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Travel Photography, Cartagena to Guajira to Bogota.

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Sunday, April 01 2012

7 years, 8 months, 10 days

Villa de Leyva, Colombia

About Travel Photography,
Colors of the World.

Manfred is creator of ThisFabTrek.com, travel photography, a travel blog and a photography blog (a journey from 2004 to 2013). 'I set out to see the colors of the world, always I try to capture the colors'.

Seeing, is understanding, so I report and photograph, but formost enjoy and live those different conceptions of life (all that TV [and the web] cannot give). I reject jealousy, animosity, bigotry. Be free!

Manfred in the desert of the Western Sahara

The mind, when pondering at night and always asked those questions. What am I doing in corporate wonderland of bank, university, office or church? Who is the other animal asleep deep inside, the thinker, punk, creative, or Indian, vagabond and healer, maybe artist, writer, photographer, traveler, globetrotter? Oh God, dare you to think. When I saw the lies, gambles and manipulations I follow the old dream and set out for the journey of life lived, the journey to see the colors of the world.

During years on the road I have taken the turns as they came along, and realized one thing: Only such a small part of the planet can be explored and such a vast land and sea mass will always remain unknown, to me; many swamps, jungles, deserts and oceans will never be traveled. But then I am father of twin boys, Daniel and David, my most important, and I show them some of the wonders and colors out there.

ThisFabTrek, Photography and Journey, the Stories from the Road and Life around the World, stopped in August 2013 after more than 9 years, Love and Peace.

Last vehicle.

G20, Chevy Gladiator.

Chevrolet Gladiator G20, The boys in Cordillera Blanca, Peru.
The boys and Chevy van, Peru.

The G20, the vehicle that came to me for the Americas adventures.

6 wheeled Land Rover.

Land Rover Defender 6x6
Link to Foley

The vehicle of the Africa adventures, a Foley 6-Wheeled Land Rover Defender.

Before, the MB307.

Manfred and MB307
Journey, Middle East.

The vehicle of the Middle-East and North-Cape Journeys. See all vehicles.

Daniel and David with nanny Aisha, the best we ever had, black African Woman carrying white twin babies, in Bamako, Mali.

Current Vehicle 42,530km

Trekking 927km

Ferry 2,782km

Train 7,015km

Land Rover 73,588km

Other cars 182,824km

Travel Blog

contains Festival/Fiesta/Art photography.

"There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come." - Victor Hugo.

"What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it, to tell the tale." Living to Tell the Tale - Gabriel García Márquez.

"They never taught wandering in any school I attended. ... they never taught the art of writing a book, either. It's all so mysterious."
"Wandering is an art in itself. Wandering and writing don't mix"
"Writing demands commitment and if one thing your wanderer is allergic to is that very quality of commitment, for once one is committed he runs that very risk of failure ..." Wanderer - Sterling Hayden.

"Photography enables you to grasp a place first time round. ... Photography is a means of exploration, it's a vital part of travel, almost as essential as a car or a plane. " - Wim Wenders.

"The worst prejudice we acquire during our youth is the idea that life is serious. Children have the right instincts: they know that life is not serious, and treat it as a game..." , Egon Friedell.

"How far you gonna go. Before you lose your way back home" - Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World, Achtung Baby, U2.

"If you want to be a hero well just follow me." - Working Class Hero, John Lennon.

"When I think of all the things I have done, I know that it's only just begun." - I love you, Lou Reed.

"One does not escape the Sahara - the Sahara let's you go or not" - Touareg.

"Planet earth is blue and there`s nothing I can do" - This is Ground Control to Major Tom, David Bowie.

"Glory for the crazy people/in this stupid world" - Ahmed Fouad Negm.

www.thisfabtrek.com > journey > south-america > colombia > 20120401-villa-de-leyva

Cartagena, García Márquez country.

Map, Cartagena to Bogota, Colombia.

Download GPS (KML) track/waypoints.

Finally, South America, finally Colombia, I am in Gabriel García Márquez's country I have read his autobiography and I am reading One Hundred Years of Solitude. The Colombian Caribbean coastline with the Andean hinterland are the settings of so many of Márquez's novels, Latin America's inescapable repetition of history of corruption, class and racism, civil wars, coups and other fatal undertakings that end so often in doom, the narrative. Cartagena is where Márquez deserted from university for a career in journalism and writing.

Women action day Cartagena, Colombia.
Women action.
Walls on top of Castillo De San Felipe De Barajas, Cartagena, Colombia.
Castillo San Felipe Barajas.
Away from the tourist and colonial center, Cartagena market.
Grande Market in Cartagena.
Modern Cartagena.
Modern Cartagena.

Christina and I have rushed hard to Cartagena after shipping the van from Panama on a container vessel, only to find the ship to be late by at least a week. Gives us time for Cartagena and maybe to understand a bit Márquez's Caribbean soul.

Cartagena is a pearl, maybe the most beautiful and liveliest colonial city that I have seen around here, Salsa blast out of the Donde Fidel Havana club at 12 noon, its owner Fidel Lotteau is easily recognized in the midst of the early crowd, a grand man with white hair, he is pictured with every musician that ever entered Cartagena, all these photos decorate the brick walls up in his club. The music on the many overhead flat screens is high class, the rhythms sharp, the brass jazzy shrill, some dances shriek, some songs cry the sad old man's song of death of a friend. Old and new, we seem to be in the center of the musical world, and Caribbean Salsa is hottest in Columbia, Cuba and Puerto Rico.

An old dark skinned man in an all white Caribbean suit and white slippers, almost dressed like García Márquez, joins us at the bar and is more than happy to share his musical knowledge and friendship to Fidel L. with us, and why not - let's have a cerveza Aguila on an empty stomach. Our new friend is a writer, lives the Márquez myth, his name Jose Sarabia Canto, and I wonder what heritage the ~arabia in his name might hide.

Cartagena theatre.
Cartagena theatre.
Cartagena cathedral.
Cartagena cathedral.
Cartagena street, Colombian flag.
Cartagena street and flag.

Group photo Cartagena, Christina, Alex, Birgit, Julian, Manfred.
Christina, Alex, Birgit, Julian, Manfred.

So after a week we recuperate the van, it takes a whole cruel day in hot white sun, and who understands the complicated workings of a huge port and special zones and why one needs these hundreds of papers, thanks God we hired the right agent to help us out.

We say good-bye to the friends Alex and Julian from the past 2 weeks, and wonder when we would see them again. By the time of writing this, more than 2 months later, Alex has already sold his van in Bolivia and travelled to Hong Kong.

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Barranquilla, still García Márquez country.

Barranquilla cathedral, Colombia..
Barranquilla cathedral.

Saturday 24th of March we leave and drive to Barranquilla, where Márquez in 1950 was part of a literature circle, Barranquilla Group, whose environment gave him much inspiration for his literary career.

Just central Barranquilla seems not so safe to us, poverty and bumming in the streets, our American van may give an easy target. But we are new to Colombia, so maybe we don't understand the Caribbean yet?

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Santa Marta, Vallenato with out limits.

White Santa Marta cathedral, Colombia.
Santa Marta Cathedral.
Bay of Taganga, near Santa Marta, Colombia.
Bay of Taganga.

We set over the Rio Magdalena delta, on a highway. I remember reading that Márquez undertook this journey by boat with his mother, 1951 or so, and it should become the most eyeopening event in his entire carrier, back to where he was born, Aracataca, alias Macondo. It is this village where he set One Hundred Years of Solitude.

But we continue to Santa Marta, instead of Macondo, which is even marked on my GPS map, despite being a fictional name. Why didn't we go? There is no explanation!

Further on there is a trashy beach and bay, Taganga, hippies and drugs hang. Somewhere in the back of the coast are the snow peaks of the Santa Marta mountains, so near to the coast, 5,700m high, and so invisible behind white haze at this time of the year. It is around or over these mountains that the founding fathers of Macondo had travelled in One Hundred Years of Solitude.

We are back in Santa Marta and the police warns us not to take a camera and indicate where most of the robbings take place. But tonight all is cool, and distorted Vallenato bleats out of speakers, hard core, redneck-ish, without mercy, Vallenato must come distorted, it lacks the sophistication and sweetness of Panamanian accordion music.

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Guajira, Riohatcha to Maicao.

Detail of a mural in Riohacha, Colombia.
Riohacha mural.

That's how we miss Macondo, we take the northern, wrong way around the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, as I still dream of getting a glimpse of the snowy summits. We follow the coast for the Guajira, the land of the Wayuu people. Night is in Riohacha and I re-park quit often to find a secure spot. Then on east where gasoline near the Venezuelan border is damn cheap and sold from plastic containers in the streets. We are approaching the northern most point of South America which we would not reach, in Maicao, we headed south again, we just don't have the time, we are once more on a mission.

Cheap Venezuelan gaz.
Cheap Venezuelan gaz.
Guajira landscape, Colombia..
Guajira landscape.
Colombia landscape near  Valledupar.
Further south.
Destroyed oil palm plantations. Near Valledupar, Colombia.
Destroyed oil palm plantations.

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The Andean, the great separators.

Tanker accident.
Tanker accident.
Up the Andes, bad roads, lots of traffic..
Up the Andes.

South and south past tanker accidents and lots of truck traffic and road building, in Bucaramanga after first rains we turn left into the high Andean mountains where I have a hard time understanding the Spanish. Over in cosy Pamplona where the rains hit harder and the mist hangs deep and I start thinking about new car repairs, I am loosing again differential oil by the wheel-bearing gaskets (only 1000km earlier in Panama I've had that repaired).

South and south again direction Tunja and I am back checking and topping up diff-oil by myself. We cross some beautiful high Andean passes at 3,900m, and travel fantastically bad roads; it is the geography of Colombia that functioned for centuries as a divisor, and allowed the country to stay segregated in almost autonomous provinces for such a long time, the root for all the troubles they say.

Andean Valley de Rio Servita, Colombia.
Andean Valley de Rio Servita.
Yucca plants in Colombian Andes.
Yucca plants.
Andean Valley de Rio Servita, Colombia.
Road up on 3,900m, Colombian Andes.
High up in the Andes, a bus that did not make it, Colombia.
Bus that did not make it.
The Andes Oriental in Colombia, looking east.
Direction east.
Mist in the Andean valleys, Colombia.
Mist in the Andean valleys.

There is one delicious snack Colombians do so well and I cannot get enough from, empanadas, a roll of puffy potato or yuca pastry, stuffed with chicken, meat, rice, an egg occasionally, freshly baked out and cheap with spicy aji, sometimes on yogurt basis, and we get it just about everywhere.

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Villa de Leyva.

In Tunja, one more detour to Villa de Leyva which is top, colonial, todo tranquillo; we spend all day sitting on the Plaza Mayor and watch the clouds move over and by. Best spot is near the tienda, left in the corner that sells cheap beer, sun eventually sets to your right and lights up the church and the plaza.

But there is this old lady that speaks so many languages, she is nuts, and there is the other old lady that smokes cigarettes all the time, from a wealthy family and she is nuts too, tells us a guy, sad story; too many drugs when they were young we wonder?

Peak inside the church of Villa de Leyva, on golden altar, Colombia.
Peak inside church.
Villa de Leyva, still morning, opposite side, sun comes out, Colombia
Later sun's out.
Men discuss and joke on plazza of Villa de Leyva.
Men discuss on plazza.
An imposing sight, Villa de Leyva, in a Colombian Andean valley.
Such an imposing sight.
Priest Villa de Leyva, Colombia.
Man on bench tranquillo, main square Villa de Leyva, Colombia.
Man on bench.
Man and hat on main square of Villa de Leyva, Colombia.
Stepping ahead.
Villa de Leyva, night colors.
Night colors.
Look at Villa de Leyva main cobbled stone square, empty and cloudy in morning, Colombia.
Morning is cloudy and empty.
Skyshot, Villa de Leyva, Colombia.
Nightly Skyshot.

In Villa de Leyva there is one thing, it has many expensive fancy restaurants which we don't go to, and many not so cheap restaurants where food is bad tourist food. Just on the 5th day, a vegetarian restaurant run by some Hare Krishna members beats it all; the waitress, and the way she babbles away, is obviously brain washed, the food is soya meat-imitation, made to taste like meat, in a sandwich with processed melted cheese, a thin slice of tomato, I never have eaten anything more disgusting in my whole life. Why, when India is famous for excellent vegetarian food?

I really wonder, are they all nuts here? I do what I can, stop eating and we leave Villa de Leyva hungry.

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Boyacá Bridge.

Puente De Boyaca.
Puente De Boyaca.

El Puente de Boyacá is the location where in 1819 Simón Bolívar's republican army won the most important victory in the wars of independence against Spanish forces (wiki). The bridge has been maintained as a symbol of the Independence of all of South America.

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Northern Bogota.

Still hungry since Villa de Leyva we drive on till Bogotá and McDonald's. Bogotá, is a city 30-50kms long from north to south, 8 million people, a rainy climate, altitude is 2,500m, we are 5° north of the equator and it is almost freezing at night.

In downtown Bogotá we miss the usual historic colonial architecture, Bogotá rather reminds of a German city after WW2, and it has an equally horrific history. Massive riots, El Bogotazo, broke out on April 9th, 1948 after the murder of liberal presidential candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, and in only 10 hours some 5000 people found death and central Bogotá was destroyed by fire. Gabriel García Márquez, then still studying law in Bogota was only a few blocks away where it happened. His eyewitness account of the dark hours can be read in his autobiography 'Living to Tell the Tale'.

El Bogotazo just kicked it off, La Violencia (wiki) spread out to the whole country, a conflict between Conservatives and Liberals that would last 20 years and cost 200,000 lives. When other parts today of Bogotá are refreshingly modern, by God downtown, has not recovered!

Colombia's history in general had been marred by violence, first before 1948 for more than a century, by the break-up of Grand Colombia (wiki), the civil wars between Conservatives and Liberals, and the Thousand Days War (wiki) just being one, and the United Fruit Company massacres and cover-ups, and then after 1968 by the civil (guerrilla) wars between FARC (wiki) and rightwing paramilitary groups, and recently by the drug wars.

We wonder will it ever end?

On a good note, Bogotá is interesting, vast, we meet great people, are so well taken care of by Christina's friends. But we have little time as my boys arrive by plane and we leave!

Street, young, graffiti, Bogota.
Street, young, graffiti, Bogota.
Graffiti of nude lady, Bogota.
Graffiti, Bogota.
Man walks in front of shabby shop front, Bogota.
Grey downtown Bogota.
Downtown Bogota.
Bolivar Square, Bogota.
Bolivar Square.
Bogota mural.
Bogota mural.

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From the Museo Nacional.

Antahualpa, last Sapa Inca or sovereign emperor of the Tahuantinsuyu.
Simon Bolivar, National Museum, Bogota..
Simon Bolivar.
Murderous Chiquita Fruit Company, National Museum in Bogota..
Murderous Fruit Company.
Jorge Eliecer Gaitan Ayala, death mask, National Museum Bogota.
Death Mask of Gaitan.
Joven comunista, Enrique Grau Araujo, National Museum Bogota.
Joven Comunista.
Nino de Vallecas, Fernando Botera, National Museum Bogota.
Nino de Vallecas.
Fernando Botera painting National Museum Bogota.
Fernando Botera painting.

www.thisfabtrek.com > journey > south-america > colombia > 20120401-villa-de-leyva

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