A Travellerspoint blog

Thank you taxpayers

sunny 71 °F
View To the equator and beyond! on tltisme's travel map.


Our first housing on this trip has been fantastic. We will not be staying in anything close to this again on this trip and perhaps never again in my life. It has been quite a treat. Amy and I have resided in our own wing of the Ambassador's residence, with office, bedroom, and bath it has been superbly comfortable. It took me a little reflection to figure out why the dynamic here is different than say an Islesboro summer 'cottage' with cooks and maids. The McKinley's do not hire or pay for the security (gated compound with constant perimeter patrol and some heavy weaponry at the gate), cooks, cleaners, gardeners, or house manager. Instead this is the residence provided to the Ambassador and his family by the United States in order to keep them safe, supported, and comfortable. The house and services are benefits to the demanding job for Mr. McKinley and an attempt to help ground the family in their relatively short time in a foreign place. Though Amy and I have been lucky to experience some of the perks of being the child of a diplomat we have also talked to Claire and her brother about the difficulties of moving from country to country throughout their lives. The McKinley's transient nature may not have allowed for many long term friends but it has given them amazing perspective and experience of the world (as well as proficiency in multiple languages). They have been very hospitable to us and we have learned much about Colombia and its capital (along with many recommendations for Peru and Bolivia).

Claire told us to call the kitchen and order whatever we wanted for breakfast (in Spanish of course). It was brought right to our room...amazing.

Beautiful and well maintained gardens and grounds. I got to kick a ball around the tennis court and get a little work out in. The altitude hits you very, very quickly.

Posted by tltisme 18:59 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)


Ambassador's Residence, Bogota, Colombia

semi-overcast 66 °F
View To the equator and beyond! on tltisme's travel map.


It is very nice here! Too nice to explain right now, I will have to upload some pictures, and have more time to write. The trip down went smoothly, a slight scare when Delta warned us we may be denied entry without proof of onward travel but Colombian customs officials weren't concerned. Bogota is big! Like 9 million people big and quite modern. At 8600 feet though its not hot, highs around 70 and lows around 50 most of the time and rains often and sporadically we hear. Just a few random drizzles on us so far. Being a guest at the Ambassador's house is amazing, like a guest at the nicest vacation resort I can imagine, except friendlier and more real somehow. Fundamentally it is a families home, currently the McKinley's for a three year post (standard length for ambassadors) and my friend Claire has been here for her Christmas vacation from Mary Washington. Claire and her family have been very kind and hospitable to us and it is great to orient ourselves here and see what we can of Bogota with a friend to guide us before we venture out into the country.

Posted by tltisme 21:38 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Soccer in the City

Got to play for the 'All English' soccer team my friend Ian plays on (a Mainer but his roommate is French/German and got him on the team). They play in rec leagues on Pier 40 and Chelsea Pier, pretty good soccer on turf fields with serious players of all nationalities, all in the shadow of skyscrapers.

New York City is huge. Massive. I am always awed as walk down the street canyons or ride through the maze of tunnels. My senses are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people, languages, food, lights, and constant movement. There are unlimited things to do, places to go, and work to be done. This fall and winter I have been inside this metropolis at least half a dozen times and at last feel marginally comfortable riding the subway and walking the streets without feeling completely drained afterwards. I hope this has been good practice for South American cities though I know there will be many new and overwhelming experiences ahead. Anyway, it has been nice to have some positive experiences in NYC and become a little less daunted by the concrete jungle.

Central Park bubble blower! He attracted quite the crowd, including a couple little twin girls, shrieking as they ran to pop the bubbles and thwart the amorphous sculptures from growing larger.

Checked out the new Islamic wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and walked through as many other exhibits as we could. Museum going is surprisingly tiring and the MET has much more than you can really see in a day.

Flight to Bogota tomorrow. Backpack is packed, just a few more little details to wrap up...!

Posted by tltisme 13:50 Archived in USA Tagged futbol Comments (0)


are we doing in South America

WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. In fact, the acronym began as Working Weekends on Organic Farms when it was first organized in England in 1971. Demand for longer working periods incurred a change to Willing Workers on Organic Farms which was transformed into the current word choice in 2000 at the first international WWOOF conference. It turns out that immigration authorities were not keen on allowing 'free' migrant worker labor through some borders. "Living, learning, sharing organic lifestyles" is WWOOFs current tagline and it has always been about a meaningful exchange of volunteer help for "food, accommodation, and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles." I don't think the imported labor is enough to cause any significant impacts in macroeconomies, but the organization has grown dramatically so an economic study of micro and macroeconomic effects could be interesting...

I have never before WWOOFed but Amy has at multiple farms in Costa Rica and California. From what I know of her experiences and other friends who have, it can be entirely different depending on where you are and who your hosts are. WWOOF is really a network or simple directory of farms that are interested in hosting volunteers whose contact information is only supplied to members. WWOOF membership fees differ by country and region from free admittance to $50 or more. From my research of South American WWOOF listings there seems to be a wide variety of posts. From an organic commercial shrimp farm in Ecuador, to a design school for sustainable habitats, Organizmo (our first stop outside of Bogotá) interactive learning and dynamic experiences are inevitable. Not to mention all the more traditional sounding, family-run fruit, berry, vegetable, coffee, goat, pig, etc. organic farms, there is no telling what a WWOOFing experience will be like.

Besides the economic advantages of travelling between places where you work for your food and housing, WWOOFing guarantees a different experience altogether from traditional tourism. By staying in one community for two weeks or more at a time I hope to see what life is like there. Not simply 'see the sights' and attractions but witness some of the personal interactions and sub-cultures of this point on the globe. I hope these experiences will be enhanced by learning about the plants and animals that are cared for as well as building and energy practices of the people. Of course I also hope to play some football and though my espanol will not be great perhaps I can make some connections through love of the sport.

The map above shows the extent of our planned itinerary up to this point. It turns out that the father of a friend of mine from college is the US Ambassador to Colombia and she has extended an invitation to us when we first arrive in Bogotá. Thank you Claire! Once we leave the capital city we head to Organizmo, then check out the beautiful city of Medellin (no longer the center of drug trade it is still trying to outgrow its tainted reputation), before heading south to our second volunteer post at Finca Campo Bello. Next it is onward into Ecuador where we have one confirmed WWOOF host in Ecuador at the foot of the Tungurahua Volcano which is active. Apparently it often grumbles and belches ash and molten rock. The local people are used to it and pay little mind, simply sweeping the ash off their steps before going about their day. I also hope to get to the coast of Ecuador and hop on a boat to head to Isla de la Plata, nicknamed the 'Poor Man's Galapagos' it is certainly more in our price range and is said to be indistinguishable from the much farther offshore archipelago. After Ecuador, Amy and I will venture down into Peru where we have three different WWOOF locations lined up and many other things to see and do! The map includes a few details if you zoom in and click on points and when I begin to upload pictures they will be connected to points on the map. After Peru we plan to head into Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. Brazil requires a visa but we may go through that paperwork if we get that far, I would love to be there for the World Cup in 2014...

I am getting somewhat impatient to get started on this trip after all this preparation and planning. Five days to go, actually six since Amy called Delta and easily got our first flight from New York to Atlanta changed for no cost. Now instead of a 22 hour layover we leave the 11th and have only a few hours to wait in Atlanta. We were both surprised at how easy it was; it seems everyone at the airline is at the whim of the computer system, sometimes it works in your favor and often it doesn't. Though I have researched and read extensively for this trip there is always more to learn. A few more days left to practice Spanish, read guidebooks and websites, double-check packing lists, and make final preparations for leaving the country for a while. About time.

A good introductory guide to WWOOFing

Posted by tltisme 08:13 Tagged what? Comments (0)

New York. New Year.

sunny 46 °F

Fireworks supermarket in Tennessee. You're one stop shop for all amateur pyrotechnicians. They literally have shopping carts and baskets to fill to the brim as you walk down the aisles. My family often stops on our road trip to procure products for 4th of July celebrations in our firework intolerant state. There always seem to be an abundance of staff who are more than happy to offer recommendations and show footage of each product (I have been told each store has a staff party where one of every firework in the store is lit and observed). I may not be back for my families party this summer but a brought a few to my friend in the city for new years.
World Financial Center on the left and the under construction Freedom Tower on the right
At midnight we saw six different fireworks displays from this vantage point
New York City financial district from the roof of Ian's apartment building
Adios 2011

Posted by tltisme 08:05 Archived in USA Tagged fireworks Comments (0)

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