“To travel is to possess the world”

Clouds have descended permanently. The day is damp and grey. Thunder showers are predicted for later. I hope so as it is really dry.

Today I’ll harvest a few tomatoes. Okay, I’ll harvest two. They are red and beautiful on the vines in the raised garden I had built this year. My cucumbers are also growing. I expect they’ll be ripe when I’m gone.

Birgit asked about my trip to South America. I guess I’ll give you a few highlights. I did all the planning from all sorts of books, and my roommate and I left for Venezuela toward the end of June in 1976. She spoke no Spanish, but I spoke enough to get us by. I joked and said if we played our cards right, I could sell her, and we could come home with more money than we left with-she was not amused. We stayed in Caracas a few days then took a bus to Merida, in the foothills of the Andes. Back then, there were few tourists in South America, and we were the only non-Venezuelans on the bus. On the way we saw a crashed bus which had missed a hairpin turn and gone over the mountain. I heard muerte when the driver stopped to talk to one of the police along the road. I didn’t translate for my friend. We stopped once in a small mountain town and were told to try the fish. It was the most amazing trout I’d ever tasted.

We went to Merida because we wanted to ride the world’s highest cable cars. The next morning we were in line and waiting for the car to come back down the mountain when the wind started. It was fierce enough that they stopped the cars from going up the mountain, and those already there were stranded. We walked around Merida and went to the market but ended up leaving a couple of days later. The cars still had not gone up the mountain. We took a bus to Colombia and ended up at a small town near the border. The hotel was disgusting. I swore I was dirtier after my shower than before it. We left the next morning for Bogota where we stayed in a relatively expensive hotel compared to what we had been paying for the other hotels, and that start our pattern. We’d stay in dumps for a few days then in really nice hotels for the next few days.

I’ll give you the highlights of each country as I remember them.

In Bogota we went to the Gold Museum. The most striking memory I have of visiting that museum is being closed into a dark vault with thick doors. Nobody moved in the dark. When they turned on the lights, we were surrounded by cases filled with Incan gold. Every one gasped.

Another stop was the cathedral in the salt mine in Zipaquíra, about an hour or two from Bogota. I was amazed that the salt was black and asked a guard how the salt got white. He went away then came back and said we had permission to tour the factory. Off we went in his official car. We donned hard hats and walked all over the factory. I remember two things: how awful I look in a hard hat and how my mouth was salty the whole time from the dust. He gave us a chunk of salt more black than white which I still have.

I found the English-bookstore in Bogota, and we ate some great local food in hole-in-the-wall restaurants. I don’t know other than carne what we ate. It was good, and that’s all that mattered.

We took another bus and were on our way to Ecuador. The travelog will continue another day.

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18 Comments on ““To travel is to possess the world””

  1. olof1 Says:

    Thunderstorms comes and goes here so I can’t watch the Olympics at all. In between storms it gets awful hot and wery damp and it doesn’t help taking a shower 🙂 🙂

    That’s the way to travel! I really can’t understand those that takes an all inclusive trip?! Might as well just stay at home and go to a local spa 🙂 🙂 🙂

    It is those small odd places that are fun to visit and every now and again a bigger city to get some nice showers 🙂 I’m not interested in gold but that salt mine would be fun to visit, or any salt mine to be honest, I’ve heard they have some really fantastic ones in Poland.

    Have a great day!
    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Birgit,
      You were my inspiration to write. I’ll do one very few days until we hit Rio and head home.

      These are great links. I love all the pictures from the Gold Museum. That place was amazing-sunglasses would have helped.

      I am still disappointed that I didn’t make it on those cable cars. I had a route and stuff to see on that route, and that cable car was the only thing we missed.

      • Birgit Says:

        Olympia in London on TV, South America on your blog
        and now I’m leaving for a moroccan-algerian-german concert.
        Kind of an international day for me today 😉

  2. Hedley Says:

    Pete goes tonight and we are sporting our VanDerKaay USA shirts…come on Pete !

    • Kat Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      Nothing better than having a local boy to cheer for!! I’ll be here doing the same!!

      • Hedley Says:

        Enjoy ! Lots of excitement. We will be watching the bikes tomorrow and then on to Beach Volleyball on Monday
        Watch for Eric Shanteau this evening Mrs MDH and I walked in to the Olympic Stadium with his wife and Father-in-law.
        Amazing ceremony last night and without digital enhancements, God Bless the NHS.

  3. Bob Says:

    South America is an amazing place. I have only been to two cities, Sao Paulo Brazil and Santiago Chile. Both cities remind me a lot of being in Europe. Santiago was beautiful and Sao Paulo was big, ugly and industrial, at least the parts I visited. However, the people in both cities were very friendly and very nice. I am looking forward to reading your posts on your impressions of South America.

    After the opening ceremony in China four years ago, it was a difficult task for London to even come close to that extravaganza in size, artistry or excitement. I watched the entire event last night to be sure to not miss Paul McCartney singing Hey Jude.

    I think it was unfortunate that the IOC decided not to give a moment of silence in memory of the Israeli athletes who were killed 20 years ago in a terrorist attack. I assume they didn’t want to offend the countries that have failed to make peace in the middle east.

    • Kat Says:

      Bob,
      When I was traveling in South America, I saw only two Americans the entire eight weeks. SA just wasn’t the spot for American sightseers, and I couldn’t have been happier. That has all changed. In Cusco they even now run a tourist train to Machu Picchu, and there are booked trips with busses filled with Americans. I’m glad I traveled when I did.

      Given how tense the Middle East is now with the overthrows and revolutions, I think the IOC was wise in not adding fuel to all those burning fires. It would have been a wonderful gesture but I understand why it didn’t happen.

      I liked the opening ceremony though the health part was a bit strange. The industrial revolution with the smoking stacks was amazing, a visceral experience with scent. Props and kudos to the Queen for her spot with Mr. Bond. That was wonderful. All in all, I thought they well presented themselves during that ceremony.

  4. Zoey & Me Says:

    Black salt in squares was sent to me one Christmas from a friend who worked over there and thought it the perfect gift. I never ate into it. Not sure what to do with it. You’ll see more Americans now, especially those on Social Security. Some towns are a haven for us yanks. Really good post today Kat.

    • Kat Says:

      Z*Me,
      I was a bit put off by the black salt so I just saved the chunk. I can’t imagine much of SA is all that appealing to Yanks. I see more in the Caribbean islands or Latin America. Brazil maybe.
      Thanks, Z&Me.

  5. Ted Says:

    Kat, speaking of fish, some of the best fish I’ve had has been fried corvina (sea bass) in the highlands of Ecuador. I go there every winter since 1997 with a medical mission and order corvina at least a couple of times. The first time I had it was at a roadside “truck stop” just outside of Cuenca, for breakfast, rubbing shoulders at an outdoor table with drivers and locals. Rice and fried plátanos with it, and what an introduction to South America. By the way, I live on an island off the coast of Maine and I often don’t get fish as fresh as they get it in the Andes. I don’t understand. I’ll be looking for your next episodes.

    • Kat Says:

      Ted,
      Thanks for adding sea bass as that I know. The corvina would have had me running to Google. I remember those “truck stops” as the busses too would stop if it was a long trip. One was in the middle of nowhere but all the lights lit up the night.

      That trout never leaves my memory. I swear it came from the mountain lake and immediately to the stove and then my plate.

      Quito was my favorite city. We stayed in the old city near the monastery, but I remember the longest walk to the new city to find the only English bookstore. I don’t remember having fish though I did try Guinea pig. I was put off at first but decided I needed to try one of their national dishes.

  6. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    I’m afraid the most foreign place I have visited was Montreal. Unless you want to count Washington DC. 🙂

    • Kat Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      I’d definitely count Washington, DC!

      I got bitten by the travel bug when I was in the sixth grade. Marty Barrett used to go to England to visit his grandmother. I was totally jealous and vowed to out-travel Marty.

      We had gone to Canada when I was 16, and that was it. No one traveled in my family unless they were in the service. I was the first to go when I went to Africa. Now I have cousins who have lived overseas, in Naples and Amsterdam.


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