Chinese man in Barnes. For dinner we cook big fat steaks on open bbq E has built onto the side of the barn. He also digs out the deep fat fryer, oh yes! For proper ‘frites’. What a delish dinner. For desert we sort out Sing Star in the taxidermy lounge and have a sing off. E's taxidermy collection is ever growing, there is a peacock, a parrot, an alligator, a tortoise and a spooky puffin?! I beat J about ten times in a row on his favourite ‘Imagine’. He is so pissed off! Then the dead presidents, Saddam and Osama masks and come out and all hell breaks loose. They are officially brilliant. After J’s knockout in Sing Star he tops the evening with his Saddam Hussein face, geisha hair, tutu and stripy trouser ensemble, which has us rolling about on the floor in hysterics. You are never, I repeat never to old for fancy dress. It’s the BEST! I finally go to bed only to be woken around 4.30am by my phone ringing. It’s my crazy Bollywood director demanding phone sex! What?!. Unfortunately the phone reception is pretty rubbish at the house, and we keep getting cut off. Thing is, it’s just too funny to listen to him and just when it gets interesting (he gets interested!) he gets cut off. It’s like I’m doing it on purpose. I actually have no idea what’s really going on, he’s the one speaking. I think I’m just laughing. After about call five, and him still not understanding that I’m basically in a field and there’s no reception. He obviously gives up and I fall back to sleep. My news is discussed over breakfast sausage and eggs, and E reckons I should get an 0898 number!

The weekend pretty much revolves around the open fire and roasting various meats. It’s now Saturday and a collection of friends with kids are coming for lunch. We’ve got lamb chops, which have been marinating all morning in cumin, lemon and garlic. After the feast we all sprawl out in front of the tepee in the sun with fat tummies and wobbly heads. I love the country life.

The Chinese lanterns again, the big red one!
The early start back to London at 6am! Yuk.
Ok Ok I'm happy being single, just sometimes I wish I could have someone.
A certain person who was on the scene, including the 'snowy day' in London, where everything came to a halt and we ended up walking across Richmond park, to go Urban Tobogganing on trays we stole from Cafe Nero (we gave them back after). Such a brilliant day! Anyway he's been messing me around big time and has been officially dumped.
I love E, J, A and D what a cool weekend!

Lol est xxx

Posted by spacebooth 14:05 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged events Comments (0)

UK and India

London, Bombay, Goa and Jaipur

sunny 30 °C

So I finally make it back to blighty after an extended Christmas chilling with parents and basically deferring the inevitable. I have to go back to London and earn a living. Anyway so been hanging out in my hood. Trying to figure out what I am doing with my life. This is what I’ve come up with:

esthersroom /// full of very cool stuff

My back ground in interior design and my love of cool stuff. I want a shop. But a private, very intimate, very special shop…Anyway can’t have a physical shop yet, so going to have a website shop. Which can be just as cool and almost better because it’s a hell of a lot cheaper and in with the in-crowd.

esthersroom is my vision and my destiny. Everything in my room is for sale essentially. This concept will morph and follow its own course. I will buy in products that I will show for sale on my site. Things that I would have in my room, esthersroom, which of course means ultra cool shit. It will be full of very cool stuff. Every item is something that has been chosen by me for its beauty, its quality, and its uniqueness.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I hope you trust my eye. I’d like to think I have a good eye for cool stuff.

So welcome to esthersroom.

Lets see what’s new this week?!...

Oh well its not quite up and running yet (massive procrastination and lack of reddies). So the idea is born and takes a while for me to get my head around. Meanwhile I sign on and do a few cash in hand jobs, bits and pieces to get by. OMG signing on what a complete fucking pain in the arse, it’s ridiculous. Never done it before and glad to have now stopped. Grim grim grim. I have to take the plunge so with the bit of money I do have I book a ticket back to India for a buying trip. Haha, the wanderlust returns and it’s something to work towards. I’m going the beginning of March for two weeks. Did I say that January is also on the wagon? = thoroughly boring. A certain person is also in touch as soon as I get back, which is quite exciting (I actually like him!). It’s all looking good for being home! I really do look at London with fresh eyes. I know what I want now, I just need to work towards it. The only real disaster on my return is my Lacie external hard drive corrupting its self and me loosing all my bloody photos etc which I’d transferred from the laptop. I have my trusty power book back now, but it’s a bit old and creaky to be honest. Fucking annoying. I took off all my photos and itunes so that the memory wasn’t maxed out, and then I accidentally unplugged it from the laptop without ejecting it, and its now corrupter than Maddoff. Superstar R comes to the rescue. Is there no end to what the guy can do? An all round perfect specimen of a man. Anyway he burns me some filesalvage thingy and manages to get the data off the corrupt drive and onto a new one. Except one slight problem. None of the files are catalogued. So basically every jpeg has been lumped together, in no order. I have 51000 of them to look through???! What?! Cant even think about it now :(

M and P inform me that they are in town for the Rothko exhibition at Tate Modern. Haven’t seen them since New Year so go and enjoy that, and have yummy fish and chips for lunch. I love them! And the Rothko stuff was quite good too. I have a new flat mate who is very sweet. Irish and a really good egg. She’s a bit younger than me but we get on very well.

So India looms and I work out what I’ll be doing. I really have a lot to do there so have a tight schedule. Mumbai for four days, Goa for four days, then Jaipur for four days. Like clockwork. So February flies past and all of a sudden I’m off again. I’m flying on Oman air via Muscat (brilliant airline) crappy stopover. I’m heading to Bombay. D has said I can stay which is awesome. I jump in a bumble bee taxi at the airport and wiz down to Breach Candy. I’ve missed India and I love it being back. It’s bloody hot and I’m dripping when I arrive at D’s air-conditioned penthouse flat! Err yes please!! It’s super to see him and we head straight up to Breach Candy (the club) for sunset drinks and dinner. He’s such a gent what a cool dude. Of course a mini bender ensues and we don’t hit the sack until about 7am! oops! I have a number of shops to visit in Bombay, which I do over the next few days, getting contacts and forming ideas. I hook up with other D and P who are also about, AND I see my Bollywood director. Except he’s been at a wedding all day and is pissed as a fart. So doesn’t really make any sense. A girl then accidentally on purpose throws her wine over me. Which results in Bollywood director (who is officially the most eligible bachelor in all of Bombay), licking the wine off my face and ear right in front of her. The stupid girl is not best pleased. Haha!! Anyway I get whished off to another party by D and that’s the end of that. I have a flight to Goa booked and leave crazy Bombay and head south. I arrive in Goa and make my way towards Vagator. Salt and Pepper is full so I end up in a beach hut overlooking the sea! Bliss. I stake-out the night market again and meet up the C and a few others from my last trip here. So cool to see them. I arrange a few meetings over the next few days. I’m running around so much I only make to the beach one afternoon. Successful meetings and some stock ordered! Beautiful Nepalese wool scarves, and old Bollywood photographs.

Then it’s another flight all the way up the Jaipur! I’m so excited. Jaipur is beautiful. I’ve been recommended a hotel to stay in which is more expensive than normal, but hey I'm on business and I deserve it! Arya Niwas. The day after I arrive it happens to be ‘Holi day’, which transpires to be the most bizarre day I ever spend in India. What a crazy day! I go out for dinner on my own the night I arrive, and meet a guy called Sam on my way home. He tells me he’s also staying at my hotel and do a fancy a drink?! I actually do, so we head to a bar. He drops me off home later and has invited me to spend the day with him tomorrow. He collects me in the morning. Humm I don’t think he’s staying at the hotel, but anyway. We drive off on his vespa and he shows me the sights of Jaipur, on Holi day (festival of colour). Everything is shut but everyone, make that every man, is on the streets, with clear plastic bags full of brightly coloured powder; pink, red, orange, yellow, purple and green. This powder is thrown over as many people as you can. You get covered from head to toe in powder. It’s crazy. Unfortunately being a white woman I get rather a lot of attention from men wanting the wish me ‘holi day’, they literally smother me in powder, Including my breasts a few times! Annoyingly in the first attack (young boys who won’t have know any better) smother me, and my Canon G9 camera. Which works for a few hours after, but then the lens jams. Darn it. Really pissed off. So after being about on the streets for a while…it's proper madness. Sam invites me back to his family celebrations. Where I spend the afternoon dancing to Indian music, drinking beer, eating delicious food with his whole extended family (like about forty people!). None of whom speak any or hardly any English. They’re not really sure what to make of me, but they are so generous and very very hospitable. I don’t think they’ll actually ever know what I really look like, seeing I was pretty much bright pink and purple, with bits of green and orange all afternoon. What a strange and exhilarating day!!!? I’m very grateful to Sam, who admits that he lied about staying at the hotel. I forgive him his trespasses. The following day I meet up with the quilt company I came to see, and order beautiful hand block printed quilts. Sam then collects me and drives me up to the Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort and Nahargarh Fort. Amazing but speechless that don't have my camera. Have to go back! In the evening we head to the Cinema. Which is famous in India for being so beautiful, gaudy and like a big iced cake! A Bollywood movie to round off my stay. It's all in Hindi, so have to guess what's happening. Indians have no rules regarding turning your mobile off during the show. So phones continually ring throughout the film. People chat away. God I love India, it has it's own rules. I'm still washing pink out of my hair, when I arrive back in Bombay to fly home.

Hair report: pink to make to boys wink in the pink city.

Can I do a website with a web-cam in my room?
A certain person on the scene intermittently.
Fall off wagon from beginning of Feb.
Audio Eyes in Hoxton.
Pho lunch at the Westfield.
D’s housewarming in Brixton which is shut down by environmental health.
Emerald ring.
VG comes to stay in London! Love her xxxxx

Posted by spacebooth 17:56 Archived in India Tagged events Comments (0)

Back Home

All over

overcast 0 °C

Well I’m well and truly back in the big schmoke and have been for about three weeks. How do I feel? Well can be honest? SHIT SCARED! and basically not sorting anything out. I’ll explain from when I arrived back in December, and how strange the whole experience was. I got off the plane and was collected by E and N in E’s new blacked out Range Rover Vogue. Nothing changes! Except the car! The recession seems a distant world away. Is there really one going on?. I’ve missed E desperately whilst away and have vowed to let him organise my return shenanigans. I’m being whisked to Shropshire for the weekend and have been told that it’ll be just two of us. I’m sort of looking forward to this, because it all just feels so weird being back, and I’m not sure how I’ll cope with all my friends at once.

A number of things become clear over the weekend I spend in relative seclusion, in the deepest darkest corner of Shropshire, away from the maddening crowd. I’m staying with girlfriend S, in Barnes on my return, as my lovely flat is still rented out to my two flat mates. I’ve unfortunately come back to WW3 going on in the flat, and decide to put off the flat visit till next week. I just can’t cope with two friends who hate each other so much they aren’t talking. Who gets to that point? So it’s Friday morning and E and I set off once again the Range Rover with Pet heading west to Shropshire. We fly out of London and along the M40, past High Wycombe, through the ‘gash’, past the dreaming spires of Oxford. E takes a number of work related calls along the way, which I don’t worry about. He’s already explained that he’d tried to gather a gaggle of girls and mates who would have liked to come along for the weekend, but it’s the second last weekend before Christmas, and everyone is busy with parties and family stuff. There is a change of plan about lunch all of a sudden, and E suggests we stop at the pub after we’ve left the motorway in Shropshire. A light-bite of fish and chips, a pint for E a tasty bloody mary for me. Back on route we decide to stop into Much Wenlock, to pop to the butchers to get some dinner. E says we need four steaks (he’s feeling hungry)…I’m the most gullible person ever. Not a hint of suspicion. I can’t tell what a strange experience it is, standing in a village butchers in a queue of about six old fogies. They’re all in there, ordering their Christmas fare, turkeys, ducks, rolled beef joints, black pudding, sausages, bacon, pigs livers and chickens. I’m freezing and waiting my turn. “Ten rashers of smoked bacon and four sirloin steaks please”. I run back to the car and we head off. Finally we’re turning into the familiar drive and up towards the house. I open the gate over the cattle-grid, we glide past the duck pond with E's floating duck house (which has remained un-ducked since he built it, something to do with it not being moored). We stop at the front of the house and E rushes round the back to let us in. Again I notice nothing strange. There is a short delay. The front door opens and I drag myself, and bags into the house. It’s freezing. E wants me to see some new additions to the house upstairs. Some beautiful chandeliers from the Oratory (opposite Brompton Oratory), E and J's local restaurant, it has now closed. The Venetian glass sparkles in the winter light coming in through the attic windows. E opens the door to his bedroom, there acting as if it’s totally normal are S and R sprawled on the bed!! It’s a surprise! I’m totally gob smacked. I had no idea?! What a fool, four steaks indeed. Apparently the girls had left in the morning, but forgotten to leave S’s son’s clothing bag with the dad. So had gotten half way down the motorway towards shrop, when they had to turn back. This was the work call E had taken whilst we were driving. Which is also why we’d done the surprise lunch. It’s a fab surprise and I’m very happy to have such great mates. I am officially a dumb blonde.

The weekend turns into a total bender. After some dinner and lots of wine the night really kicks off with the fancy dress, more wine and beer than you can shake a stick at. We have a lack of ipod so we end up in the Christmas shed (flashing Santa’s sled and reindeer mean it’s always Christmas in the shed!). We have two gas heaters and my lap-top listening to classic old school. In, out, up, down, dancing badly to old school, and doing what we like best, which is more drinking and missions like E taking me to the loo in the potting shed, where he has hold me like a child so that I can pee into the gutter. I’m 34 years old. Why I don’t use the loo in the house is anybodies guess? Finally I slither into bed. The girls are neatly tucked up up in the spare room under about a ton of fancy dress, curly Cher wigs, and Tammy Wynette white tasselled leather jackets.

I have a hideous hangover. Which turns into Esther's thirsty lunch, I'm so thirsty I end up drinking about six pints of water. E reminds me of Leah Betts. I have to go to the loo to be sick, I’ve drunk too much water. The pub has been sympathetically restored since it flooded last year. No more pink ladies loo. Manage one mouthful of my lunch. Rather disappointed. God I feel too weird. The house behind the pub has not been knocked down. During the floods it fell down. It split in two and half fell away into the river. Leaving a perfectly preserved 60’s bedroom on the first floor exposed and in view of all traffic coming into Ludlow. The bed was all made up with a frilly bedspread and the pictures were still hanging on the flowery wall paper. Hilarious, and desperately sad all at the same time. The couple who the house belonged to, didn't have any insurance. We cut our losses and head into town to meet up with A and W. They’re in the Thai bar further into town. We head up the road past Zany Lady and the Feathers to meet up. We pass a brand new very cool shop called Material, which we pop into later. A and W are very well, and it’s lovely to see them. They will be joining us later for dinner. A quick drink, another pint of water for me. OMG what is going on with me? A fantastic book by Charlie Harper, which I covet. Red wine in glasses the size of double FF boobs. Speaking of boobs, A is all new and svelte! She looks amazing.

We head back to the house. S and R have driven the Boxter to Leominster to a thrift shop. They get back just after us, and have bought some very cool stuff. The party gets started. There is fancy dress in every corner of the house (from the night before). So you cannot escape the temptation of: leather chaps, gold hot pants, punk trousers, mermaid wigs, pirate trousers, tattoo sleeves, Elvis trousers, nuns whimples, the list is endless. Delicious dinner. The disco. Stumbling up and down the stairs of the basement. The Chinese paper lanterns we light and let fly into the night sky. A few crash and burn. We all end up in the front room, I live in the RAB puffa jacket that’s been up Aconcagua, it’s so cold. Finally I head to bed. I feel really ill, but have had a brilliant weekend…my friends have broken me in Shropshire. THANK YOU :o) !!

So I’ve been neglecting my duties and haven’t put finger to keyboard for too long. What have I been doing? Well exactly?! Back in London I have a few issues I need to sort out. I have the flat situation. Seeing M is very emotional after all this time. Last time seen = very hung over on way to airport in Buenos Aires in March! We end up going out, David D is playing in the east end I want to go. We head over and spend a cool evening rocking to his music. Then as a finale we end up in Favela Chic on Old Street and round the evening off with a last wasted boogie. Two guys approach us as the lights come on and ask if we want to join them at an after party? We’re too drunk so say no, but I exchange numbers with Will, who is apparently a brain surgeon?! M asks him for ID! Obviously he doesn’t have any.

I get over the hedonistic blur that pre Christmas London is, and head to Brussels for a reunion with the parents and sister. How lovely to be home. I love seeing mum and dad and S. God I’ve missed them. Wonderful Christmas, even the disastrous Christmas lunch of bleeding rib of beef, which has to be put back in the over for half an hour, warms the cockles of my heart. Then a ridiculous Danish Boxing day, where we drink far too much (pattern emerging?!). We all wake to monstrous hangovers. Which then turn into some kind of tummy bug. M and D are struck down and are properly poorly. I seem OK. Guts of steel from travelling? The imminent departure to the snow is delayed by a day, so we head down to Switzerland in the A6 on the Monday after Christmas. A neat 8 hour drive. Me sitting in the back feeling right at home. I love long car journeys? Why? There is tonnes of snow in the Alps and I love being here. The flat is its normal cosy self and we spend a super few days snowboarding and farting about. I head down to Geneva to see P and M for New Year. A fantastic gourmet knees up! I have a week back at home in Brussels to sort my head out, before I head back to blighty and my flat.

The thing which becomes apparent in this first month of being home: ON THE WAGON for me, welcome to sober 2009...

Hair report: Curly Cher or Stanley punk

I've missed my friends, I love them very much.
I'm still living out of a bag.
I seem incapable of hanging clothes in a wardrobe.
DOUBLE BED in my own room.
Bath Bath Bath.
Can't cook anymore.
Ribena.
Wotsits.
Head lice from India (don't ask)
Miss INDIA!
esthersroom on its way.

xxxxxxx

Posted by spacebooth 12:59 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged events Comments (0)

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