Monthly Archives: December 2008

Colombia or Thailand?

A little test, which photo is Colombia, which one Thailand?

1.

isla_providencia

2.

san-andres-8

3.

sanandres_colombia4.

morgan-head-providencia5.

thailand-26.

sanandres-17.

thailandbeach8.

san_andres7Answer:   all except 5 and 7 are…….Colombia!!

When we were in Thailand last year, I mentioned to my wife that Thailand looks a lot like Colombia and than especially the nature; the islands, ocean and flora and fauna. As you can see the islands San Andres and Providencia (but also islands around Cartagena) are not distinguishable from Thai islands. I checked with several Colombians that actually have been to both and they were wrong in about 50% of the guesses. I really want to go soon to San Andres and when we do, there will be a full review to be found here…

Feliz Ano Nuevo a todos!!

Christmas day – el Tiburon – Musica

While recovering in the bed from the great party yesterday night, we are watching a great Christmas day movie: Happy Feet. Just now the main character met the latin guys from the other pinguin tribe, the funniest guys ever.  In the background I thought I heard this very famous latin song. It was not, but with me trying to sing the song I was thinking about, my wife inmediately recognized it as Proyecto Uno : El Tiburon! A Merenrap (Merengue mixed with rap) song from the 90´s about hunting girls that even was famous in Holland.  Great song!

When is the water going to stop?

Normally Colombia has some more rain than normal in September till November/December, but this year it is a LOT more than normal. Most days start out perfect with a bright blue sky and just a few clouds but in the afternoon or evening the faucet is turned on and the city is covered by water.

In Bogota we had some streets completely flooded already,inundacion

but especially in the Northern part of Colombia the damage and suffering has been a lot worse. The river Magdalena broke through dikes and left at least 50.000 people homeless, mainly in the city of Plato.

About 1.000.000 people are estimated to be homeless nation wide because of the flooding since September and 67 people were killed. Hopefully it will turn all back to normal soon.

Cafe Tacuca – Eres : Music for a snowy Christmas day

For all of you reading this from far away in the cold and snowy/rainy plains of Holland, US or whatever other place on the wrong side of the thermostat, a kind of depressing song of Cafe Tacuca, a Mexican group named after a local coffee shop in Mexico City, that has won Grammies and is being played frequently on Colombian radio. (too many commas?)

We will think of you during these cold days, from our steamy barbeque parties while taking a whiskey or beer into the pool to not overheat.

“No le pegue a la negra” – Don´t hit the black lady – Music

Before anyone gets offended, I have to explain that in Latin America it is very normal to call someone  “Negro” or “Negra” which means black man or black lady. This is absolutely not seen as offensive here and a lot of people will probably not even be aware of the discussion this could cause for example in the US.

The population in Colombia ranges from black to white and everything in the middle, mainly due to the Spanish “conquistadores” that took slaves from Africa with them, raped indiginas (native indians) or just had “relationships” with them.

This song talks about that time (around 1600) and the suffering of the slaves in Cartagena (famous city at the north coast of Colombia). This version is from our good friend Juanes in his current tour and when we were there I of course had no clue that it was about something very serious as the song is salsa and therefore sort of uplifting.

To read more about the time of the conquistadores click here.

Btw. put the volume of your speakers a little lower, the video is loud and not the best quality!

Oye, abre tus ojos – Music

This must be my favorite merengue song. Driving home from Carrefour they played it on the radio and it felt like the sun was going to break through the darkness of the moon hours. I immediately felt like going to a damping salsa/merengue bar, but that phenomenon seems to be more something you find in non-Latin countries. The salsa places you see in the movies I have not encountered yet. Maybe they exist or maybe the “real” latins like to mix their musics (is that a word?). When I know more about this, I will let you know.

Anyway the song is from somewhere in the eighties but we are actually not sure who the original artist is, lets just pretend it is Colombian, at least it must be from around here somewhere. The text basically says: “Hey, open your eyes, look up, enjoy the nice thing that life has!”

Just press play (no video this time, sorry)
http://www.dominicantube.com/musicDownload.php?music_id=72

crazydude1

Flash them all!

traffic-jam1It seems that Bogota is getting more full with cars every day and the traffic jams are evolving into a very large showroom of cars and horses.

To me it is unbelievable that there are basically no rules in traffic. Taking over on the right, speeding, passing in a red light, parking on the right line of a street or a even the highway, picking up customers with your taxi or bus while parked in the middle lane of 3, using the lane for oncoming traffic to by pass the trancon (traffic jam), even it is pretty normal to see both oncoming lanes also used and last week a taxi that I blocked for doing so, decided to take the sidewalk just as easy.

morenoAgain I have to write to Mr. Samuel Moreno, Mayor of Bogota and I want to address myself also to the police chief in charge of all the traffic controllers and police officers on the streets:

CAN YOU PLEASE DO SOMETHING USEFUL WITH THE LAWS THAT THIS GREAT COUNTRY HAS???

With me, all my (Colombian) family and friends, would like to know why you only care about people driving in the middle of the day without lights while outside the city? How many accidents or deaths are caused because of that?

Ah and of course Pica Placa (basically a limit of driving depending on your license plate). I like the idea, but when you see 5 cars passing through a red light and one car that is 5 minutes into the limited hours, does it not make more sense to give a ticket to the ones that actually are a danger to others????

I know it is not easy to organize this all and possibly we need more money for it, but I have a great suggestion to start with.

images1Lets put some cameras on poles that register automatically the ones that speed, drive through a red light, use the wrong lane etc. The great thing of this idea is that these camera poles pay for themselves and than some. In Holland there are many of them and annually with only 17million inhabitants that actually drive pretty decently, we manage to raise 550.000.000 EUROS!!! I bet you that we could raise the same amount in one month in Bogota!

With that money, we can pay for more policemen and finally repair all the holes that Bogota now is getting more famous for again. Bogota still is the second city (after Mumbai I think) with the most holes in the streets per capita! What a disgrace! Please Mr. Moreno go and have a look at the street at Autopista Norte with 106 or something…a big hole has been created of about 100meters long and nobody is fixing it, its like being on a safari but without the pretty animals…really a disgrace for the city and its people. (UPDATE: seems that my plead helped; this particular street is now fixed, but as always the quality of the roads are amazingly bad, after 2 days there are already bumps appearing! Mr. Moreno, please fire these incompatent constructors or supervisors, it will save us a lot of money again!)

monmeyBack to the plan. Put the cameras and the money will come. Besides that, train the police officers so that they actually help traffic and not make it worse. Right now many of them are just standing talking on their phones or blowing a whistle and waving that really does not serve for anything. Give them training on how to manage traffic flows and how to write tickets for people that mess up the city! I know you are convinced that there will always be traffic jams, but that is not a reason to give up completely on solving some of it!

I beg you…

Ps. for anyone reading this, please do not mistake me for a foreigner that thinks he knows everything better, ask any Bogotanian and they will complain about the traffic and the police not doing anything useful to help.

Ps 2. I just learned that if you google “trancon” (traffic jam), the first thing you will see is a picture of traffic jams in Bogota!