Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Bienvenidos a Colombia



[ENGLISH FOLLOWS]
Bienvenidos a Colombia! Aquesta frase em va sentar com un tiro el primer dia que arrivem a Colombia. Estàvem a Capurgana i el primer que fem és anar a pel segell d'entrada a Colombia, però com que no hi havia electricitat fins a la tarda ens n'anem a passar el dia a unes piscines naturals prop d'allà. A la tornada tornem a pel segell, entra una de les noies austríaques, l'Elisabeth, i li posen el segell. Després entro jo i just se li espatlla l'ordinador al funcionari de l'aduana, em diu que li havia passat alguna altra vegada i que havia de netejar unes plaques, així que l'ajudo a desmontar l'ordinador i acaba funcionant, així que també em posa el segell. Al entrar l'Andrea tarda molt i ens avisen si podem entrar a traduir, resulta que no s'havien posat la vacuna de la febre groga i el funcionari li deia que havia de tornar cap a Panamà, li torna a demanar el passaport a l'Elisabeth i ella tampoc la tenia així que també deia que no podia ingressar. Al cap d'una estona em fa entrar al despatx i em diu que l'única solució és que paguin una multa de 150 dòlars, és a dir que volia un soborn, no m'ho podia creure. Intento convencer-lo però em deia que sino no els posava el segell. Tornem a la sala on estaven els altres, els hi explico, i també es queden amb cara de pòquer. Intentem regatejar fins a 45 dòlars per cadascuna i amb tota la impotència del món paguen la "multa". Tot seguit ens diu "Bienvenidos a Colombia".

Jo ja vaig estar a Colombia fa 6 anys i em va encantar el país i la gent, és una pena que el govern no faci res i permeti tenir funcionaris i policia corrupta. Jo he escrit al govern colombià per denunciar el fet que l'únic funcionari que estava allà treballant era corrupte i que prenessin mesures, a veure si fan alguna cosa. No és un cas aïllat ni molt menys pel que m'han explicat després.

En fi, després de la mala estona tot va anar com la seda, vam visitar la zona de Capurganà, una zona amb molta vegetació a la vora de les aigües del carib, vam banyar-nos i fer una excursió per la selva fins a Sapsurro i la Miel, una platja molt maca al costat panameny.




Una llanxa fins a Turbo i un bus ens porten a Medellin, capital d'Antioquia conegut per les seves montanyes, l'eterna primavera i l'amabilitat dels paisas (la gent d'aquesta regió). És la segona vegada que estic aquí i m'encanta, sempre tinc la sensació que és una ciutat on podria viure-hi, és molt interessant el contrast entre els barris de les montanyes i els de la vall, hi ha molta cultura, gent simpàtica i amb un tarannà especial.

A Medellín hi ha molta rumba com diuen aquí, així que arribant un dissabte per la nit vam sortir per pegar-nos una bona festa. El dia següent vaig anar a visitar al Julian a Rionegro, un amic paisa (antioqueny), que vaig conéixer al Perú i ja vaig visitar l'altra vegada a Colombia. Va ser molt divertida la retrobada i vam passar un dia genial explicant-nos la vida, coneixent la ciutat i menjant coses típiques. L'endemà vaig tornar cap a Medellín i vaig quedar amb el Ruben i la Lili, el Ruben és un noi de la Seu casat amb la Lili que és de Medellín. Va ser molt interessant tot el que m'explicaven sobre la vida colombiana desde el punt de vista d'un expatriat. El Ruben em va explicar un munt de semblances entre Barcelona i Medellín, potser aquest és el motiu que m'hi trobi tant bé. Medellín és la segona ciutat del país, té la indústria tèxtil més important del país (es veu que uns empresaris de Manresa van portar la primera maquinària tèxtil), també unes de les empreses més importants del pais son d'alla, l'amabilitat dels paises però a la vegada més freds que els costenys, una comunitat internacional força gran i un molt moviment cultural. Ah, i hi ha un lloc a la vora de Bogotà que es diu Monserrate, és una església al cim d'una montanya que conté una verge moreneta i per pujar-hi s'usa el telefèric o el funicular. La Lili també em va gravar entrevistant-me per explicar la meva opinió de Medellín i Colòmbia per pujar-ho al facebook de la seva agencia de viatges.






Un dia vam visitar la comuna 13, anys enrera havia sigut uns dels barris més perillosos de Medellín on hi havien matat a molta gent. Colombia ha canviat molt des d'aleshores i ara és un lloc segur per viatjar-hi encara que la mala reputació costa de treure, aquest lloc és un exemple d'aquesta transformació. Han construit per tota la ciutat telefèrics i escales mecàniques per integrar els barris marginals i perillosos amb la resta de la ciutat i que, d'aquesta manera, hi hagi un intercanvi bidireccional. Vam fer una visita guiada gratuita amb uns joves del barri que ens van explicar la seva experiència personal i el significat del munt de grafitis que hi ha pel barri. Vam acabar la visita amb una classe de ritmes llatins a una plaça del barri on l'atracció de la gent del barri vam ser nosaltres.

Avui ha arribat la Mihal, una amiga israelí que vam conéixer al centre de rescat a Costa Rica. El Julian m'ha informat que hi havia una obra de teatre "berracos" que just avui era gratuita, així que hi hem anat tots plegats.





Portem 4 mesos i mig viatjant junts amb el Luis i, com ja vam planejar des del principi, ha arribat el moment de separar-nos. Ell anirà amb la Mihal cap a la costa carib, que jo ja vaig conéixer fa 6 anys, i jo aniré amb les austríaques cap a l'eje cafetero. Penso que ens hem avingut moltíssim amb el Luis durant tot aquest temps, molts bons moments, molta complicitat, cadascú aportant coses diferents a cada situació i no hem discutit ni un sol cop. Hem après molt l'un de l'altre i crec que no oblidarem mai aquesta experiència. Ara aprofitaré tota la força que m'han donat aquests mesos per continuar la nova aventura en "solitari" (mai s'està sol viatjant).

[ENGLISH]
Welcome to Colombia! This sentence felt me like a shot the first day we were in Colombia. We were in Capurgana and the first we did was going to get the stamp in Colombia, but due there weren't electricity until the afternoon, we went to spend he day in some natural pools close to there. On the way back we went for the stamp, Elisabeth went in and she got the stamp. Then I entered and the computer of the migrations guy went down. He told me it happened another time and he knew he had to clean some boards, so I helped him to open the computer and at the end it worked, so I got the stamp. When Andrea entered, she was taking a long time and they asked if we could enter to translate. They didn't have the yellow fever vaccination and the guy was telling her she had to go back to Panama, he asked again for Elisabeth passport and as she also didn't have it, she had to go back as well. A bit later he asked me to enter to the back office and told me that the only solution is that the girls pay a 150 dollars fine, I couldn't believe it. I tried to convince him but he was telling me that otherwise they won't get the stamp. We went back to the room where the others were, I explained them and they also had poker face. We tried to bargain until 45 dollars each and, with all the impotence of the world, they paid the fine. After that, he told us "Bienvenidos a Colombia" (welcome to Colombia).

I already stayed in Colombia 6 years ago and I really liked the country and the people, it's so sad that the government doesn't try to stop this and allow having corrupt police and administration. I've written to the colombian government to denounce it and that they should take measure on that, let's see if they do something. For what I've been told afterwards, it's not an isolated case at all.

Well, after this terrible situation everything went smoothly. We visited the area of Capurgana, an area with so much nature next to the caribbean water, we swam in the sea and we did a excursion through the jungle to Sapsurro and la Miel, a pretty beach in the Panama side.

A speed boat to Turbo and a bus took us to Medellin, the capital of Antioquia, well known for its hills, eternal spring and the kindness of the "paisas" (people from this region). It is the second time I'm here and I love it. I always have the feeling that Medellin is a city where I could live in. The contrast between the hill's neighbourhoods and the ones in the valley is really interesting, there's a lot of culture, nice people and with a special way of behaving.

In Medellin there's a lot of "rumba", so arriving a Saturday night in the city we had a really good party. The day after, I visited Julian in Rionegro, a paisa friend that I met in Peru and I already visited the other time I was here. It was so funny meeting him again, we spent a really nice day explaining our lives, knowing the city and eating typical things. The following day, I went back to Medellin and I met Ruben and Lili, Ruben is a guy from La Seu married with Lili who is from Medellin. It was so interesting everything that they explained about the colombian life from the point of view of an expat. Ruben explained me many similarities between Barcelona and Medellin, maybe this is the reason why I feel so well here. Medellin is the second city of the country, it has the most important textile industry of the country (some guys from Manresa brought the first textile machinery), some of the most important companies of the country are there, the kindness of the paisas, but also they are colder than the people from the coast, a big international comunity and cultural movement. Ah, and there's a place next to Bogota called Monserrate, is a church on top of hill that has a dark virgin and to climb up you use a teleferic or funicular. Lili also recorded interviewing me explaining my opinion about Medellin and Colombia to upload it into the facebook of her travel agency.

One day we visited comuna 13, years ago this used to be one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in Medellin where they killed many people. Colombia has changed a lot since then and now is a safe place to travel but the bad reputation is hard to remove, this place is an example of this transformation. They've built metro cables and escalators to integrate the marginal and dangerous neighbourhoods with the rest of the city and this way, a bidi exchange is produced. We did a free tour with some young people from the comuna, they explained us their personal experience and the meaning of many of the grafittis of the area. We finished the tour with a latin dances lesson in a square of the comuna where we became the attraction of the place.

Today Mihal has arrived, a friend from Israel that we met in the Costa Rica rescue center. Julian has told me that there's a theatre play called "berracos" that today is for free so we've gone all together.

I've been 4 months and a half travelling together with Luis and, as we planned since the begining, it's time to split. He will go with Mihal to the caribbean coast, that I already visited 6 years ago, and I'll go with the austriac girls to the coffee area. I think that we've got along so well with Luis during all this time, many good moments, so much complicity, each one providing different things at each situation and we haven't argued a single time. We've learned a lot from each other and we will never forget this experience. Now I'll take all the energy of these months to continue the adventure in "solitary" (you are never alone while travelling).

Monday, 12 June 2017

Panama


[ENGLISH FOLLOWS]
Arribem a ciutat de Panamà, una ciutat de contrastos, on et pots sentir com al mig de Manhattan envoltat per rascacels o a un carrer que et recorda a les imatges que es veuen de Síria amb cases i carrers destrossats. La veritat és que sorprenia a cada moment, aquest skyline amb els rascacels impoluts construits sense cap tipus d'ordre i, de sobte, un grup d'indígenes Guna ballant els seus balls tradicionals o un mercat on acabaven de portar peix fresc.

Els Guna son una comunitat indígena de Panamà que provenen de Guna Yala (turísticament conegut com San Blas), fins fa pocs anys el govern panameny no els reconeixia els drets indígenes però ara si, així que tenen les seves pròpies lleis, educació, forma d'organitzar-se en societat, etc. Una persona que vetlla per defensar els drets relacionats amb l'alimentació de la comunitat Guna és la Taina, amb la que vam tenir la sort de quedar a travès del cosí del Luis. Vam quedar el primer dia que estàvem a la ciutat per anar a donar una volta i a menjar ceviche a un mercat de peix. Va ser molt interessant que ens expliqués totes les diferències socials dels Guna de primera mà, també ens va ajudar a organitzar el viatge cap a les comunitats Guna Yala i poder creuar cap a Colombia.

M'encanta tenir experiències així perquè et fan veure les coses des de l'altre costat del mirall, coneixent d'altres formes de viure, pensaments, simbologies i costums. Per exemple, el primer que em va sorprendre al veure la Taina va ser que portava una pulsera de la bandera d'Espanya amb esbàstiques. Donat que no em quadrava que pertanyés a alguna comunitat feixista espanyola, li vaig preguntar què significava la pulsera i resulta que és la bandera dels Guna Yala. Em va semblar molt curiós que aquest mateix símbol existeixi a una part indígena de Panamà, a l'Alemanya nazi i a l'Índia, on és un símbol de pau.




Ens dirigim cap a Guna Yala, al carib, aquí agafem una barca per anar a l'illa de Cartí, una petita illa molt poblada que conté la comunitat més gran dins les illes de la zona. No és una illa turística perqué no és maca, però a mi em va resultar molt interessant per veure com vivia la gent d'allà. Moltes dones indígenes anaven vestides amb vestits regionals, pulseres molt amples als braços i les cames, faldilles i bluses colorides, faixes brodades on cada elaborat dibuix tenia un significat (protecció, salut, bon conreu, bona pesca, fertilitat, etc.) i una arrecada al nas. Tenien tradicions molt curioses, com la figura de l'hamaca que l'usaven per tot, des de llit, a un lloc per parir, per fer dormir els nadons, tenir relacions sexuals, aplicar curacions, fins i tot, al mig del temple de la seva religió era d'obligació tenir dues hamaques (significant el bé i el mal).

Dic que l'illa no és maca perqué està força bruta, plena de xaboles fetes de canya, no té platja, etc. Aquí he estat al labavo més autèntic que he vist mai, a casa del "negro" on ens quedàvem, tenia com un moll de fusta per les embarcacions, allà hi havia una caseta de fusta amb el labavo. Dins del lavabo hi havíen dues tasses de vàter que donaven directament a l'aigua, és a dir, que podies veure el mar sota teu mentres feies les teves necessitats i, per suposat, se't treien les ganes de banyar-te al voltant de l'illa. Al mig d'aquest lloc tant poc turístic arriven dues noies d'Austria molt simpàtiques, l'Elisabeth i l'Andrea, elles també arriven aquí buscant una forma econòmica i com els locals de creuar cap a Panamà, així que continuem el viatge tots plegats.

Recordes el tricicle quan feien de nàufrags a una illa diminuta? Doncs això devia ser a Guna Yala, ja que estava ple d'illetes així. Un dia vam agafar una barca per anar a isla aguja, una illa preciosa que donaves la volta en 10min caminant, envoltada de platja paradisíaca, palmeres serpentejants, cocos, gespa al mig i el mar ple de corall i peixos tropicals.







El negro ens va aconseguir una llanxa col·lectiva per locals per creuar a Panamà, anàvem amb gent indígena, un noi amb cadira de rodes i una colombiana que tornava cap a casa després d'haver intentat aconseguir una millor vida treballant a Panamà, però trobava a faltar la seva terra i els seus fills, així que tornava a casa. Eren 8 hores de viatge i a la meitat es va posar a ploure molt i a tronar. Jo, de sobte, estava amb dos nois indígenes, tots coberts per un plàstic que tenien per no posar-nos ben xops. Notava com tenia aigua als peus però els nois em van dir que era normal i que lo bo és que amb la pluja no hi havien onades grans, la veritat és que el mar estava tranquil. Vam dormir al poble on hi havia la frontera panamenya amb Colombia perquè ja estava tancat el lloc dels segells. L'endemà ens van posar el segell i en 20 min. més amb barca vam estar a Colombia. Quina aventura!

[ENGLISH]
We arrive in Panama city, a city full of contrasts, where you can feel being in the middle of Manhattan surrounded by skycrapers or in a street that makes you remember the images of Siria with the destroyed houses and streets. It was surprising me all thetime, this skyline with shiny skycrapers built without any kind of order and, suddenly, a group of indigenous Guna people dancing traditional dances or a market where they just brought fresh fish.

Guna are an indigenous comunity of Panama who come from Guna Yala (turistically known as San Blas). Not so long ago, the Panama government wasn't recognizing their indigenous rights but now it does, they have their own laws, education, way of organizing themselves as a society, etc. A person that defends the rights related to food of the Guna community is Taina, who we had the luck to know through Luis' cousin. We met her the first day we were in Panama city to walk around and eat ceviche in a fish market. It was really interesting getting to know all the social differences of the Guna people from a Guna person, also she helped us organizing the trip the the community Guna Yala and crossing to Colombia.

I love having this kind of experiences because they allow you seeing the things from the other side of the mirror, knowing other ways of living, thoughts, symbologies and traditions. For example, the first thing that surprised me when I saw Taina was that she was wearing a bracelet of the spanish flag withswastika. Due to the fact that I couldn't imagine Taina belonging to a fascist spanish community, I asked her what was the meaning of it and she said it's the flag of Guna Yala. It's really curious that the same symbol exists in an indigenous area in Panama, in the nazi Germany and in India, where it's a symbol of peace.

We are heading to Guna Yala, in the Caribbean. Here we took a boat to go to Carti island, a small but very populated island that has the biggest community in the islands of the area. It's not a turistic island because it's not so beautiful, but it was really interesting for me to see how the people was living there. Many indigenous women were dressed with regional customs, long bracelets in the arms and legs, colorful skirts and blouses, embroidered strips where every drawing had a meaning (protection, health, good agriculture, good fishing, fertility, etc.) and a nose ring. They had really curious traditions, like the figure of the hammock which was used for everything; a bed, a place to give birth, to make the babies sleep, have sexual relations, healing, even though, in the middle of their temple the had two hammocks (meaning good and bad).

I say it wasn't a beautiful island because it's quite dirty, full of cane houses, without beach, etc. Here I've experienced the most authentic toilet I've ever seen, in "el negro" (black) house where we were staying. He had a wooden dock for the boats with a wooden house with the bathroom. Inside it there were two toilets that were accessing directly the water. In other words, you could see the sea below you while doing your necessities and, of course, you didn't want to swim anymore around the island. In the middle of this non turistic place, two really funny Austrian girls arrived, Elisabeth and Andrea. They were also looking for an economic way like the locals to cross to Panama, so we continued the trip all together.

Do you remember "el tricicle" when they were castaways in a tiny island? This was probably in Guna Yala, because it was full of islands like this. One day we took a boat to go to neddle island, a lovely island that in 10 min on foot you could make the turn, surounded by paradisiac beach, winding palm trees, coconuts, grass in the middle and a sea full of coral and tropical fishes.

"El negro" got us a shared boat for locals to go to Panama, we were with indigenous people, a guy in wheelchair and a colombian girl that was going back home after having tried achieving a better life working in Panama, but she was missing her home and her children too much. The journey was 8 hours and in the middle it started raining a lot and thundering. Suddenly I was with two indigenous guys, all covered by a plastic that they had not to get wet. I was feeling I had the feet full of water but the guys told me it was normal and that the good thing of the rain is that there's no big waves, it's true that the sea was quiet. We slept in the town of the panamenian border because the migration office was closed. The next morning they stamped our passport and in 20min more with a boat we arrived in Colombia. Such an adventure!

Monday, 22 May 2017

Costa Rica

 

[ENGLISH FOLLOWS]
Fa uns dies un noi anglès que no conec em va començar a seguir a l'Instagram. Vaig mirar quines fotos tenia i veig una foto d'un mono caputxí que havia tirat al Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center (CRARC) on havia fet un voluntariat. Ja fa temps que tenia al cap fer un voluntariat amb animals, així que vaig mirar la web del centre de rescat i tenia molt bona pinta. No m'ho vaig pensar dos cops i els hi vaig enviar un mail explicant que estavem viatjant, en uns dies arribariem a Costa Rica i si seria possible fer un voluntariat allà. No teniem experiència però si motivació, i ens van acceptar!

Arribat el moment creuem la frontera de Nicaragua a Costa Rica i anem cap al CRARC. Aquest es troba a un entorn selvàtic a dues hores de la capital, San José. El CRARC rescata animals que han sofert algún problema físic o psicològic, els cuida i rehabilita, i si és possible, els allibera. Aquí arriben monos que sigut mascotes, o treballat en circs, perezosos que tenen discapacitats, mussols que s'han fet mal o que s'han quedat orfes, lloros, pavos reals, porc espins, kinkajus (ossos de la mel), opòssums (zarigüella), etc. Cada animal se'l bateja al arribar al centre i té la seva història personal. L'intenció sempre és reintroduir-los al seu hàbitat natural però a vegades han estat massa en contacte amb humans o tenen algun problema i no es poden reintroduÏr, llavors s'opta per dona'ls-hi la millor qualitat de vida possible. Com el tití, que se't tira a sobre perquè el raspallis amb un raspall de dents, o els kinkajus, que cada nit quan els anava a veure (durant el dia dormen) es posàven cap per avall i amb la panxa cap a fora perque els gratèssis.

Al centre erem uns 20 voluntaris, de totes les edats, i amb tansols una setmana que hi hem estat hem fet molta amistat. Jo, desde el primer moment, m'he adaptat molt bé a l'entorn. Les tasques principalment eren netejar els espais dels diferents animals, donar-los branques fresques i menjar, cuidar-los, fer-los jugar, etc. Em va fascinar l'hospital d'animals on hi han alguns que requereixen especial atenció, com un opòssum bebé que estava a la incubadora, una mofeta, dos esquirols bebes, un ocell orfe, un mussol petit i tres perezosos amb problemes psicològics. Així que em vaig apuntar per fer torns extra a l'hospital i donar llet als animals bebes amb una xeringa.

El primer dia em diuen que ha vingut un taxista i ha deixat un sac amb un mussol ferit que s'havia trobat, doncs jo còrrer a buscar el veterinari del centre. Un cop a l'hospital em diu que em posi guants i mascareta, i l'ajudi a aguantar el mussol per curar-li l'ala. Estava molt mal ferit i ja em va dir el veterinari que potser no sobrevivia, i la segona nit es va morir, una pena. Un altre dia van portar al centre un cèrvol petit amb la pota trencada, una boa constrictor de 2metres i un lloro. Cada dia passava alguna cosa.




L'animal estrella del centre són els perezosos, n'hi ha uns 25, i la veritat és que és un animal fascinant. El nom no li vé de casualitat doncs són extremadament lents, mesuren cada moviment que fan i la major part del dia se'l passen dormint a dalt de l'arbre. Nomès baixen de l'arbre un cop per setmana a cagar, així que mai m'haguès imaginat que m'alegrès tant al veure caca d'un animal. Pots tenir molt contacte amb alguns animals però amb altres has d'evitar tocar-los per si es poden reintroduïr. Quan estava a la gàbia dels monos udoladors, em saltaven a sobre per jugar, m'agafaven dels cabells o em treien la llengua per lligar amb mi. Els esquirols també sempre se'm pujaven a sobre i després tenia problemes per sortir perquè me'ls treia de sobre i em tornaven a pujar. A més de la fauna del centre hi han espècies extres, com les 3 taràntules que he vist durant la setmana, una d'elles sempre estava al mateix forat així que podies anar-la a veure a la nit.

Una nit mentres jugàvem al llop (un joc d'acusacions), van venir a cridar-me dues franceses voluntàries que tenien problemes per alimentar l'Artuito, un mussol petitó, perquè volava tota l'estona i els hi feia por que s'escapés. Em van avisar a mi perquè no parlàven gaire anglès i jo els hi parlava en francès. L'Artuito és un dels meus preferits, així que entro ràpidament a la gàbia perquè no s'escapi i em va volar a l'ombro, encara no m'ho havia fet mai. Així que va ser fàcil donar-li els trossos de pollastre que s'havia de menjar.







Aquí realment hi ha moltíssima feina a fer ja que només porten 8 mesos en aquesta ubicació. La fundadora em va explicar que abans el centre de rescat estava a la costa carib, on també rescataven tortugues i protegien la platja on ponien els ous, fins que els va arribar un comunicat que havien que marxar d'alla en una setmana. Una empresa holandesa conjuntament amb el govern de Costa Rica construiria un port allà. Si continuaven protegint l'espècie podrien declarar la zona protegida i així evitar la contrucció del port, però van matar a un dels encarregats del centre, així que van decidir marxar. Van haver de traslladar tots els animals en molt poc temps a una nova ubicació, així que encara hi han moltes coses a fer.

Ha estat una experiència meravellosa i estic molt orgullós d'haver-la viscut durant el viatge. La nit abans de marxar, vam sortir de festa amb la majoria de voluntaris i va ser molt divertit. Després d'haver dormit menys de dues hores, ens vam despertar per esmorzar i marxar, però ens estava esperant un regal de comiat, la gata del centre havia parit 5 gatets aquella nit! Tothom estava esperant aquest moment desde feia setmanes.

Costa Rica és força car i és un dels països que es poden fer com un viatge independent en uns anys, així que decidim continuar cap a Panamà a veure quines sorpreses ens esperen.




[ENGLISH]
Some days ago, a british guy that I don't know started following me on Instagram. I looked to his photos and I saw a photo of a capuchin monkey that he took in Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center (CRARC) where he did a volunteering. I had in mind for a long time doing a volunteering with animals, so I looked into the website of the rescue center and it seemed really nice. Therefore, I didn't think twice about it and I sent them an email explaining that we are travelling, in some days we would be in Costa Rica and if it would we possible doing a volunteering there. We didn't have experience with animals but we had motivation, so they accepted us!

We crossed the border from Nicaragua to Costa Rica and we headed to CRARC, which is located in a jungle environment two hours away from the capital, San José. CRARC rescues animals that have suffered any kind of physical or psychological problem, they take care of them, rehabilitate them and, if it's possible, release them. The kind of animals that arrive there are monkeys that have been pets, that have worked in circus, sloths that have disabilities, injured owls or that are orphans, abandoned parrots, turkeys, porc epines, kingkajus, opossums, etc. Each animal receives a name when arriving to the center and all of them have a personal story. The goal is always releasing them to their natural environment, but sometimes they've been too much in contact with humans or they have a severe problem which avoids releasing them, then the approach is giving them the best possible quality of life. Like the marmoset, which jumps on you to get brushed with a teeth brush, or the kingkajus, that every night when I was going to see them (during the day they sleep) they were coming next to me, staying upside down, with the belly outside for you to scratch them.

In the center we were around 20 volunteers from all ages and in only one week that we've been there, we've got along so well. From the beginning, I've adapted myself so well to the environment. The tasks were mainly cleaning the spaces for the different animals, giving them fresh branches and food, take care of them, play with them, etc. I was so fascinated with the animals hospital where some of them require special attention, like a baby opossum that was in the incubator, a skunk, two baby squirels, an orphan bird, a small owl and three sloths with psychological problems. So I signed up for doing extra shifts in the hospital and give milk to the baby animals with a syringe.
 
The first day, they told me that a taxi driver came and left a bag with an injured owl that he found, then I had to run to find the vet of the center. Once in the animal hospital, he told me to wear gloves and mask, and I should help him hold the owl to heal his wing. He was really bad injured and the vet told me that maybe it wouldn't survive. The second night it died, really sad. Another day they brought a smal deer with the broken leg, a two meters boa constrictor and a parrot. Everyday was happening something.

The animal star of the center are the sloths, there's like 25 of them, and it's really a fascinating animal. The spanish name "perezoso" (lazy) is not a coincidence because they are extremely slow, they measure every movement they do and most of the day they sleep on top of the trees. They only go down the tree once a week to poo, so I wouldn't imagine myself being happy for seeing animal shit. You can have a lot of contact with some animals, but you have to avoid touching others that might be releasable. When I was in the howler monkeys cage, they were jumping on me to play, pull my hair or show me their tongue. The squirels also always were jumping on me and afterwards I was having problems to go out of the cage because I was putting them away and they were jumping on me again. Besides the animals from the center, there were extra species, like the three tarantulas I saw during the week, one of them was always in the same hole and you could go and see it at night.

One night while we were playing the werewolf (a discussion game), two french volunteers called me because they were having problems to feed Artuito, a small owl, because it was flying all the time and they were afraid it would escape. They called me because they don't speak so well english and I was speaking french with them. Artuito is one of my favourites, so I quickly entered to the cage in order that it wouldn't escape and it flew onto my shoulder, it was the first time doing that. So it was easy giving it the pieces of chicken it had to eat.

There's a lot of work to do because they've only been in this location for 8 months. The founder explained me that before the rescue center was in the caribean coast, where they were also rescuing turtles and they were protecting the beach where they were putting the eggs, until a communicate arrive that they had to leave in one week. A dutch enterprise together with the government of Costa Rica would build a harbour there. If they would continue protecting the turtles, they could declare it protected area and avoid the construction of the harbour, but someone killed one of the responsibles of the center, so they decided leaving the place. They had to move all the animals to a new location in a really short time, so there's still plenty of things to do.

It has been a wonderful experience and I'm so glad having done it now. The night before leaving we partied with most of the volunteers. After less than two hours of sleep, we woke up to have breakfast and leave, but a farewell present was waiting for us, the cat of the center had given birth to 5 kittens that night! Everybody was waiting for it for some weeks.

Costa Rica is really expensive and is one of the countries that I think I can do independently in some years, so we decided to continue to Panama. Let's see which surprises are waiting for us.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Nicaratwo


Video del viatge a Nicaragua en menys de 2 minuts amb un segon al dia.
Video of the trip to Nicaragua in less than 2 minutes with one second everyday.

[ENGLISH FOLLOWS]
Ara mateix estic a un bus tipus bus escolar americà on estan posant una peli d'acció tipus Jackie Chan on un tio que sembla japonès acaba de saltar per sobre de 15 persones, travessar un mur per acabar dient "Que onda wei? Tenemos que platicar.".  Contrastos constants són els que estic vivint en aquest viatge i més a la segona part d'aquest viatge a Nicaragua.

Hi han dues maneres d'arribar a Corn Islands (islas del maiz), amb avió o per terra i vaixell, així que com que tinc més temps que pressupost, no hi vaig anar amb avió. No va ser curt però va ser tota una experiència. Sortim de l'illa volcànica d'Ometepe i desprès de tres busos i un vaixell arribem a el Rama, aquí literalment s'acaba la carretera. Baixem del bus i tot està a la més absoluta foscor, ens diuen que avui se n'ha anat la llum aquí, així que trec el frontal i trobem un allotjament cutre i barat per passar la nit. Malgrat no hi havia llum al poble, la nostra habitació donava a un local on tenien la música a tope alimentada per un grup elèctric, també és mala llet, però estava rebentat així que em vaig adormir a l'instant.

L'endemà ens informen que hem tingut la sort que just surt un vaixell carguero cap a Corn Island, només n'hi han dos o tres a la setmana. El vaixell es diu Genesis, i era una predicció que això seria com l'arca de Noé amb espècies limitades; humans, porcs i vaques. Els nostres seients eren o bé el terra o caixes de cervesa, ara entenc perquè sempre et serveixen la cervesa amb un tovalló a la punta. Sort que una dona ens va avisar i vam comprar una hamaca al mercat. A poc més de dos metres, de tant en tant una pixada de vaca, un crit de porc, l'únic soroll constant era l'aigua i el motor.


 

Després de 17 hores de trajecte i vàries parades on posàven i treien mercaderies, arribem a l'illa gran de corn island. Aquí ens allotjem a unes cabanyes d'un senyor que ens fa preu perquè venim recomanats i perquè serem dels seus últims clients, en una setmana tanca el negoci perquè es jubila. La platja està a 10 passes de l'allotjament i un escull de corall a 30 metres nadant. Pel carrer coneixem a l'Eliska i el Tim, una parella molt simpàtica amb els que anem cap a little corn island i compartim uns dies amb ells.

L'illa gran és molt maca, encara que té un parell de peròs, cada dos per tres un taxi et pitava per si volies pujar i té una pista d'aterratge al mig de l'illa. Bé, doncs els peròs desapareixen a l'illa petita. No hi han vehicles de cap tipus, nomès bicicletes, i és veritablement paradisíaca. Si l'hi hagués de posar un pero diria que li canviessin el nom, doncs no vaig veure ni un blat de moro, el que si que hi havien eren mangos per tot arreu, així que l'anomenaria Mango Island. La naturalesa a l'illa és espectacular, hi ha selva per tot arreu, amb un munt de caminets per explorar, platges maquíssimes que envolten l'illa, bogavants per 5 euros amb el seu acompanyament i molta vida subaquàtica. Vaig aprofitar per fer snorquel o buceig cada dia, nomès per veure corall ja valia la pena, però quan veia mantes, taurons i bancs de peixos inmensos ja explotava de felicitat.

Aquí ens vam allotjar a casa del Mr. James, un senyor de 80 anys que era tot un personatge. Passàvem moltes estones parlant amb ell i ens explicava la seva vida, que va arribar a l'illa el 1930 quan nomès eren 5 famílies, també filosofava molt amb el sentit de la vida, era molt interessant.

Un dia passejant de platja en platja amb el Tim, l'Eliska i els Luis i recollint mangos, de cop sento un crec sobre meu, em cubreixo el cap amb els braços i em cau un coco just a la vora. Ja que casi em cau al cap, el recullo per menjar-nos-el. Al arribar a casa ens veiem al jardí amb un "machete" intentant obrir el coco i... no es tant fàcil com sembla. Ens crida una veïna per dir-nos "Así no! Ya os mando a mi hija para que os ayude." Venen corrent 4 nens i la mes gran, que tenia 8 anys, agafa el machete i comença a obrir el coco amb una destresa que ens deixa totalment en ridícul. No m'imagino a casa meva que ningú li deixi aquesta responsabilitat a una nena de 8 anys, sovint tendim a sobreprotegir-los, per això em sorprenen cada dia els nens aquí, els veig super madurs, espavilats i capaços de fer qualsevol cosa.





L'anada a les illes va ser amb l'arca de Noé. A la tornada, continuant amb les cites religioses, posem les hamaques a sobre d'uns tancs plens de peixos amb gel i, de tant en tant, es multipliquen els peixos amb els fils de pescar i els hams que pengen de la popa del vaixell.

Abans de creuar cap a Costa Rica passem pel Castillo, una població a la ribera del riu San Juan, on els espanyols van construir un castell per defensar el territori dels constants atacs pirates. Aquí, anem a la selva de la reserva indio maiz, on veiem monos, un cocodril, un perezoso, moltes papallones i granotes verinoses.



Ja gairebé porto un mes a Nicaragua i la veritat és que m'ha encantat; he viscut molt les tradicions locals, he vist els grans contrastos entre la Nicaragua de l'est i de l'oest, l'amabilitat de la gent i la impressionant naturalesa.

[ENGLISH]
Currently, I'm in a bus, like the ones from the american schools, where they are playing an action movie like the Jackie Chan ones, in which a japanese guy just jumped over 15 people, going through a wall to finish saying "Que onda wei? Tenemos que platicar." (mexican spanish). Constrasts like this one are the ones that I'm living in this trip and more in the second part of this trip to Nicaragua.

There are two ways of reaching Corn Islands, by plane or by land and boat. Due to the fact that I have more time than budget, I didn't go by plane. It wasn't short but such an experience. We went out of the volcanic island of Ometepe and after three buses and a boat we arrived in El Rama, here the road ends. We left the bus and everything was completely dark, they told us that there was no light that night. So I got the flash light and we found a basic and cheap accomodation to spend the night. Although there was no light in the town, our room was just next to a local where they had really loud music powered by an electric group. What a bad luck, but I was so tired that I fell sleep immediately.

The following day they informed us that we've been lucky because a cargo ship was leaving to Corn Island that day, there's only two or three every week. The boat is called Genesis, and it was a prediction that this was gonna be like the Noe Ark with limited species; humans, pigs and cows. Our seats were either the floor or beer boxes, now I understand why they always serve the beer with a napkin on the top. Luckily, a woman warned us and we bought a hamack in the market. A bit more than two meters from us, from time to time a cow was peeing, a pig was grunting, the only constant noise was the water and the engine.

After 17 hours of journey and some stops where they were taking in and out goods, we arrived in big Corn Island. Here we stayed in some cabbins of a man that made us a good offer because we were coming recommended by a friend and we would be one of his last customers, he will close the business in a week because he is getting retired. The beach is 10 steps away and a coral reef is 30 meters away swimming. In the street we met Eliska and Tim, a really nice couple with who we went to little Corn Island together and we shared some days with them.

The big island is so beautiful, although it has a couple of buts, every now and then a taxi was touching the horn if you wanted to get a ride and it has a plane landing road in the middle of the island. Well, those buts disappear in the small island. There's no vehicles, only bikes, and is really paradise. If I had to tell a but, I'd would say that they should change its name, because I didn't see a single corn there, but it was full of mangos everywhere, so I'd call it Mango Island. The nature in the island is amazing, it's full of jungle everywhere, plenty of paths to explore, beautiful beaches surounding the island, lobsters for 5 euros with its side dishes and a huge underwater life. I was doing snorkel or diving everyday, only to see the coral was worthy, but when I was seeing manta rays, sharks and huge banks of fishes I was exploting of happiness.

We stayed in Mr. James' house, an 80 years old man who was such a character. We spent long times talking with him and he was explaining us his life, that he arrived in the island in 1930 when only 5 families were living there, also he was philosophing about the sense of life, it was so interesting.

One day walking from beach to beach with Tim, Eliska and Luis, and collecting mangos, suddenly I heard something breaking above me, so I covered my head with the arms and a coconut fell down just next to me. Due to it almost fell on my head, I collected it to eat
it. When we arrived at home, we were in the garden with a "machete" (big knife) trying to open the coconut and... it's not that easy as it seems. A neighbour shouted us to say "Not like this! I'll send you my daughter to help you". Four children came into our home running and the oldest one, who was 8 years old, took the "machete" and started opening the coconut with such a skill that left us totally ridiculous. I can't imagine anyone in my home allowing this responsability to an eight years old girl. Often, we use to overprotect them, that's why everyday the children here they surprise me, I see them really mature, awake and capable to do anything.

The way to the islands was with Noe Ark. On the way back, continuing with the religious quotes, we put the hamacks above some tanks full of fishes and ice and, from time to time, the fishes were multiplied by the fishing strings and the hook that hang from the stern of the cargo boat.

Before crossing to Costa Rica, we go to El Castillo, a village next to the river San Juan, where the spanish built a castle to defend the territory of the continuous pirat attacks. Here, we went to the jungle in the reserve Indio Maiz, where we saw monkeys, a crocodile, an sloth and poisonous frogs.

I've been almost a month in Nicaragua and the truth is that I love it; I've lived so much the local traditions, I've seen the big contrasts between the eastern and western Nicaragua, the kindness of the people and the amazing nature.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Nicaraone

 

[ENGLISH FOLLOWS]
Tinc moltes esperances posades amb Nicaragua perquè conec poca gent que hi ha anat, així que no crec que sigui tant turístic i els que hi han anat o hi han viscut me n'han parlat molt bé. León és la primera ciutat que visitem, no té res a veure amb León d'Espanya, a part de tenir una catedral gran, però també té el seu encant.

Comencem a veure moltes referències revolucionàries que ens recorden a Cuba i a Mèxic, així que comencem a indagar fins a arribar al museu de la revolució. Aquí ens espera un excombatent de la revolució Nicaragüense que ens fa una visita increïble pel museu, ens explica amb una emoció brutal cada quadre, cada mural, cada foto que hi ha al museu. Acabem la visita al teulat del museu, on hi havien unes vistes genials de la catedral i dels volcans que envolten la ciutat. La vista era molt maca, encara que l'hauria disfrutat més si no pensés que en qualsevol moment es podia trencar el sostre tipus uralita sobre el que caminàvem.

És setmana santa i aquí també es viu moltíssim, de fet comencen a fer processons un mes abans de setmana santa i es veuen pel terra dibuixos cristians fets amb serrin de colors. Avui es fa la processó de San Benito, un sant que és negre, així que ens vam acostar a l'església de San Benito per veure l'ambient. Tothom posava veles negres per fer promeses al sant i demanar miracles. I si havies fet una promesa l'any anterior, havies de vestir de blanc a la processó o fer algun oferiment a San Benito a canvi. Els oferiments anaven des d'anar de genolls durant la processor a escombrar l'església o oferir "chicha de maiz", una beguda de blat de moro. Així que ens vam acostar amb un got de plàstic a una senyora que tenia un barril enorme a la seva vora, i li vam dir "por San Benito" i ens va emplenar el got de chicha, aquesta era la seva manera de tornar el que havia demanat l'any anterior.

 




Continuem cap a Granada, una ciutat molt bonica i on continuen les processons. Avui anirem a veure les portes de l'infern, això és el que es creu del cràter del volcà Masaya, un volcà actiu on anem en furgoneta fins al cràter a veure com la lava, amb un color tant intens que es fa indescriptible, fa bombolles. El dia següent anem caminant fins a la Laguna d'Apoyo per una entrada que no es gens turística, la caminata és llarga però val molt la pena passar per les comunitats locals i només estar amb gent local al llac. Aquí a Nicaragua tenim una guia a la distància, l'Elena, una amiga del germà del Luis que ha viscut quatre anys aquí i ens dona recomanacions boníssimes.

 

Ens dirigim cap a la platja, desde Belice que no hi hem anat així que ja hi han ganes! Anem a Playa Gigante, un poblet de pescadors amb pocs turistes, només algun surfista, i unes platges verges del Pacífic. Ens allotgem a la cima d'un turó amb unes vistes al mar espectaculars, sobretot al final del dia on el sol es pon pel mar. Cada dia ens aventurem a explorar la zona fent el nostre camí de ronda (camí que va de platja en platja pel litoral català). Passem per platges i cales cada qual més maca. Només hi ha un problema, aquí no ha arribat la llei de costes, tot i que la majoria de platges són verges i encara no s'ha construit gaire, els terrenys de la vora són privats i a vegades prohibeixen l'accès pel seu terreny, per tant només et queda anar per les roques de vora el mar. El primer dia, l'anada va ser molt espectacular, de roca en roca, de platja en platja, i veient tot tipus d'animalons, crancs, ermitans, una espècie de paramecis, ocells, monos, etc. A la tornada, la marea va pujar i vam tenir alguns obstacles per passar per les roques, en algun moment ens vam posar ben xops i hi va haver un punt que haguès sigut bastant perillòs passar per allà, així que vam fer mitja volta a l'última platja, vam pujar una duna i vam anar pels terrenys privats fins a la següent platja.


 

La següent parada és la illa d'Ometepe, una illa amb dos volcans al mig del llac de Nicaragua. Aquí el temps sembla que es para, tot és molt autèntic i preciós. Et creues tota l'estona amb vaques, cavalls, porcs, pollastres, gossos, granotes gegants i, de tant en tant, monos. Ens allotgem a Mèrida, una part poc turística de l'illa, a un lloc senzill però que està davant del llac i té vistes als volcans que és l'important. Anem amb bici, pugem al volcà Maderas, ens banyem al llac, veiem la posta de sol cada dia i conèixem a gent molt maja. Ens dirigim al carib, encara tindré Nicaragua per uns dies, però ja ha superat les expectatives de llarg. 

 


[ENGLISH]
I've got many expectations in Nicaragua because I only know a few people who has been there, so I don't think it will be that turistic, and the ones who have been there or have lived there have told me it's so beautiful. Leon is the first city that we visit, it's totally different than Leon in Spain, besides having a big cathedral, but it's also charming.

We start seeing many revolutionary references that remember us to Cuba and Mexico, so we begin investigating until we arrive in the museum of the revolution. Here an exfighter of the Nicaraguan revolution is waiting for us and did us an incredible visit in the museum. He was explaining with a huge emotion each canvas, mural, photo ofthe museum. We finished the visit in the roof of the museum, where there were amazing sights of the cathedral and the volcanos surounding the city. The sights were so beautiful, although I would have enjoyied more if I wouldn't be thinking that at any moment the uralita roof that was holding us could break.

It's Easter and here the people are also so passionate about it. In fact, they start making processions one month before Easter and you can see cristian drawings on the floor made out of coloured sawdust. Today is the procession of San Benito, a black saint, so we went to the church of San Benito to see what's going on. Everybody was lighting black candles to make promises to the saint and ask for miracles. If you made a promise the year before, you had to dress in white in the procession or make some kind of offering to San Benito in return. The offerings could be from going on your knees during the procession to sweep the church or offering "chicha de maiz", a drink made out of corn. So we went with a plastic glass to a woman next to a huge barrel, and we said "for San Benito" and she filled up the glasses of chicha. This was her way to give back what she ask for the year before.

We arrive in Granada, a really nice city where the processions continue. Today, we are going to the gates of hell, this is what the people believed of the Masaya volcano, an active volcano where we went by van to the crater to see how the lava, with such an intense color that makes it indescriptible, makes bubbles. The following day, we went walking to Laguna Apoyo through an entrance that is not touristic at all. The way is long but it's worthy passing by the local communities and being only with local people in the lake. Here in Nicaragua, we have a guide in the distance, Elena, a friend of Luis' brother who has been living here for four years and is giving us really good recommendations.

We are heading to the beach, from Belize we haven't been there so we are willing to go! We go to Playa Gigante, a fishermen village with only a few surfers, and virgin beaches of the Pacific. We are hosted in the top of a hill with wonderful views to the sea, even more at the end of the day when the sun sets in the sea. Everyday we take the adventure of exploring the area doing our "camí de ronda" (path that goes from beach to beach in the catalan coast). We pass by beaches, each one more beautiful than the last one. There's only a problem, here hasn't arrived the law of the coasts. Even most of the beaches are virgin and there aren't many constructions, the properties next to the beaches are privat and sometimes they forbid accessing them trough their property, so the only option is going through the rocks next to the sea. On the first day, going was so gorgeous, from rock to rock, beach to beach, and seeing all kind of animals; crabs, hermits, a kind of paramecium, birds, monkeys, etc. On the way back, the tight went up and we had some obstacles to go through the rocks, we got wet and at some point it would have been dangerous continuing the way, so we turned back to the last beach, we went up a dune and we went through the private terrains until the next beach.

The next stop is Ometepe island, an island in the middle of the lake of Nicaragua with two volcanoes. Here, the time seems to stop, everything is really authentic and pretty. You are crossing all the time cows, horses, porks, chickens, dogs, big frogs and, from time to time, monkeys. We are hosted in Merida, a part of the island that is not so turistic, in a simple place but in front of the lake with views to the volcanoes, which is the important thing. We go biking, climb up the Maderas volcano, swim in the lake, see the sun set everyday and meet nice people. We are heading to the caribbean, so I'll still have Nicaragua for some days, but it has already highly exceeded the expectations.