About Surreal teacher

2 people, normally resident in London, moving to everywhere else. First stop South America

New York

So, this was our holiday in a holiday, extravagant and awesome.
I think bullet points and photos will do this one.

Day one:
Haul up at Eren’s jet lagged
Meet Steve
Get lunch in sun
Find Nadia and Mike
Get drinks
Be made into doll with scary hair by the men
Drag queen karaoke. Nailed it
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Day two:
Minor hangover
Baseball at Yankee stadium
Walk through central park
Pizza at Pala
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Day three:
Pre-festival central park jog/ juice run
Governor’s Ball

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Day four:
Whisper-sang happy birthday to mike at grand central station
Brunch at Wild and governor’s ball
Midnight macaroons
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Day five:
Break dancing in the subway
All day at the festival, vampire weekend close.
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Day six:
Goodbye brunch with mule and basis (ha! Should be Mike and Nadia, I just liked that autocorrect)
Feel sad trip ending
Go to swing dance class outside Macy’s
Feel happy
Dinner with Steve
Times square midnight art show
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Day seven:
Final visit to gluten free bakery for doughnuts
Lunch with Eren
Start our epic two overnight flight journey to Tokyo
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Our fortnight in Colombia- Popayan, Medellin, Bogota

As I wrote this I am cross legged in Japan, Colombia feels like a distant memory, so I think this will be brief.

A very very easy crossing into Colombia found us in Pasto. Pasto to Popayan is one of the few unsafe bus rides, so we holed up in the koala inn for the night for our first taste of Colombia.

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Everything either closes really early in Colombia, or it just isn’t that safe to go out at night. It varies from city to city which it is, but it’s a pain.

Popayan
This is a beautiful town, very white, very colonial in style and very sleepy. It was a very relaxing time here, despite the full on resurrection of my running routine meaning I was plodding along every morning. We had a few days here, in a really nice hostel, with a really fat cat, right on the main plaza.

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We did two day trips, one wonderful, the other a bit of an anti climax. We first went to Aguas Tibias, a hot spring boasting several pools and a slide! We meet a really sweet Colombian couple who gave us a lift up a hill and then patiently explained how our Colombia itinerary was a bit pants and we should go to lots of other places. As well intentioned as they were (and their follow up email) we just did not have the time. When we go back, promise! The setting was much more attractive than at Banos, the pools were empty and except for the watchful eyes of the Colombian military as I swished down the slide (no idea why, we think maybe it was a day out for them but they are so attached to their guns they couldn’t bear to strip off and join in) it was perfect.
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The second trip was meant to be for an amble round a national park, but the first bus at 6am never showed and when we finally arrived it was closed due to disputes with the local people. You have to be accompanied by an indigenous guide to get anywhere. We were fortunate that one was there with a slightly racist American couple (“we love your lovely white princess Kate, so much nicer than Michelle “) who let us join him for a trip to the natural springs, which for us was going to be the park highlight anyway.

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Medellin
Without asking Pete on this I can safely say this was our favourite Colombian city (I checked, it is). Despite being told by our Colombian swim buddies that it’s a bit dull (“like Liverpool”) we loved it.

It is the city of eternal spring, a microclimate ensuring sweatiness year round (spring is hot here), but beautiful for photos.
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There is a large botanical garden with turtles and large iguanas and is a good spot for juggling practice, a really good planetarium, which we wouldn’t normally visit but was so interesting, a huge sports complex and a 1.1m circumference traffic island that is wonderful for running around. It is also here that I got the worst 7 minute haircut of my life (I suppose it was also the best 7 minute haircut of my life) and I’m still bitter about it. I also got to catch up with a traveling friend from way back with drinks with Miranda, who I met hitching to Morocco. This was a great treat and it was so nice to hear about her adventure too.

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This was also the city that was treated to our dancing skills- we went to a salsa class and then on to a salsa club that was pretty good, sweaty, with a live band.

We took a bus out of the city to visit a large black rock called la piedra del penol that people have attached steps to, because humans like climbing things. It’s close to a colourful town called guatape famous for it’s pictures depicting local life that can be found on buildings all around the town. At one point they tried to claim the rock by painting the name of the town on it but another town, “penol”, thought of it as their rock so sent out an angry mob to stop them. Interrupted by the angry mob, they only managed to paint the G, which is still there.
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We climbed just over 750 steps to reach the top and enjoy impressive views of the area and it’s watery landscape (they built a dam nearby).

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We also had our one and only coffee fix in in Medellin. We thought we should try it I once seeing as we were in Colombia. One of best places for coffee is a new cafe called pergamino started by the son of a coffee bean grower. They only use their families beans and have an extensive menu of cold and hot coffee. We managed three cups of coffee and two jars of frappuccino. We know nothing abpout coffee but it seemed pretty good.

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Finally we took a cable car to the outskirts (public transport in Medellin was very good, clean easy fast safe. Liked it) to see a notably well designed library. Journey was more exciting than the building.

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Bogotá
Our final stop, and with our impeccable timing we managed to get there for a Sunday and then a public holiday so lots was closed. We wandered around the centre a lot. They shut the main Street in town for pedestrians and cyclists on Sundays and that was really cool.

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There are also racing guinea pigs.

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And having public free exercise or dance classes, fun to watch.

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Lots of dogs in football kits too. The final day was largely wasted as I panicked about flying, (gets worse everytime I fly, getting home isn’t going to be a blast). A good flea market and lots of typical Colombian food later we bade farewell to south america and headed to New York.
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Hot chocolate with cheese
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Not traditionally Colombian, but a donut with the Colombian flag seemed like a good transition food between Colombia and the USA

Otovalo, a million times better than Quito

Otovalo is a market town between Quito and the border with Colombia. Most people will pass through on a Saturday as the market is best then. Us being us we arrived on a Sunday.

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The market was still impressive and we felt like we were the only tourists in town.

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We spent a few days here and visited a nearby village and a lake for some hiking.

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I bought a lot more than I should have done, egg let me.

Latacunga, Cotopaxi and Lago Quilotoa

Latacunga is not that exciting in itself, but it is a good base for exploring the natural wonders in the area. In the day the street food and market is awesome, in the evening there was one place we could eat (most places close, I assume people eat at home) and all I could eat was plain rice and chips, for three nights.

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First we went to lake Quilotoa, a high altitude crater lake. Very beautiful, hell of a walk into the crater and back but good training for the next day, and the skinniest dog that received all our lunch plus some meat that I bought from a restaurant that thought I was a crazy gringa.
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The next day we went to Cotopaxi national park to have a climb of the volcano. You have to have the proper gear to reach the summit, so we only made it 5,600 metres. Still it was the highest we’ve ever been. This was an even harder walk but we did it alot quicker than a lot of people according to our guide (big whoop). Anyway, we reached the glacier at the top, walked around a lake and had a stroll through the general park. Despite being initially underwhelmed, probably due to the cloud, we loved it.

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I also became addicted to Yo Me Llamo, an Ecuadorian TV show that is a cross between stars in their eyes and x factor. It’s awful and everyone watches it.

Hi Ecuador! Cuenca and Baños

Arriving in Ecuador we carried on going straight from the border, to Machala to Cuenca.

It had a bit of a bad run with us, as we ended up only being there in the evening and in the pouring rain. Our first day we travelled to the nearby towns famed for their markets as it was a Sunday. Honestly we went because I wanted to go to the place based on the name, Sigsig, it’s glorious. The other two were Gualaceo and Chordeleg. All three were different and we pretty much wandered around the centres, visited the markets and tried even more food.

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Baños was the place I think I was most looking forward to in Ecuador. Famed for its natural springs it is a bit of a destination for relaxation and basking. So we did. We both treated ourselves to embarrassingly cheap glorious massages, and I went a steal further and got a manicure and pedicure too, just because. We also did a hell of a steep hike up the surrounding mountains and then around the town, before finally ending in the baths.

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In the baths there were three main pools and some plunge pools so we followed the crowd when we arrived and tried to go in the most crowded one. This was a mistake! The water was so hot it felt like climbing into a kettle, I think we managed ankles and no more. So we removed ourselves with dignity to the cooler pool, which was still pretty piping. When we were so hot we couldn’t bear it we chucked ourselves in the freezing showers. Feeling brave we faced the hot pool again and this time, a bit more acclimatised to the heat, we were successful. It was so hot that after a few minutes we moved to the plunge pool and just sat there. SAT, in the plunge pool. Even braver and still really hot we went for a swim in the cold pool. Finally, having experienced everything we left the baths and left Baños.