132. 48 hours in Buenos Aires.


Peace Love Music!

I love this place. Am I becoming relentless?

I especially love the freedom here; I am out of the Jill fucking Brinsdon box people like to keep me in – of a certain age, of a certain profession, of a certain expectation.

I am nobody here, and everybody.   My hair and eyes seem to give me a celebrity status for doing nothing at all. I am starring in my own reality tv show; all I need to do is giggle and sing a little. I am gifted a large discount on my years, without any cut price South American surgery.

The men I have met are hot.

The women I have met want to be my friend. Apparently, I have unique and contagious energy. This makes me happy.

No one seems to want to get smashed all the time. I went for a drink with a friend at 11pm the night I arrived and we had water and that was perfectly fine.

I met a talented creative woman called Laura who took me walking round the streets to look at big beautiful art, then took me to the Centro Cultural Recoleta where we saw more art and listened to a young band I loved called Ibiza Pareo, then took me to an underground club called Vuela Elpez where we drank Malbec and ate empanadas.

We laughed.

I met a handsome Argentinean man for coffee the next day.  He kissed me. It was the best first kiss ever. Perhaps because it was also the last.

I took a cab to San Telmo; Laura said I should go for a look so I walked and I looked. I ate ice-cream in the sun because I read it was famous. While this was happening there was a tango performance in the square. I gave them pesos I still don’t understand.

Now I am packing for home, a little reluctantly.

Buenos Aires has left a sweet sweet taste in my mouth.

I love you Laura. I love you handsome man who kissed me so perfectly.

I’m coming back.

131. Last night in Bogota.


Social climbing Bogota styles.

So we are back in Bogotá and I have said bye for now to my friend and host. He has work to do, and I have set myself one final task here before I fly out tomorrow –  to find out how I would fit in and where I would live in Bogota, and find some PLU to play with.

It was way easier than I thought it was going to be.

I met beautiful Isabel in the lobby of my lovely Teusaquillo hotel weirdly called B.O.G which, any way you look at it, reads like a swamp.

There was an immediate PLU recognition, a squeal and a hug like long-lost sisters. Two black leather jackets, two sets of springy steps, two easy laughs and one clear sense of mischief between us. No walking mediation styles for these two sisters; we were off at a pace, thank god.

It was her neighbourhood we were heading to – Chapanero – very groovy, full of individuals, people like us but mostly with black hair and dark eyes.

We visited a bunch of independent fashion houses, where everyone knew her name.

We stopped for juices and coffees, tiny empanadas and other national treasures.

We hung out at her ‘house’, a stunning double story stone villa she leases and has filled with independent labels. She’s still looking for the tattooist, so we popped by one of those as well and chatted with some dudes.

Beautiful humans, I loved them all.

Cut to the Mexican restaurant down the road and a few tart margaritas (what did you call me?).

Cut to a growing squad of smart sassy girls and one sweet dude with a broken heart.

Cut to me in the smallest elevator in the world going up to an apartment with lovely Andrius and her broken-hearted brother Camilo and her handsome boyfriend Carlos (names have not been changed, but I’ve probably got them wrong anyway).

Gins and laughter, dancing and broken English.

Got home the next day.

Mission accomplished.

130. Things to worry about.

81673_0Over the last couple of weeks I have seen a whole lot of surly merchandise in the markets correcting the misspelling of this country’s name by so many people, including me on the first few blog posts. I’m sorry Colombia okay?

Who would buy this though, really, but a pedant? I couldn’t think of anything worse to have on my chest than a whine about spelling.

And to be honest Colombia, bad spelling is the least of your perception problems.

Got a text from an ex client over new year wishing me well for 2019. I reciprocated and said I was presently in Colombia.

This was his response:  Know nothing about it. Running drugs.

Colombia = Cocaine in too many people’s heads.

If I were you Colombia, Id be inclined to give us permission to spell your country any way we want – but the trade is to tell the world about our drug free, healthy, happy holiday with your warm and welcoming people, on your spectacular land.

3600-athletic_gray-z1-t-deal-hugs-not-drugsMaybe you could sell a Colombian version of this famous t-shirt instead? Now there’s an idea.

129. I’m sad about the smart phone.


Just look at the view

I know I’m not imagining it.  Each time I travel, there are more phones in front of more people, more practiced frozen selfie faces, more technology getting in between the people and the actual thing.

My friend was constantly pausing and waiting while yet another selfie was taken near him; I just motored through, occasionally bombing or joining in (oh they’re the same thing?). I figure it’s the new occupational hazard.

In Cartagena you could take a horse and cart ride through the breathtakingly beautiful old town, and plenty of people did.

And many used the opportunity of sitting still to catch up on their social media or take another thirty shots of their faces.

Hire a horse and cart and then don’t look up.  I can’t make sense of it.

My friend is addicted to WhatsApp. He doesn’t post much on Facebook and isn’t on insta and this seems to confirm to him he’s not one of them. They’re all individual conversations you see.  I would observe that this is no different – it’s an addiction to staying connected to everyone at all times, never prioritising what’s happening here and now over anything that is happening somewhere else.  I feel phubbed (phone snubbed) often and find myself regularly encouraging him to look up at something amazing that won’t be there in twenty seconds time.

I like the newish feature on my phone which tells me how much time each day I spending on it.  I like it because it horrifies me and shocks me into putting it down, leaving it behind and generally resisting my own stupid need to look at it.

Do more things that make me forget to check my phone: now there’s a plan for 2019.

128. Mysterious bathroom activities.

50151399_2288681644477482_5045265303420796928_nI was in my friend’s apartment in Bogota long enough pay a visit to the bathroom when I was gravely informed that we don’t flush paper of any kind down the toilet in Colombia.

Not even when you do a poo.

Something to do with narrow pipes and weak pressure, all over the whole country.

You have to neatly fold it and place it in the bin beside the toilet provided for the task, which I assume is regularly emptied.

Initially my toilet modesty was a little shocked about this, I’m not going to lie. I couldn’t flush all evidence of my bathroom activities down?  Some of the remnants just had to sit there, a public declaration of my bowel health?

I had to embrace it though and I quickly became one with the Colombian way.  Habit flips you back of course and on occasion the involuntary kicked in and I was horrified to see I’d assumed kiwi styles five seconds after the event.   Guilt would consume me as I slunk out the door, imagining blocked toilets, the proprietor wading through the debris of my inattention.

There’s another thing in the bathroom that I can’t fathom. No wash cloths. None. A towel, and maybe a big hand towel. Nothing else.  I’ve had a devil of a time washing my face, the sweet experience of the hot cloth on the face at the end of the day just a memory.

So many mysteries, not all of them magical in the smallest room of the house.

127. Ranting on the bus.


Dylan Baddour/Al Jazeera


I’m catching a lot of public transport in Colombia. I’m shoulder to shoulder with the locals; I like it.

But there’s a new phenomenon here. Ranting people.

The first time I noticed it I thought someone was having a long one-sided convo on the phone with someone.

Then my local friend said “We have a situation here”.

A situation? That sounded a little heart stopping to me.

The situation he refers to is the crashing Venezuelan economy and the rush of people coming over to Colombia for refuge.  If must be bad for them, because it doesn’t look like it’s exactly working out here.

They catch the buses and loudly share their stories with the captive ears, concluding with a request for financial support. If they’re female and carrying a baby, it’s pretty hard to turn a blind eye.

But gee there’s a lot of them. Of the more than one million documented Venezuelans in Colombia, about 240,000 are in Bogota with more arriving daily. Many, fleeing their country’s crippling economy, violence, political persecution and food and medicine shortages, arrive in Colombia on foot without a peso in hand.

My friend tells me he has a criteria for who he gives money to. Basically he helps fund old people and people who are attempting to sell something.  I get that. You can’t give money to everyone so you create your own map to help you get through the tangled mess of emotions you feel.

Wish it were this easy for a homeless Venezuelan to navigate their way to true refuge.

126. Fall down eight times, get up nine.


This is not a picture of me and my friend before we both fell in. But it may as well be.


While we’re on the subject of action man activity in Colombia, I may as well share my sunset SUP experience right?

I’d done it once before in New Zealand and, weirdly for an unbalanced girl (physically not mentally, although that could be in dispute), I didn’t fall off once.

The promise of an apricot sunset  lured me and there I was with my Colombian bum stuffed into my Lonely two piece, limbering up to repeat my performance.

Around 5pm a small group of us went out , the sun sitting low and fat near the horizon ready to take it’s nightly dip into the sea.

The boy racer jet skiers circled us, creating waves where there were none before.

Bless you all boys, and your overactive glands.

I was up quickly, and down in a flash. This was repeated often.

The sea was warm, and I was free, and I didn’t even hurt my pride.

I missed the sunset.

Who gives a fuck.

(This post has turned into a kind of a haiku).

125. Bored? Try flying.

The Flyboard was invented in Autumn 2012 by a French water-craft rider, Franky Zapata.

What a very rock and roll name.

The design allows the device to literally jettison out of the water and be stable in the air. Well, stable-ish.

There is nothing in my DNA – no matter how many past lives I sift through – that would propel me towards any adventure sport but flyboarding could well be the first to get the red buzzer.

However my Colombian friend is a rocket with his pockets packed with adrenalin, so there we were standing on a baking beach in Cartagena at 2pm on a Wednesday, preparing for him to take flight.

And fly he did; after only twenty or so full body slams into the sea the man found air.

I have to admit, the experience looked incredible. I ruined most of the videos I took of him with squeals and expletives.

I mean, who doesn’t want to fly, at least in their dreams?

According to Jeffrey Sumber, a psychotherapist who knows about these things, dreams about flying are extremely common. However, they are more common in adult males than other segments of the population.

“Often times, men in today’s world negotiate issues regarding freedom,” explains Sumber. “There is great pressure to perform at work, at home, in the bedroom, financially, athletically, socially, and more and more, emotionally. Thus, it has become fairly common for many males to confront their feelings about this pressure as well as their relationship to the underlying desire to be free, by working it out in flying dreams”.

Or on a FlyBoard perhaps.

My friend raved about the experience; he felt like Ironman at times apparently – super human abilities at his feet for a moment in time.  A whole lot better than chasing dreams I reckon.

124.Something about a big bottomed girl.

dsc00456It’s been with me since puberty, this enthusiastic bum of mine.

It’s been a little bigger at times, and it’s even been a little bit smaller on occasion, but in terms of a hip to waist ratio, at all times it has been on the extravagant side.

I’ve embraced it as best I can over the years, fifties pin up styles in a twiggy landscape.

But here in Colombia, wow, bums are it. Bums and bellies, ample thighs and pillowy bosoms are everywhere I turn.

I applaud it. What’s not to love about rejoicing in the body your soul inhabits?

But how about those butt cheek makeovers?

Colombia ranks third in the world for ‘butt augmentation’. Liposuction still sits as number one procedure for this nation, but last year around 22,000 Colombian asses grew considerably without the help of any form of second helping at the buffet.

Brazil wins the bum obsession, then Mexico, Colombia, United States (the Kardashian effect?), Venezuela, Argentina…. you’re getting the general theme, right? I’m in the right part of the world for bum love.

It remains a polarising and political subject, plastic surgery. What does ageing gracefully even mean now that not all of the process is compulsory? What is each of us prepared to accept or change now that change can be a viable option?

I suspect for many of the naysayers, fear of a failed operation is a bigger driver than desire for enhancement. But I am only an expert at me, right?

And what I know about me is that I’ve been so very comfortable here. My hair and my eyes might stand apart for sure, but my bum has found it’s homeland.

At last.

123. Hopeless tourist.

49898216_731323980587546_7841833803948490752_nLast night, I counted the countries I’ve visited.  29 – now including Colombia. So I’ve decided I can call myself a seasoned traveller without conceit or exaggeration.

But being a tourist? Not my bag.

I used to describe myself as a lazy tourist but this trip has changed my mind.  I’m just not one at all.  A country’s monuments are important I know. But if there’s a 70 minute queue to take a look at it, I’ll give it a swerve thanks. Natural phenomenon is worth experiencing but if, when you arrive, you’re swamped in a soup of selfie stick wielding humans, I’ll think twice about gifting it my day.

If there is something I’m desperate to see, my strategy is always to be earliest. This works at the Auckland Zoo every time, but shit this world is populated.

So what do I do instead? I walk and I watch. I dance and I laugh. I eat and I flirt.  Just like home I guess – but nothing like home at all.

I’ve been spontaneously involved in all kinds of adventures thanks to this strategy: sitting with the bridal couple in Kashmir for the afternoon’s celebration (and being in half their photos) ; staying with a family in a stone hut in Turkey, sharing their olives  for breakfast… there’ll be plenty to remember on my death-bed.

We are presently staying at my favourite hotel yet on this trip inside the old city of Cartagena. The night we arrived we walked to and around the wall to take in the legendary sunset. It was apricot and perfect. But, as usual, the best bit for me was the human behaviour in front of it.