“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Women rule in Colombia!

I can't make up my mind whether the women in Colombia are liberated or oppressed. In so many ways it amazes me just how free they are (and how free I feel here), and yet the machismo is still here, and there are times when the women seem like they're completely dominated by men.

How are they dominated?
  • Almost all women wear makeup all the time, and thick mascara is the norm, even when doing things like diving.
  • High heeled shoes, all the time, everywhere, as pointy and stilleto as you can possibly find
  • Thongs... my ordinary knickers feel very wide...
  • Most women, especially in the city, are a man's typical dream of sexy with long glossy hair, sexy bodies, etc
  • Plastic surgery is the norm... women even get their bums enhanced.
  • The Medellin art museum scattered throughout powerful photos of women abused

How are they liberated?

  • At the coast, especially Cartagena, they let it ALL hang out. Flab rolls (and rolls) hanging out, giving a new definition to midriff
  • Women wear the skankiest clothing everywhere, all the time. Anywhere else, they would be labelled as prostitutes
  • Their mannerisms show just how much power and strength the women have. The voices you hear are not men, but women demanding equal rights
  • The men are gentlemen, treated with respect. So many lovely men have been courteous and plesant. There are no leers, jeers, whistles or other noise
  • The Salsa dancing is a sensual dance where the women can take charge just as much as the men
  • The mood, the vibe, the appearance of equality.

Who knows which is more true... I really need to ask a Colombian woman what she thinks.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Colombia so far!!

So I am sitting on a freezing porch in the middle of coffee country in a charming little village called Salento. My Spanish is pocito pocito, but a lot more than when I arrived. Have had a fantastic first few days. Sadly, the first two were finishing my yucky assignments. Still have half a one to finish, but am not going to stress about it.

Arrived late on Tuesday night, and didn´t even leave the appartment that day... just sat on the internet and mucked around. H&S have a fancy appartment in the Northern part of town, and I saw a fantastic little supermarket just around the corner. The next night H&S took me out for drinks, dinner at Kathmandu (doesn´t every city have a restaurant called that?), then a beer at the English pub around the corner. I was charmed by Bogota's efficiency and modernity---but I hadn't been downtown yet! On Friday I ventured out to the Montserrate church on a hill. Caught a teleferica (gondola) to the top and of course it was covered in mist so couldn't see the magnificent view of Bogota.

Friday night was the night out. Fantastic dinner at a meat place--everywhere here is a meat place!! Hayley tried some udder--it was a bit like fatty sausage, but she says she'll have shuddering visions of it every time she looks at a cow! I had chicken! We then went to this great restaurant where everyone began to dance in between the tables. With our bottle of rum and cokes a plenty, we danced the night away--what fantastic music it is!!!

Saturday, rather hung over, H & I went to see the Salt Mines in a nearby town. Lovely little village on the rolling green hills (the greenness and coolness here amazes me!). The Salt Cathedral is an enormous modern structure under ground that we toured, before returning somewhere closer for "lunch". Another raging happy exciting place--dancing aplenty and festivities. Latin Americans really know how to party! And wow can they dance!

Today I took the bus from Bogota to Armenia to Salento. We must have gone through around 20 checkpoints, but never stopped. The ruddy-faced young soldiers are everywhere, though a couple who are motorbiking around the world said that when they were stopped all they wanted was money, so perhaps they're not so "safe" after all. The people in hostels really are fantastic. I swear there must be at least 10 nationalities here... all ages, and all interesting stories.

I wonder if these villages called Montenegro, Armenia and Circasia are called so because the people from there came here? Second puzzling question I had today... do horses get altitude sickness, and what would the symptoms be?

Anyway, to bed and warmth for me. 6.30am start tomorrow for a trip to see the highest altitude palm trees in the world, supposedly. Apologies that this is so general, I'm more tired than I thought! More later, and pictures to come!