Saturday, January 30, 2021

Footloose on Los Nevados (Colombia 08)

We were amazed; humming birds live and thrive at 4100 m (13,500 ft) elevation in the Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados. Obviously, there are enough blossoms with nectar to sustain these little guys. They definitely do better than we sea-level-sissy tourists do in this thin air. But, surprisingly, none of us got sick or even felt particularly fatigued.
The visitor center served us coca tea (mate de coca), which is supposed to reduce altitude effects. But I looked at the package ingredients, and the amount of coca was so minuscule, it really was just over-sweetened tea. Oh, well.
The plants up here in the mists are quite spectacular - unusual succulents, lichens, and fungi. The fog and drizzle blows in and out, revealing an amazing garden of unusual plant life, bathed in the soft light.
Lava flows, Los Nevados
In color, the light is mellow. In black an white, it is almost ominous.
Hotel Termales del Ruiz, Los Nevados, Colombia
We stayed at the Hotel Termales del Ruiz, which is built literally over a hot spring. The oldest part of the complex was built in 1937, and during the post-war era, thrived as a ski center and hydrotherapy center. Being at 3500m elevation (11,500 ft), the air is brisk. The accommodations were very nice; the restaurant was OK needed a bit of organization or efficiency management. The hot pools were divine.
The area boasts 14 different hot springs, varying in temperature between 28º and 91º Celsius, with waters of different chemical conditions.
Chair with a view, Hotel Termales del Ruiz, Los Nevados
This ends our short sojourn on the Los Nevados volcano. The hiking trails to the summit area were closed when we were there due to active volcanism, but I would like to return some day to do some hiking (there are a thousand places to which I would like to return some day....).

The black and white photographs are from Fuji Acros film exposed with a Leica M2 camera.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Footloose in Manizales (Colombia 07)

Room with a view: Manizales from the Varuna Hotel

We spent a few nights in Manizales. This is a fascinating town perched on a ridge-top, the capital of the Department of Caldas, and near the Nevado del Ruiz volcano. The ridge runs approximately east-west, and to the north and south, the mountain drops off steeply. How did anyone choose to build a town here at about 7,000 ft altitude? Was there dependable drinking water? 

Manizales aerial commuter tramway (Fuji Acros film, Leica M2 camera)
The roads are twisty and windy, really interesting. To save us from a seep mountain ascent and (uurp) car-sickness, our van left us at the bottom terminal of the Cable Aereo Manizales aerial tramway. Thousands of commuters use this daily to get to and from work or school. Most of us associate a tramway as having a bottom and a top station, as on a mountain resort, but this one has intermediate stations. Think of a subway where you can get off or on at any station you select, but instead you are up in the air.
Cable Aereo stations
View from the gondola (Jan. 25, 2019)
Tramways have operated in the city since the 1920s, but this one was built by Leitner Ropeways and inaugurated in 2009. In ten years, it has carried 30 million passengers. It can also carry victims of medical emergencies. Tramways are slowly becoming more common in hilly cities that have traffic problems (e.g., almost any modern city). Even Ankara has an aerial tram today.
Calle 26, Manizales
Calle 24, Manizales. Note the fellow on the scooter
I told you the side streets are steep. 
Carrera 23, Manizales
We walked along the main shopping street, Carrera 23, towards the cathedral. The place was packed with wall-to-wall people. Latin towns are like this at dusk; people are out forgathering, enjoying the end of the work day, and seeing and being seen.
Stores and sidewalk vendors sold all sorts of merchandise, clothing, electronics, foods, and drinks. No one paid any attention to us. "Oh, some more doofy tourists."
The neo-Gothic Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de Nuestra Señora del Rosario dominates the Plaza de Bolívar downtown. It is an unusual reinforced concrete structure, begun in 1929 and completed in 1959. The height of 106m for the top of the tower places this cathedral in a ranking of tallest churches in the world. Unfortunately, it was too late in the day for us to climb up into the tower to the balcony. 
Who takes selfies in front of the cathedral? Answer, everyone. 

Dear Readers, this has been our short visit to Manizales. It is an interesting city with an innovative means to address the topography and traffic issues. On your next trip to Colombia, make a point to visit Manizales.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Footloose in Buga (Colombia 06)

Guadalajara de Buga, in the Valle del Caucais department, is a mid-size city in the central valley north of Cali. It is one of the oldest cities in Colombia, having been founded in 1555 by Giraldo Gil de Estupiñán. 
Roughing it with croissants and coffee, Hotel Guadalajara Buga

We stayed a night after descending from birding in the coastal mountains. The rest of the group left at 06:00 to look at birds in the reservoir and wetlands, but we decided to enjoy a luxurious breakfast and explore the city. The Hotel Guadalajara Buga, a historic hotel from 1954, was really nice - I like roughing it like this.

Gentlemen of Buga
We walked downtown along Carrera 14 towards the Parque, Jose Maria Cabal. This is a busy place! Folks were out enjoying the good weather, chatting, eating, sharing stories, and just hanging around.
Of course, there were plenty of vendors with produce of various sorts.
Mid-morning, quick, what do you do? Drink a Colombian espresso, of course.
Calle 8, Buga
Calle 7a, Buga
Carrera 13, Buga
This town is bustling with commercial activity. But stay off the street when the motor-scooters are buzzing towards you! I almost got smushed once.
Basilica Del Señor de los Milagros, Buga
The Basilica of The Lord of the Miracles is an impressive pink complex of buildings and church. It receives 3 million pilgrims every year. We walked around and looked at the crypts. 
When most of you read this, it will be winter in North America and Europe. You will not be seeing a fruit and vegetable stand like this for a long time. Savor and think about the flavors of ripe produce. 

I love exploring thriving towns like this. And I like to see all the street activity. 

Most of the photographs are from Fuji Acros 100 film, exposed through my Leica M2 camera with 35mm and 50mm Summicron lenses. I use a Gossen Luna Pro Digital light meter in the field to measure exposure. The fruit vendor is Kodak Ektar 100 color film from a Yashica Electro 35CC camera. Click and photograph to expand to 1600 pixels on the long dimension.

Stand by for more Colombia photographs.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Footloose in Cali (Colombia 05)

Downtown Cali


Santiago de Cali (sanˈtjaɣo ðe ˈkali], or Cali, the capital of the Valle del Cauca department, is a bustling city in southern Colombia. We only spent a couple of days there before heading into the mountains, but I took advantage of the time to wander around and check out the scene. 

The Rio Cali flows through the center of the city and offers walking paths and a venue for the famous las novies del gato ("the cat's girlfriends") art park. 

We were warned not to walk along the river at night, but the scene in daytime was pretty mellow. In the Parque Simón Bolívar Cali, people walk, bike, skateboard, read, and feed the pigeons. It was reasonably clean and well maintained. Nice spot, but not much water flow when I was there.

Waiting, ad waiting, and waiting...
Oddly, a large municipal office building complex is in the park, the Subdirección de Catastro Municipal. People were lined up in what looked like very frustrating lines. I wonder if some of them hire line-standers?
Contract typist
The men with old-fashioned manual typewriters interested me greatly. Citizens with multi-page forms hire a typist to complete these forms. Then the citizens can submit them to the appropriate office in the municipal building. Some of the typists were using carbon paper to make duplicates (do some of you "mature" Urban Decay readers remember carbon paper?). I have seen similar typists in Cuba and Tanzania. And decades ago, I remember letter-writing professionals outside of post offices in Turkey. People who could not write hired a professional and then immediately mailed their letter at the post office.
Avienda 40 oeste - just get out of the way
Yes, the traffic is dense. But the drivers were very observant of traffic lights and pedestrian crossings. And I think the street condition was better than in many American cities.
At the Centenario office complex and mall
Heading back to the hotel, what to do? Stop for a coffee, of course. The Centario Mall had a nice sitting area in the atrium.


Cristo Rey


Selfie at the Cristo Rey. Great hats!
Professional portrait at the Cristo Rey
Cheerful portrait 

I am sure every tourist is taken to see the 26-m statue of Cristo Rey (Christ the King), located west of Cali on the Cerro de los Cristales in the village of Los Andes. It is a steep ascent past nice suburban neighborhoods and shantytowns. According to Wikipedia,

On Sunday October 25, 1953, the statue was inaugurated at its summit an image of Christ in celebration of the fifty years following the end of the War of a Thousand Days. It is made of iron and concrete, with a mass of 464 tons and a height of 26 m, of which 5m belong to the pedestal.

More exploration to follow. For articles 01 to 04, please type "Colombia" in the search box.

Tourist note: We stayed in the  HOTEL MOVICH CASA DEL ALFÉREZ, Avenida 9 Norte No. 9 – 24, Cali. Nice place, clean, and quiet.

These photographs are from Fuji Acros 100 film exposed with my Leica M2 camera with 35mm and 50mm Summicron lenses. I scanned the negatives with a Plustek 7600i film scanner.

 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Organized Chaos at the Galeria Alameda, Cali (Colombia 04)

2021
Dear Readers, 2020, a truly horrifying year, for which we Americans should be overwhelmingly ashamed and contrite, is behind us. The presidential freak show will be over by late January, and maybe the MAGA malignancy will fade, like a pestilence that has run its course through a population or a toxic scum that sinks back into the cesspool. 
Let us start a new and more hopeful year with a colorful food market. As you Urban Decay readers know, farmers' or food markets are always fun. They are colorful, odoriferous, noisy, cheerful, and full of photographic opportunities. The Galeria Alameda between Carrera 24 and 26 in Cali, Colombia, is a good one. The Cali Adventurer summarizes it as 
"It’s organized chaos. Imagine a place where buyers and sellers of herbs, flowers, exotic fruits, veggies, meat and fish mingle and haggle. A place where a pound of cow eyes are just as likely to be sold as a bag of potatoes. A place where indigenous women sell hand-woven baskets next to “snake oil salesmen” selling alternative medicines." 
I am not sure about the chaos part. Compared to markets I have visited in Africa and Asia, this one looked pretty clean and sanitary, but don't let that make you think it was boring, by any means. 

Note, these photographs are from January 2019, obviously pre-virus; it seems like another lifetime.
Want to test a pepper? Snacking available; have some ice water available to cool off your tongue.
 Some of these goodies were wrapped in banana or plantain leaves.
 The cheese vendor checking his phone. Everyone in Colombia checks their phone....
The chickens were refrigerated and trimmed - no live ones running around. And this employee was already wearing her mask.
Lunchtime! Our charming guide, Vivian, knew exactly where to eat and knew the staff at the cafeteria. The serving gents in the orange shirts were pleased to have some foreigners chowing out. Top it off with a strong Colombian coffee - it does not get much better than this.

These photographs are from Kodak Ektar 100 film from my little Yashica Electro 35CC camera. I used it on auto-exposure, and the little electric eye calculated most exposures as well as I would with a hand-held meter. The color balance was a bit funny with various types of lighting, but that is one downside of film as opposed to digital. I scanned these negatives on a Plustek 7600i film scanner.