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.

122. The basic moves for me.

To get to Cartagena we had to go via Cali.

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I thought this would be me but it turned out it wasn’t. Stoked.

Apparently it’s the sporting centre of Colombia which, as you can imagine, thrilled me to the core.

So I wasn’t excited about a Cali stopover. I thought it might be like Hamilton, a sprawl you try to get through quickly. I was wrong.

We were there for a short time but in that short time we did something very right.

We went dancing.

My Colombian friend can dance. I think he picked up the moves in utero.  I don’t know that I can claim the same for myself. I’m not unco, but I’m a long way from being invited to audition for Dancing with the Stars.

I researched the spot for us. And we lucked in.  Salsa Pura was having a ‘Social’ I was told, that very evening.

A Social seems to mean the gloves are off for a couple of hours and everyone smashes it on the dance floor. Then there is a show. Then more dancing. Social dancing.

My friend taught me the basic moves and surprisingly I picked it up quickly. We joined the pulse of the floor.  It’s sexy as hell. I like it.

121. The perfect speed.

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My travel companion and I walk at two remarkably different speeds.

Of course, there is no universally correct speed for walking, unless you’re about to miss a bus or are taking part in a walking meditation.

Both of these things I’ve done and I have to be honest and say I’m more comfortable with the former.  It’s my nature.   I don’t want to be missing busses willy nilly to achieve this, don’t get me wrong. But if I can get somewhere fast I’ll likely take it over slow any day. Even on holiday.

I know right, what a pain in the fucking arse.

(That said, I’ve been flat on my back on a lounger on the hotel terrace for the last two hours. I’m doing nothing, really slowly today).

My friend, on the other hand, enjoys the walking meditation style of personal transportation.

There’s been some compromise, mostly on my part. You don’t speed up this straight edge Colombian easily.

Over the last couple of days, however, I’ve discovered that nature makes it easier for us to find the middle ground.

After a crazy few big city style days in Bogota and Medellin, it was sweet relief to find ourselves standing on the fertile coffee covered soil of Armenia on Saturday.

We had booked a half day private coffee farm tour  and ended up in the passionate and capable hands of Sergio from Expedicion Café (links to follow, WordPress is glitching out in Colombia).

So lucky.

I will forever be happy to pay handsomely for the perfect coffee after learning what a parlarva there is in getting a bean from sprout to mouth.

The farm was small and stunning, dripping in fruits, flowers and other vegetables as well as an astonishing range of coffee bean. The forth generation farm owner  Santiago joined our tour and complemented Sergio’s extensive knowledge with his own encyclopaedic resource.

The land worked it magic. I slowed. My friend quickened.  Nature was the winner on the day.

The tour ended at a café, where Santiago served us all a variety of espresso, with tasting notes,  and fresh fruit from the farm.

A perfect day at the perfect speed for both of us.

120. On the run in Medellín.

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We know these stories of Colombia before we visit: Pedro and his cartel, the comunas with the gun-toting slum lords, cocaine on every street corner.

On announcing this trip to friends, the two primary responses I got involved either cocaine or my personal safety.

I’ve been in Medellín for the last few days, and I can report from the front line that the epicentre of Colombia’s violent history has moved on.

It was only 25 years ago Time magazine dubbed it ‘the most dangerous city on earth’. Even 10 years ago, violence  still reigned, civil society had been destroyed and no one seemed to know how to put the city back together again.

Now it’s becoming famous for one hundred other reasons; it’s public transport, parks and public places, the eco-árbol (a tree-like structure that acts as an air-purifier) and the spectacular Orquideorama for growing orchids. The street art is out of the world and its everywhere.

We stayed in a hip neighbourhood  El Poblado, in an achingly cool hotel and we were surrounded by  an incredible array of bars, clubs and restaurants.

The only problem was the food I’d eaten before I’d arrived. Too much meat for me.  My stomach was less than interested in keeping anything on the inside of my body for the duration of my time in this reinvented city, so it was nil by mouth for me.

Trust me to be the only girl left on the run in Medellín.

119. Modern Family 2.

49612789_2432675060139250_4460221084746121216_nModern Family has always been a favourite sit com of mine.

Never in a million years did I think I’d be starring in the second version of it – involving one kiwi and a bunch of Colombians, instead of one Colombian and.. you get the picture.

My Colombian friend has a cool 31 years under his belt.  His dad is perhaps three or four years older than me. His dad’s girlfriend is 28. She has a child around 6. Grandfather is perhaps ten years younger than my dad.

Before I left the village on New Year’s Day, the grandfather called me into his room with my friend, who had to translate.

My friend couldn’t stop laughing at what his Grandfather’s advice was for me, then finally found the words:

You have an underage one there. But I like you. Look after him.

Not really part of the plan at all, but man I can smile sweetly when I need to.