Page 2 of El Gringo Viejo Travel Blog Posts

Oceans and Seas January 7th 2016

Jan 05, 2016 Los Gringos Viejos are now onboard MS Amsterdam, docked in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. That MS does not stand for Miz; it stands for Motor Ship, though she is of feminine grammatical gender. She will sail tonight about midnight, down across the Caribbean to Costa Rica and Panama, through the canal, then on south to French Polynesia (8 days at sea after the canal). There will be four island stops, then finally on to New Zealand and Australia. We disembark at Sydney, in sight of the famous Opera House, after 36 days at sea. MS Amsterdam then continues on and on, through many Asian stops, around the cape of Africa, across the Atlantic, and back to Ft. Lauderdale after 111 days at sea. We suspect our 36 days will be plenty. This is our ... read more

North America » United States » Michigan » Detroit August 8th 2015

Caro amigos de los Gringos Viejos: This is a little late for the Colombia blog, since we have been back in Detroit for six months now. However, I do now have the hippo video from the old Escobar menagerie that I finally figured out how to send to you. It is not great, but maybe some of you will find it interesting. It was shot by our driver Diego from a perch on top of the fence that would have been fatal to me. TravelBlog does not let you post videos directly any more, so you have to get them onto YouTube, and then send a YouTube address to everybody. Here it is: As for travel advice, we advise everybody to come to Detroit in August. The summer has been just about perfect. We have ... read more

South America » Colombia » Antioquia February 24th 2015

Colombian food Cousin Steve Engel asks about the food in Colombia. Here in Medellín we have been well fed, because our little neighborhood is full of small foreign restaurants: Italian, Israeli, French, Indian, Mexican, American, etc. None is bad; some are really good. The best ones have free valet parking and a clientele that drives in from other parts of the city. Generally, Colombian food derives from Spanish food, not Mexican; i.e., it never has chili in it. There is one Colombian restaurant that we have been to a few times, called Tres Tipicos, for the three native concoctions that they serve. The one I like best is a long-cooked tripe stew called Mondongo, similar to a Mexican menudo, always served in Mexico with tortillas, lime slices, chopped onion, dry hot chili, and dried Mexican oregano. ... read more
27. Ribs sign

South America » Colombia » Antioquia February 22nd 2015

Rio La Vieja, and Mangosteens We are just back from a rafting expedition here in the Zona Cafetera. This region is known for its coffee, but there are other crops grown here, very tall wax palms and also a lot of bananas, and many unfamiliar fruits such as mangosteens. All the bananas grow inside blue plastic bags, an incredible miracle of modern genetic engineering. But bananas are not a Big Ag monopoly, as in Guatemala. Nearly every farm that grows coffee also grows bananas; it's something about how the the coffee year and the banana year fit together. The banana groves are not as monoculturally intense here as the Dole and Chiquita groves we saw in Guatemala. When Guatemala falls prey to some banana disease that wipes it all out, maybe Colombia will still have bananas. ... read more
111. Old Gringos on raft
112. Lunch on a sandbar
113.  Our pole man : gold panner

South America » Colombia » Antioquia February 22nd 2015

This is an addition to Hacienda Nápoles, Part 2, about the hippos. I just now got Diego's video of the "small" hippo penned up near the refreshment stand, begging for carrots and potatoes. I don't know what TravelBlog will do with it, but I am about to find out. Thanks to Diego Diaz Gonzales, our excellent driver and guide. His address is, if you ever need personalized transport in and around Medellín. He is excellent. Later: TravelBlog no longer accepts videos. You have to put them on YouTube, and reference the YouTube address in your blog. I tried, but the internet connection here is unstable, and I could not stay connected to YouTube long enough to upload it. We will be back in a week, and I will try to do it from Detroit. The ... read more

South America » Colombia » Antioquia February 20th 2015

The Cafetera region The heart of the coffee country is in the foothills of the Cordillera Central. Leaving Medellín heading south we climbed steadily for about an hour, the vegetation changing constantly with altitude. It was all very tropical and lush, but there were subtle changes. The roadside fruit stands started displaying fat bunches of bright red berries called corsos, but we did not stop to try any. Maybe on the way back. About noon, we reached the top of the Cordillera Central at a little place called La Pintada, at about 8000 feet, and we stopped for lunch. Beyond La Pintada the road followed the crest of the Cordillera for about 50 miles, with fantastically steep scenery on both sides of the road. We passed through two linear villages, where there was room beside the ... read more
91. Carol, near pool
92. Me, with coffee from the farm
93.  Pool house, looking toward bedrooms

South America » Colombia » Medellin February 16th 2015

Music and Flowers Last night we had the pleasure of hearing the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in live performance just a few blocks from our house in Detroit. They are doing a Tchaikovsky Festival, with our own great music director Leonard Slatkin conducting. We heard it in Medellín through the magic of the internet; they are now broadcasting their performances electronically for the whole world. You yourself could connect, at . I take e-mail and blogging all for granted now, but the live performance of our own home boys somehow seemed extraordinary. Actually, it is all extraordinary. We are the first people in the history of civilization to experience this. Medellín is a wonderful place in many ways, but there is no orchestra or theater that we have been able to find. In all our travels, ... read more
11. Carol and our driver Diego
12. Water jets
13. Stepping columns

South America » Colombia » Antioquia February 12th 2015

Guatapé and El Peñol: A lake and a big rock On a day trip yesterday we saw some surprising things. The target was a big rock and the lake that provides water for Medellín. It was, of course, gorgeous; that's why people go there; and Carol climbed a good way up the rock. But first, some news: You may recall that a few days ago we visited Hacienda Nápoles to see the feral hippos and the old Escobar house, which we in fact did not see because it was being converted into a museum of criminality (so they said.) Now comes news that two days after we were there the house suddenly collapsed into a heap of rubble. News reports say they decided to demolish it, but this certainly does not fit with what we heard ... read more
81. The big rock
82. Carol starting up
83. Bombed Escobar villa

South America » Colombia February 9th 2015

8. A little geography of Colombia We knew very little about the geography of Colombia when we got here, but we are learning. Cartagena, on the Caribbean, is colorful but hot and unpleasant. Big bad Bogota is high and cold and unpleasant. But Medellín is just right just about all the time, the "City of Eternal Spring". We really don't feel impelled to leave this climate for very long. I remember a perfect sonnet by Dorothy Parker that prefers the North Atlantic to the Caribbean: "This level reach of blue is not my sea; Here are sweet waters, pretty in the sun, Whose quiet ripples meet obediently A marked and measured line, one after one. This is no sea of mine that humbly laves Untroubled sands, spread glittering and warm. I have a need of wilder, ... read more
2. Three Cordilleras
3. Cordilleras topographical
4. Land Use

South America » Colombia » Antioquia February 2nd 2015

The other reason we went to see Hacienda Nápoles is the private menagerie that Escobar built for his children. These words may call up in your mind a small thing that you could walk through in an hour or so. This is far from the case. The menagerie covers most of the 7600 acres of the estate, with a road that winds from exhibit to exhibit (photo 70) , some of which are truly enormous habitats where the animals live almost as they would in the wild. The tiger habitat covers many acres, with both forest and grassland, bounded by a good tall fence. It started with two tigers, but by now there are many. They are hard to see in the daytime (we saw nothing) but at night they go on the prowl for goats ... read more
71. Hippo feeding time
72. Four hippos under water, waiting
73. First hippo coming to eat

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