Saturday, November 30, 2013

Day 4

December 1, 2013

This morning it was very cloudy, low visibility, no sun.  Craig and Deiter diligently watch the weather maps to determine if the sun will ever come out.  Leisurely morning with another lovely breakfast, some Tai Chi overlooking the valley, and several hours of bird watching. There is an art to watching for must first find one flying in to roost briefly atop a tree limb, telephone pole, fence, or wire, then pick up the binoculars to see if it is within range, if it is...quickly put the binoculars aside, grab the camera, zoom in and hope the shot is good.  You can then review the pages of the "Birds of South America" book to attempt to identify the species.  So far we observed various hummingbirds and birds that fall into the flycatcher species.  I actually witnessed one catching a fly! Ahhh yes, it's definitely an art.
By mid-afternoon the sun truly did appear so the men were off to the slope. I on the other hand caught up on some reading and enjoyed a brief siesta.  Life is good! Below is my view for bird watching.  In the distance, to the left is the site of the flying slope.  Photos of the pilots doing their thing will follow when we have our first full day of flight and I make the trek to the slope.

Day 3

Saturday, November 30
Day 3

Yesterday was Craig's first flight. All he could say was WOW! He is learning to slope fly the hard way!  He said he is becoming more comfortable and throwing his glider into oblivia instead of being in a more controlled environment like aero tow.  He definitely is feeling much better as he was able to get in a siesta and then a full nights sleep!  I'm sure the Vitamin E I had him taking definitely helped to elevate his blood oxygen levels. (I guess it pays to travel with a naturopath) He was able to make the long trek to the flying field (as it is not accessible by car) and, though it took some time, able to make the steep climb back up the slope to home.  It is helpful that all we have is time and not on any schedule. :)

I took a walk (definitely more like a climb!) with Marcela and met some of the neighbors. Everyone is so friendly and very willing to help me with my Spanish.  There were about 6 young children running around in sacks...sack races!  They were having a blast!  It brought back memories of when I was a child having potato sack races at Grandmas house during the annual family get-together.  This is the time of year that would be our equivalent to summer vacation for the school children.  It is also their Christmas season and there are lights and decorations everywhere!  At any time of the day, we can hear fireworks as well.  Good thing we were warned by Deiter or else we may have head for the nearest cover! 

In the evening we had a BBQ.  This consisted of fried green bananas and pork on the grill.  It was interesting to see the process of how to make the fried green bananas.  You must first slice the very hard peel off the banana, then slice them into bite size pieces, deep fry the pieces, comes the fun part....smash the pieces between 2 hinged cutting boards covered in plastic to create round, flattened cakes, then fry again.  Then top them off with a special sauce that was incredible and enjoy. We could've made a meal of these.  The sauce was so tasty we decided to top our pork slices off with it as well.  Very yummy!

This morning it is raining and we are told that it is not common for the rain to last very long or to rain more than once during the day.  In the 4 years Deiter and Marcela lived here, they have only seen that happen only 3 times!   I consider it good luck!  :)  it was kind of surreal to look outside in the morning and the only thing we could see was the main house next to our apartment (more like a cottage)...we were completely enveloped in fog.  We are expecting the rain to stop soon and possibly go into Medellin for some sight seeing. Of course, in the afternoon, there will be more flying.

We did take a trip into town today and had lunch at a favorite spot of Deiter and Marcela.  We enjoyed people watching, seeing the local market, and seeing the town all set up for the festivities tonight. We all agreed we would rather see the town before the "party" started because once it begins tonight, it will be very crowded and very loud.  We will most assuredly see and hear the party from our "morro" (hillside/mountain).  Tomorrow night we will see the fireworks from our birds eye view!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Day 2

Friday, November 29, 2013
Day 2
Sleep was sparse as Craig had some trouble acclimating to the elevation.  I was very anxious with thoughts of what the upcoming days would be filled with.  Filled with?  I know I should have been reveling in the fact they were going to be filled with whatever we wanted and for the most part, my plan for this retreat was to do mostly nothing.  Easier said than done but I am working on it.  I do realize it will take a day or two to get into the groove; after that I'm certain I will thoroughly enjoy our time away from our everyday life with work, home, even family.

Breakfast...traditional Arepas!  A corn tortilla with some sort of white, mozzarella like cheese and scrambled eggs like I've never had before.  It was really, really good.  Marcella and their cook, (a local paisa)  looked at me like I was "loco" when I explained I do not drink coffee.  I guess it's totally unheard of in this part of the world.


Thursday, November 28, 2013
Day 1
Our day started at 3:00 am to get to BWI in time for our flight.  The airport was very quiet and we had no problems with our luggage.  Craig was concerned about his batteries that he knew he needed to carry on board but the TSA found no problem with them.  The flights from Baltimore to Ft. Lauderdale and then on to Medellin were really uneventful.  The real adventure started when we arrived in Medellin and went thru Immigration.  Immigration Officer number 1 stamped our passports   relatively quickly after we presented the letter of invitation our host Deiter thoughtfully obtained for us from the
Immigration Officer number 2 was the one we were really concerned about. We could have been made to open all our luggage for inspection but when we presented the letter of invitation, he smiled and nodded and said proudly..."You are welcome to Colombia!"  We responded with "mucho gracias!"  We then proceeded with all our luggage to find our hosts, Deiter and Marcela.
The journey from the airport in Medellin to Girardota was interesting. The main highway was 2 lanes and splattered with ninja like motorcyclists zooming in and out of traffic without regards to the actual lanes.  We did encounter some construction so at times traffic was halted.  During a time when traffic was at a slow crawl, a taxi passed us on the right and we heard a bang.  We quickly realized the taxi had come along beside us to try to rip off the mirror of Deiter's truck!  Craig had his elbow hanging out of the window and we were fortunate his arm was not hit.  Marcela told us to make sure to keep our arms in the vehicle, especially since we were wearing watches, as it would not surprise them if someone came along side of us and tried to steal our watches!  We got the license number with the intention of reporting it to the local transit policia. When we did report it, we were in the wrong district and there was nothing they could do about it.   Shortly after this incidence, we got our first awe inspiring view of the valley of Medellin. We were speechless.  Still driving along the 2 lane highway, we looked to the east and saw lush, green mountainous ridges dotted with coral roof covered homes and some tiny, dirt covered pathways that Deiter explained was a shortcut to where they lived.  He had decided ahead of time he would stick to the highway because the traveling would be too rough for our first trip.  As we got closer to Girardota and the place that we would be spending the next 11 days, our curiosity, along with my anxiety, began to peak. We continued up, up, up and winded thru many, many bumpy barely 2 lane roads. As we initiated our final ascent to the home of Deiter and Marcela, we were both speechless.  When Deiter and Marcela announced we had arrived,  they unlocked the gate, pulled the truck into the drive, and we got our first view!  Did places like this really exist???  We were amazed!  Here we were, like it or not.  Time to settle in and relax.