This, That, Next

Day Trip to Santa Fe

“This has been an almost perfect day.” I quipped to my friend Rob from Amsterdam, “Getting out of the city, having a great Spanish lunch and wandering around Santa Fe has been such fun.”

Downtown Santa Fe
Downtown Santa Fe

Before lunch we had wandered around and acted like tourists, which is about all there is to do in Santa Fe. And since the place is so small it doesn’t take long.

The paella – think seafood mixed with rice – at Sabor Espanol was fantastic. Camilo – our attentive waiter – made our lunch even more interesting as he chattered away while diving up the food. And from the menu I learned that the recipe for paella was concocted to make use of the leftovers for the week. It is sort of the Irish stew of Spain.

Camilo serving up the food.
Camilo serving up the food


Then we got on the mini-van to go back to Medellin. There was a little girl of about two who cried and sniveled while her mother played with her phone and ignored the brat. No, no, no, this simply wouldn’t do.

So in my best teacher voice – with my left eyebrow raised for added effect – I stared at the kid with a piercing look and said, “Little girl, enough.” She stopped mid-whine. I didn’t waved in my gaze and she shriveled up.

The woman beside me laughed and patted my knee in approval. The mother suddenly remembered she had a child.

Children in Latin America are generally indulged and caregivers rarely discipline them. Rob – who is a psych nurse – figures I may have traumatized the little girl forever. She may well go running down the street when she sees red-headed foreigners. Perhaps, but at least we had a quiet trip back.

There are more Santa Fe happy-snaps at the end of the blog.

Introducing Raul

That is amazing, “Rob commented. “When Raul sees you his eyes light up enough to brighten the whole street.” Raul – whom I think is 92, but he could be 82 – spends his time wandering about the streets in el centro of Medellin.

He can’t walk properly so he sort of shuffles along. Nor can he talk, instead he mumbles and drools. His sister is in even worse shape and walks with a cane, but we don’t see her much anymore as she is generally sick at home. They must have money to pay a housekeeper as Raul is always dressed in clean clothes and smells like he has had a recent shower.

It started out that I would shake his hand when I saw him. Then it moved on to a quick hug. Now I ask him how he is and we hug for about a minute or so.

Raul and J.
Raul and J.

People have asked how I can possibly hug a drooling old man. My answer is that it takes nothing on my part and it makes his evening a bit better. When I’m old and decrepit – some might argue I’ve already reached that stage – I hope people will continue to hug me.

Such is the street culture of the neighbourhood of Boston.

The World of Visas

My next move – or at least that is the plan – is to relocate to Lima, Peru at the end of August. Medellin is a great place and I would stay if it wasn’t for the visa problem.

There are 17 different kinds of visas in Colombia. Alas, I only qualify for two: tourist and student. In most countries in the world, people can get a 90-day tourist visa, exit the country and re-enter for another 90-days. Annoying at times, but do-able.

In Colombia, however, people can get a 90-day tourist visa, and extend for another 90-days. The law is that unless people are married to a national, have 200K to invest in a business or have a huge pension they are stuck and have to leave the country for half the year.

At the end of August last year I became a student at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana. When that visa expired I did a run to Panama to get a fresh stamp for 2016. It expires on September 8, nine days after I get back from Canada. So although I could become a student until 2017, it is too expensive and the classes just aren’t worth it. And riding the bus is a teeth -jarring experience. The drivers think they are Formula One drivers and go lurching around the corners and flat out on the straight sections.

I was in Lima in 2012 and really liked it. And the food is so good. Can one ever have too much ceviche – seafood cooked in lime juice? I don’t think so.

In Peru they will issue 183 day visas – about six months — at the border.  At the end of that time I can scoot across the border to Ecuador or visit friends in Chile and re-enter for another six months.

I want to find a small apartment in the Barranco – which means Bridge of Sighs — area of town. It is considered the “bohemian” barrio so I figure I should fit in reasonably well. I still break out in a red rash and get itchy when I think about the suburbs.

So now I expect kith and kin to mark Lima on their travel maps and start planning a visit. The only people who came to see me in Medellin were Amber, her two guy friends and Rob. My cousin, Linda, did get reasonably close when the cruise she was on stopped in Cartagena.

By the time you get to Lima I should have the town sussed out and will be able to take you to all the interesting places. Ah yes, another adventure waiting to happen.

Pics of Santa Fe

Locals stroll around.
Locals stroll around.



The main square.
The main square.
Cobble stone streets don't make for good walking.
Cobble stone streets don’t make for good walking.
Rob and J doing selfies in a mirror.
Rob and J doing selfies in the mirror.



The church.
The church.
Toasting our trip and the food.
Toasting our trip and the food.












An old door.
An old door.