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

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Gorgona

Gorgona

We arrived into Gorgona in the afternoon after about an hour's crossing. I looked for a whale the whole way, but didn't see any. We ate before leaving, then ate again when we got there. Dinner was another massive meal so I felt like all I did was eat the first day. It was challenging on my Spanish, too! No one spoke English at all. Wish I'd brought my notebook to review.

During breakfast on the second day, we could see a whale breathing off the coast--was proud of myself for spotting it. As I had to leave to prepare for my dives, I didn't see it jump, but how much of a cool welcome is that? On my way to the dive shop I spotted one of the legendary snakes. The dives were good-- lots of big fish and fish schools. We spotted some dolphins in between the two dives. Colombia has an excellent law that says no swimming with them, but as no one was looking we did try and jump in with them. They're smart, however, and swam away. It rained all afternoon although not as hard as the night before where the roof rattled in the storm.

There are very few places in the world you can go and be completely out of touch, but Gorgona is one of them. Colombia's Pacific side is wild and empty, so of course no cell phone towers, and Gorgona is far enough off the coast to miss most of that anyway. Not enough people are here for a tower of their own. A satellite dish is all that there is but that's not for us. It feels like the holiday I wanted... Total relaxation and peace. I can make peace with myself about whatever I need to, and have absolutely no distractions to do it. Will I do it, though, or will I just while away the afternoons sleeping and reading?

On day three, the sun peeked out from behind the still grey day... The morning was punctuated by seeing a whale before the first dive. Even though it's technically against the park rules, we moved the boat to jump in next to them. Wow! Three white humpback whales! Baby, mama, and a protector. They moved fast so it was hard to see them and stay with them, but definitely the highlight of my trip. The only thing that could have been better would be to come up during a dive and find them there. Two more fantastic dives with lots of fish and life, including a white tip reef shark hiding in a hole. In the afternoon we went for a walk around the old jail, closed in 1984. Amazing how much had grown! I did wonder how notorious the prisoners were, and what it would like to be incarcerated on an island that I had chosen to be holidaying on. Ended the day watching the whales swim off the beach swimming into the sunset. Lovely, but sadly no jumping, which I had missed the day before. I suppose I got to swim with them so I can't complain.

And the rain poured down! What a wet night. I got up to several more rivers, and wet everywhere. Nevertheless, the dives continued. Two other guests joined me, and it was a very wet ride over there (all around the island the long way around). We stopped for our snack on a turtle-hatching beach and had a chat to the researchers there. Saw lots of sharks at Montanita and a sunken statue... The statue even had a shark guarding it! The weather was clearer for the ride back, thank goodness! Went for a walk around the jail, but no more snakes, sadly. Juan made an amazing movie for me... Such a lovely guy.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Guapi, Colombia

The flight to Guapi is on a small former LOT plane from a hidden corner of Cali airport. As I checked in, so did 3 boxes of chicks. They chirped the whole flight while I smiled.

Guapi is only accessible by land and sea and we flew in over wild jungle with winding rivers and small canals dotted with only the most remote of homesteads. Its felt like our plane would clip the trees and the jungle encroached on the airport on three sides.

Only 6 women on  a flight of 40. Are the menu all travellers or is this their home? I suppose a lot of army.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Anglo Dances -- Bailamos!

At the Colegio Anglo Colombiano, the month of September in bach (secondary school) is dedicated to Dances. Homework is put on hold, students stay up till 1am rehearsing and fall asleep in class, and it all culminates in a house competition in three parts. The lower bach compete in a National Dance competition, and middle bach compete in an International Dance competition (this year's theme was Latin countries). They bring in professional choreographers and pay a fortune in costumes. Stage decoration was finally banned a few years ago because the cost just got too great!

However, the dance that everyone really wants to see is the Modern Dances. With the moves, lighting, costumes and all aspects coordinated by the senior students, it is a culmination of their school life, and life depends on it. Tantrums, stress, practices, no-show dancers, and everything else to manage, each dance is around 15-20 minutes long, occurs in several parts according to themes. They often have 5 or 6 costume changes in the 15 minutes and it is an impressive show!

Last year, myself and a few other teachers were coaxed into participating in one small part of Rodney's dance. Can't say I liked the costume much, or the pressure to attend every single practice no matter where or what time, so this year I was more than happy to be just a spectator.

I managed to record all of the dances this year and have copied the links to the shows below. Unfortunately, my camera was not intended for extended recording and the battery died before the first dance was even half over, which meant that the recordings were mostly on my phone, which while they gave some cool effects, did not have the highest stability or quality. In order of performance: Beatty, Hood, Rodney, Nelson. Winning order were Beatty, Nelson, Rodney and Hood.