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Tales from an intrepid viajero in Latin America Despite promising myself that I´d never be so self-indulgent as to write a blog that´s exactly what I´m going to do. Welcome to the blog that I´m writing while studying Spanish and travelling in Latin America over the next 8 months

Manizales - El Nevado Ruiz, hot springs and getting my hair cut...

COLOMBIA | Sunday, 17 May 2009 | Views [3300]

I`ve spent the last few days in Manizales which is the in the middle of Colombia`s Zona Cafatera (Coffee Country). The city itself is a fairly standard commerical city but it has a backdrop of stunning green hills and mountains. Whichever direction you look in there is green.

While I`ve been here I`ve managed to catch up with the Profes from the trip to the Cuidad Perdida a couple of times - it was good fun reminiscing about the jungle adventure and exchanging entertaining anecdotes of what we`ve been doing in the intervening weeks.

El Nevado Ruiz...

The other day I made a trip to El Nevado Ruiz, a volcano of 5,300m. The strange thing about this peak is that you go to about 4,800m in a van - apparently, it is the fifth highest road in the world. Most of the time you can only climb to 5,000m due to the snow and difficult conditions. Our guide told us that we probably would only make it to 4,900m as there has been a lot of snow in the last few weeks and it was dangerous. We got to about 4,900m and it didn`t seem particularly dangerous to me - a couple of us just continued walking on so the guide didn`t have much option but to let us keep climbing. At 5,000m a few people stopped and the guide told us that we could go up to 5,100m if we wanted. It is actually quite hard climbing at those altitudes but that might just be because I try walking too quickly. Anyhow, we did have to stop at 5,100m although going further didn`t seem particularly dangerous to me. The problem with tourism in some parts of Colombia is that it is too well regulated. If the Nevado Ruiz were in Guatemala I have no doubts we`d have gone to the summit - still it was a great experience and the scenery is spectacular around there.

Termales de Santa Rosa...

The other day trip that I really enjoyed near Manizales was to the hot springs at Santa Rosa (thanks to Andrés for the recommendation). Apart from Fuentes Georginas (Xela) these are the most spectacular and "hot" hot springs that I`ve been to. They are set at the foot of some waterfalls in the spectacular countryside around Manizales. The water comes out of the springs at around 70C but cools down to 40C in the pool - you can only stay in there for 10-15m at a time before it is time to cool off under the waterfall. Muy Chevere.    

And now, that hair cut...

Despite speaking very decent Spanish I am still more than capable of committing the odd howler. For example, the other day I went for a hair cut. All appeared to be going well after my instructions of "can you cut it in the same style as it is now and take 2-3cm off the top" (I haven`t quite worked out yet the equivalent of "grade three, back and sides"). After the lady had finished with her masterpiece I realised that I could probably do with her thinning out my hair and sideburns a bit. I couldn`t quite remember the word for sideburns but thought it might be "pestañas". So I asked her "usted puede ralear el pelo y las pestañas tambien". The hairdresser looked slightly mortified by this so I guessed that I might have got the word wrong. So I pointed to my sideburns and asked here to remind me what they are in Spanish - "those would be your patillas mi amor, you just asked me to thin out your eyelashes". Doh. I mean doesn`t your average Colombian male ask their hairdresser to thin out their eyelashes?  And why can`t the Spanish language at least give you a hint that "pestañas" may have something to do with your eyes - at least English has the word "eye" before "lashes" to give you a hint that "eyelashes" might have something to do with your eyes...

Tags: hot springs, mountains, spanish

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