Tag Archives: Experiences

Al que madruga Dios le ayuda en la Central de Abastos de Bucaramanga – Rise and shine at the Central Food Market in Bucaramanga

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Aunque a veces cuesta madrugar, siempre he sentido que comenzar el día temprano me brinda cierta satisfacción.  Ver como la gente va llenando las calles, como los negocios van abriendo sus puertas y como la vida cotidiana va comenzando, son uno de mis placeres favoritos.   La reciente visita a la Central de Abastos de Bucaramanga (Colombia), Centroabastos, fue una experiencia inolvidable.  Fue muy gratificante ver como los agricultores, comerciantes, coteros, y un sinfín de emprendedores se reúnen fielmente en esta plaza para que los santandereanos podamos disfrutar de los alimentos exquisitos y frescos que caracterizan a  la región.

La rutina diaria en Centro Abastos comienza temprano.   Las puertas abren a las 3am y las frutas y las verduras no se hacen esperar.  Tampoco se hace esperar el frenesí de la gente…descargan bultos por un lado, regatean por el otro, hacen cuentas, cierran negocios, gozan entre ellos, y sudan hasta la última gota haciendo lo que les apasiona.  Y no solo se trabaja en esta plaza…hay tiempo para un tinto, una arepa, el caldo de costilla y hasta para una que otra copa de aguardiente que calme el frío mañanero.  En un abrir y cerrar de ojos van desapareciendo kilos y  kilos de alimentos y van desfilando cualquier cantidad de camiones rebosados de carga.  No faltan tampoco los famosísimos Renault antiguos que bien saben aprovechar los colombianos.  Como pude descubrir…es un sitio mágico.

Tal y como está organizado Centro Abastos, no lo recomendaría como un sitio turístico necesariamente.  No tiene la infraestructura necesaria para albergar turistas cómodamente y siendo justos, ese no es el objetivo actual de este lugar.   De todas formas, es un lugar abierto al público en general y aunque no sea un punto de interés turístico, recomiendo está experiencia a todos los que de alguna u otra forma están interesados en el campo, en la agricultura, en consumir productos locales y en apoyar el campo Colombiano.  Y por que no?…podemos pensar a futuro y que lugares como este y como las plaza de mercado que abundan en Colombia, se conviertan en sitios que los turistas quieran dejar de visitar.

Les comparto algunas fotos de esta experiencia y de la gente de la cual tenemos que estar muy orgullosos en Colombia.

Para mas información acerca de Centroabastos, favor visitar:

http://www.centroabastos.com/web/

________________________________________________________________________

Although sometimes is hard to wake up before the sun rises, I’ve always felt that starting the day early is very satisfying.  Watching as people fill the streets, businesses open up and daily life unfolds, are some of my favorite pleasures. The recent visit to the Distribution Centre of Bucaramanga (Colombia), Centroabastos, was an unforgettable experience. It was very gratifying to see how farmers, traders, “coteros”, and countless entrepreneurs faithfully gather in this food market so that ‘santandereanos’ can enjoy the delicious and fresh produce  typical of the region.

The daily routine starts early at Centroabastos. Doors open at 3am as the fruits and vegetables do not wait.  Neither does the frenzy of people …unloading crates on one side, haggling on the other, adding the numbers, closing deals, having fun with each other, and sweating till the last drop doing what they love.   And is not all work and no fun in this place… there’s time for a tinto (sweeten black coffee), an arepa, rib stew and even an occasional glass of “aguardiente” to calm the morning chill. In a blink of an eye, pound after pound of produce  disappear and the parade of overloaded trucks begins.  You can I also catch some of the antique Renault cars famously used by many farmers in Colombia.  As I found out…this is a magical place.

As Centroabastos is organized, I don’t necessarily recommend it as a tourist attraction. It does not have the appropriate infrastructure to comfortably accommodate tourists and to be fair, that is not the purpose of this place.  Nevertheless, it is open to the general public and although it is not a common point of interest, I recommend the experience to all those who in some way or another are interested in farming, in agriculture, in consuming  locally and supporting the Colombian countryside.  And why not? … We can think forward and imagine markets like this becoming places that tourists won’t want to miss.

Here are some photos of this experience and of the people of which we should be proud of in Colombia.

For more information on Centroabastos please visit:

http://www.centroabastos.com/web/

Delicious coffee and tasty treats at Honohono Cafe…Koenji style.

So, it has been three weeks living in the amazing metropolis of Tokyo, and of all the beautiful areas this city offers, I feel very fortunate to be living in Koenji, a charming and welcoming neighbourhood in the Suginami Ward, full of independent cafes, restaurants, and vintage stores tucked away in its endless maze of narrow streets.

Although I need to do a proper introduction to this little secret called Koenji, I could not help it getting ahead of myself and had to share with you what has now become my regular coffee spot in the neighbourhood.  Being a coffee lover,  I love roaming the streets looking for places where I can enjoy a good cup of coffee, a comfortable atmosphere, and great service.  Well…at Honohono Cafe I found that and much more.

Honohono is nestled in Koenji’s main pedestrian strip, about a 15-minute walk south of the JR station.  It looks very unassuming from the outside, but on the inside, the owners have done a great job to make you feel as if you are walking into your own living room…that is a living room full of beautiful vintage furniture, all of which I want to take home every time I visit.

The coffee is of course delicious and the main reason I come to Honohono.  It is served in a different hand-crafted cup each visit, making the smooth cremma look even tastier then it already is.   And if you are not a coffee lover per se…no need to worry.  Following on the guidelines of cafe culture in Tokyo, Honohono offers a food menu full of tasty treats…salads, curry dishes, miso soup (of course) and sweets that will make your mouth water.

The experience at Honohono Cafe wouldn’t be complete without the welcoming service that the owners provide.  Always friendly and with a big smile on their face, the two girls running this place are doing it right…and I am definitely sold on it.

Please do yourself a favour and visit Koenji and Honohono Café.  You will not be disappointed.

For more information please visit:  http://honohonocafe.com

Getsemaní embraces graffiti to showcase its spirit and heritage

On a recent visit to Cartagena, Colombia, the city that makes my mind wonder like no other, I got to experience first-hand the creativity and imagination that is brewing in Getsemaní, Cartagena’s not-so-well-kept secret.

Thanks to the first edition of the “Ciudad Mural” Urban Art International Festival,  the streets of this magical up-and-coming neighbourhood were covered with bright graffiti, history and lots of culture.  38 urban artists where responsible for this feast of colour, including 11 local artist who got the chance to showcase their city to the world.  I love the fact that one of the main goals of this festival was to create a new cultural experience for the local community which often time is forgotten in the midst of all the foreign tourism.

It is projects like this that make me proud of being Colombian.  It is also gratifying to see the attention the local communities get for something other than drugs and coffee.

Next time you are in Cartagena, be sure to get out of the now-common walled city to explore Getsemaní.  It holds many surprises and stories at every turn.  Let it dazzle you with its art and talent.

For more information on the festival visit:

http://www.vertigograffiti.com

Escape into a colonial oasis in the Colombian Andes.

Visiting Barichara in Santander, Colombia, is like traveling back in time…a time when happiness meant enjoying the simpler things and really taking it one day at a time.   It is a town that embraces the future without letting go of the past.

Nestled in the middle of the Colombian Andes, Barichara is a place to disconnect from the fast pace that we have become so accustomed to.   A leisurely walk around its cobblestone streets will let you discover most of what this Andean gem has to offer. You can wonder around in search of the perfectly hand-crafted art piece, peak through the half-opened wooden doors of the town’s endless colonial houses, chat with the ever so charming locals (including the mobile baker), or take the time to enjoy the delicious treats this oasis of creativity and peacefulness has to offer.

If you do decide to make this a stop during your Colombian journey, I highly recommend you drop by the School of Arts and Trades.  The school has wide assortment of crafts made by locals during free workshops offered in-house.  Or if typical and mouthwatering food is what you are after, try the goat glazed with ant sauce at the Las Cruces Restaurant, also within the School of Arts and Trades.

And if you are in Colombia or are planning to visit…please go to Baricharaa…taste of paradise awaits!

http://tallerdeoficiosbarichara.com

http://lanubeposada.com/home/