Guatapé Colombia by Motorcycle

The story of Guatapé Colombia by Motorcycle. First some backstory…

Shortly after I got back from Montreal, Quebec Canada, my friend and fellow traveler Sundal Roy paid me a visit in Austin. It was great hosting someone I met back during my year-long travels throughout Southeast Asia. She stayed a week and then headed on to Colombia for a Ayahuasca ceremony. As soon as she was gone, I was missing her presence, and itching to get out of the States again.

And so a week later I had bought a ticket to Medellin to meet her. We were only in Medellin a couple days before we decided to get out of the big city. I rented a motorcycle and we headed to a little town called Guatapé about two hours away. We had rode around having adventures on motorcycles since back in Vietnam, again in Austin and now in Colombia. I had heard that it was a beautiful spot, lake country with lush green hills and plenty of relaxation to be had. The reports didn’t do the region justice.

Rolling in on the motorcycle was top notch. The roads a good quality. We snaked up and down through the small hills and valleys until we reached Guatapé. We found our hotel that we procured on Airbnb, and nice room with lots of light.

The next several days were very much the same. We took rides to smaller neighboring towns San Rafael and the several spots to swim around that town. One area had a nice waterfall and we jumped off a rock into the churning water below. What was supposed to be a 2-day stay in Guatapé turned out to be 5. It was that relaxing. One afternoon we scaled Piedra el Peñol, a black rock of which no one knows the origin. It is the third biggest in world behind Pao de Azucar in Rio de Janeiro and another in Uruguay. I spoke to an older gentleman who like me, suggested it was not of this planet. We rented a little foot-paddle boat and toured the lakes. We hired a boat to take us to one of Pablo Escobar’s getaway houses, which had been bombed after his death by the government and members of rival organized crime groups.

By the time the week was over, we had done a lot. Also, a lot of synchronicities were taking place. Our previous friendship started blossoming into a romantic relationship. I felt the universe’s hand at work, guiding me to share my energy and my heart with this woman. I almost always let my spirit, my intuition guide me. Every time I’ve let my rationality or logic override what my spirit tells me, I paid a price. So, I try to let it carry me through life’s paths. I’m not to sure where this path is taking me, but it is for my good and to help me realize my dreams, and so it is good. Aho!

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Holi Festival in the Hill Country

Big K and I rolling through the twists and curves of the Texas Hill Country. The sky was grey, cloud shapes and depth marked by the dark bulges of precipitation. A soft pitter-patter that made me put on my wipers on the lowest setting. Turned off the road to the Radha Madhav Dham Hindu.

Walking up to the main area, a rumble in our bellies, we went straight for the food lines. We got our tickets and and went straight towards food. We circled the aromatic comestibles like hungry wolves circling a flock of sheep. Drooling, long tongues hanging out, eyes wide. We got kebab, Dhosas, Pakoras, and Chai or Mango Lassi to drink.

Walking around, there was multi-colored powder on the tiled floor near parking lot. We thought we missed part the Holi festival. A vendor said we didn’t miss anything, and to wait for the people praying inside of the temple to file out. We hung back and a family appeared to our right and smeared some powder our faces and atop our heads.

We make our way to the outdoor stage area and the procession began. A band started playing. Tambourines shaking, drums rolling, brass horns of various sizes buzzing and honking. A crowd formed to the left. A few people handed out or threw what must have been hundreds of bags of multicolor powder. Once everyone had several bags, everyone waited for the cue. The cue came, and everyone seemed to burst into powder. Clouds of red, orange, yellow, blue, green and purple exploding, the powder suspended in air. Colorful lack of visibility. I imagined that the air on Jupiter must look like that. The powder got everywhere. In my ears, eyes, hair, and in my mouth because I was laughing. It was bitter and tasted horrid. The band played feverishly, holding a high tempo for long periods of time. At intervals the whole crowd would shout something that sounded like “Holi hands!!!” We danced and threw powder and shouted for what seemed like hours. I took a few photos with an Olympus film camera I bought for $5 at Goodwill. Some Indian gentlemen started a congo line. I felt elated and was reminded of being back in India, a country I came to love. There were circles of people dancing Bollywood-style. Then the bags of powder started running out.

Exhausted, both of us a mess. Creatures baked under a multicolored crust. I lined my car with old clothes I had in my trunk so we wouldn’t color the upholstery. And we drove off, exhausted into the drizzling day.

I had never attended Holi. I know the University of Austin holds one. But I especially liked this one, out in the beautiful Hill Country, and at a very beautiful temple. There were many people of all ages and it was very welcoming, the food was bomb, and it was a great time. I highly recommend it if you are around Austin in the late winter.

Honk! TX

Honk! TX

How refreshing to have a second line in Austin. I don’t visit my former home New Orleans as often as I’d like. We walked, they made music. We would cross the street en masse. The large crowd only getting halfway through the crosswalk before the light would turn green. Yuppies in fancy cars fuming that we were blocking their green light. Fuckin’ yuppies. I realized then people don’t use that word anymore. Minor Mishap Marching band would play, then the Brazilian percussionists. A wave of music sloshing back and forth between the styles. Tidal tunes. We would stop at certain spots, form an amoebic semi-circle and dance. My favorite was when they played Do What You Wanna, a very NOLA song by Kermit Ruffins if my memory serves me. We made our way around to venue 3TEN where the second line started. Dozens of musicians packed on the waist-high stage. We danced some more, everything bathed in multi-colored light. Blues and purples. Can’t beat brass. So much fun. Cute girl holding the Minor Mishap flag too.

Honk! TX

 

Honk! TX

Honk! TX

Honk! TX

Honk! TX

Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan

After 12 years, I return. My uncle, sister and I arranged for our Uber driver from the previous day to take us there, wait a few hours and take us back to the city. Unfortunately he avoided the toll road and the ride ended up being longer than it should’ve been. We finally arrived ready to rid ourselves of our cagey confines.

On the way in was a museum which wasn’t there during my last visit. It was small but well laid out and informative. The to-scale model of ancient Teotihuacan was impressive and helped but the place in perspective. I learned that the indigenous people that built the city modeled it as a representation of the cosmos. The larger pyramid the sun, the lesser the moon. The Moon at the end or head of the avenue of the dead. This placement got me thinking. It wasn’t stated anywhere but maybe the inhabitants of the city viewed the moon as their Hades. For many cultures the the land of the dead is below the earth’s surface. Maybe the original people there believed it was an outerworld instead of an underworld. You live you life by the abundance of the sun and when you die you join in the slow trot down the avenue of the dead direction the moon. According to archaeological evidence, the original inhabitants burn the city down themselves. Others inhabited it throughout the centuries after that. The city was deserted when the Spanish arrived. Maybe they had already joined the avenue on the other side of this plane. I used to always confuse Teotihuacan and Tenochtitlan. Nevermore Lenore.

 

Teotihuacan museum

Teotihuacan model

Teotihuacan museum

We made our way to el Piramide del Sol. A huge line wrapped all about the western edge of the enormous base. My uncle kept grumbling something along the lines of: “Back in my day there was no line. This is crazy.” I too didn’t remember waiting in any line during my last visit, but I thought it was funny him spouting that iconic old-man phrase. The line did take quite a long time. While in line my sister bought this jaguar-head whistle than when operated correctly made the sound of a jaguar growl and roar. The trick is to pronounce a Spanish ‘r’, or trilled /r/, while simultaneously creating a small passage with your other hand that covers the small opening at other end of the apparatus. Our attempts didn’t sound quite like those of the men selling them but we got close a few times.

Teotihuacan whistle

Once at the summit I realized that since I had last been there ‘they’ had added concrete with jagged rocks. It was not comfortable to stand much less sit up there for more than a few minutes. I’m sure this was intentional. Many cities push out their homeless populations in a similar way. They add bars in the middle of park benches so no one can sleep there or they fence off areas under bridge overpasses. I’m not a fan of these not-so-subtle ‘fuck-offs.’ There was a line on the steep decline down as well.

Pyramid of the Sun

Much further down the main ancient avenue was el Piramide de la Luna. I found it much more enjoyable there. Because of it’s distance away from the entrances, only a small fraction of people made the trek there after scaling the Sun. The summit of the Moon is flat and there are many nice edges to sit legs dangling. The view is breathtaking from that vantage point.

I felt that the place had a powerful energy. I’ve found that many of these ancient structures have a similar power. I noticed it at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The same feeling was at Le Mont St. Michel in France, and the Pantheon in Rome. I think that the locations of these structures and those like them were not chosen <em>par hasard</em>. They stand at the crossroads or conglomerations of energy fields. Focal points if you will. These locations tap into that and maybe even structures like pyramids might magnify it. I believe ancient peoples knew this. At the very least, I have the feeling that there is more to these types of places than meets the eye. Being there reminded me of a phrase from Deepak Chopra –

<em>”I am space, I am the sun. I am the directions. Above and below. I am the gods. I am the demons. I am all beings. I am darkness. I am the earth. I am the ocean. I am the dust, the wind, the fire, in all this world. I am omnipresent. How can there be anything but me? Me, a spirit?” </em>

Pyramid of the Sun

After we scaled la Luna, we exited out the incorrect gate. Our driver was not there and our whereabouts were unrecognizable. We started walking in the supposed direction of our original entrance. On the way we grabbed some giant micheladas. Droooool. We ended up calling our guy and he came to meet us where we were. We got some very different and delicious tacos at a nearby stand. When I think of tacos, I think of the typical smallish ones with corn tortillas. I usually need at least 6 to feel satisfied. So, I ordered 4 for each of us. Bistec con nopales. Turns out these were gi-normous Azteca tacos in huge blue corn tortillas. Each one was like 3 average-sized tacos. We started laughing every time they brought another plate of those monster tacos. But hey, in the end we finished them all.

Micheladas Teotihuacan

After micheladas and tacos. We were all done for. Our driver transported 3 big sleeping babies back to the city. He was awesome. Gracias Jorge, esa tarde fue perfecto y te agradezco por tus conversaciones simpáticas y por nos haber llevado.