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South America » Colombia » Manizales
December 20th 2011
Published: September 30th 2017
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Bandeja Paisa ...Bandeja Paisa ...Bandeja Paisa ...

... the traditional worker's lunch of the region. Beans, fried egg, minced meat, chunk of hairy pork that was 95% fat, sausage, and an arepa, a dense pancake made from corn. This particular arepa had a similar texture to styrofoam. The avocado was a nice touch, but was nowhere near as good as the ones we had recently in Mexico. A super heavy dish, probably not the best food to eat after feeling a bit ill upon arrival in Bogota - perhaps a symptom of mild altitude sickness? Pretty mediocre dish, but what do you expect for airport food? The good stuff will be found soon enough! The highlight of the meal was actually the juice - lulo, a citrus-tasting fruit. Good stuff! There's always some new fruit to try in South America.
Geo: 5.06713, -75.5183

Landing in Manizales - unbelievable! The airport's location is absolutely amazing - stepping out of a small plane and on to a runway smack dab in the middle of lush green hills. An incredible feeling, stepping onto Colombian soil for the first time and being fortunate to step out in such a beautiful spot. A deep breath of fresh air was the perfect cure for the malaise that sometimes sets in after a long day of travel after a bad night's sleep. And as much as the fresh air cleared the mind, the gorgeous vistas energized the body, with the heart racing just a little bit, pumping a few more drops of blood through the system. I'm in Colombia!!!

But with every high, there's inevitably a low - the unthinkable happened today ... I received word that I had lost someone very special to me. We've been through so much together these past five and a half years - there have been a few bad times, which were overshadowed by the countless good times and laughs we've shared. I was at a loss for words ... to lose someone so unique, so special, someone who had been there every time
Colombian Equivalent to Starbucks ...Colombian Equivalent to Starbucks ...Colombian Equivalent to Starbucks ...

... Juan Valdez, the largest chain of coffee shops in Colombia. It's the land of coffee, after all!
I needed her, someone who offered unconditional love and support. To think that we would never hold each other ever again ... I was inconsolable.

Her name is Becky - Becky the backpack, my faithful companion. Countless days of travel together, and now ... she's gone, and I have no idea where. The bastards at Avianca Airlines couldn't tell me either, but they figure she lost her way somewhere in Bogota. The thought of her wandering alone through a strange city sent shudders up my spine ... how can I live without her???!?! Why? WHY??? WHY!!??!!!!!?

Luckily for me, a university town like Manizales offered the only thing that would dull my pain - lots and lots of Colombian beer in the Zona Rosa, what Colombians call the nightlife district. Bouncing aimlessly from place to place, drowning my sorrows ... I felt so empty, so cold ...it may have been because Becky contains all my clothing so I was walking around wearing shorts and sandals in 15 C weather, but I believe it's because I was in shock from suffering such a huge loss.

Even a Colombian girl who took my hand and serenaded me in sweet, sweet Spanish wasn't enough
Amazing Manizales ...Amazing Manizales ...Amazing Manizales ...

... up in the clouds, one of the nicest locations for an airport runway that you will find anywhere in the world.
to console me ... but that might have been because she was slurring her Spanish, singing like an American Idol reject, and that she had about 15 pounds on me and was thus crushing some bones in my hand ... oh Becky ... it's just not the same without you at my side. Sniff sniff ...

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Colombian Equivalent of a Kebab ...Colombian Equivalent of a Kebab ...
Colombian Equivalent of a Kebab ...

... a stuffed arepa, full of sausage, corn, cheese, and veggies. Not bad, the arepa was way better than the one I had for lunch in the Bogota airport.
Surreal ...Surreal ...
Surreal ...

... the hostel bar was giving a Christmas lesson to the Colombian clientele. Bizarrely entertaining, especially since the bartender was pretty hosed.

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