The Emerald world, such a rare gem-Columbia…oh yes and a little event of the Olympic hockey Finals

So here I am in Bogota the capital of Columbia. Somewhere I’ve never really wanted to go, somewhere my parents are hating me going, and the one place that everyone’s eyebrows are raised when you say you are visiting. But as my flight landed for transfer in Columbia and I didn’t fancy another 14 hour flight transfer wait, why not stay in the capital and explore country number five.

The Olympic Women’s hockey final has been played and I want to watch it delayed on iPlayer so I don’t even turn my phone on in case of messages from home or an update.

I vaguely remember a message or a blog saying I must queue for a taxi and make sure it’s an official one, so I see an official taxi booth and don’t need to queue as there’s only one person in front. Book myself in, and about £20 later have a man quite happily carrying my very heavy suitcase (minus that bloody 5kg i am carrying) to his taxi van and off we go. The view out of the windows already looks much more South American, more traditional and somewhere I think I’ll enjoy. A lovely thirty minute drive through the busy streets, through mainly built up areas and we arrive at the B and B (hidden behind iron gates??), ring the doorbell and out comes one of the owners.

Wow what an absolute treat for the eyes inside is. As you walk in to the main hall there is an open fireplace with old looking wooden seats around it, wooden staircases Dynasty like going up round to the top floor ,and there is my bedroom and all its splendour with a solid wooden door, apparently triple glazing to keep the road noise out, beautiful decoration, and an amazing bathroom. It’s even got a massage shower, you know the ones where you don’t have to have the water from the shower-head, you can press a button and it comes out of jet streams that are going for three different places on your back. I mean that is a great way to finish the holiday.

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The owners don’t just check you in like many a place, they sit down and have a chat as we have a bottle of wine, ask me what my plans are.  As I have no idea they discussed the options and tell me about a buddy system where a local student comes and spends the day with you giving you a tour by foot or by bike to do whatever you choose. The lovely owners are Rick who is American and his wife Beatrix who is Columbian. They have redecorated the B and B from scratch, down to every last detail.Such a lovely family feel, attention to detail and friendly atmosphere.

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A another person staying at the B&B pops back, a lovely Chinese man, and he sits and chats to us as well. He’s had a buddy for three days and absolutely raves about them. So decision made, buddy tomorrow. He also suggested the Salt Cathedral and Montserrate, so ideas at least.

So after a lovely hour chatting and planning, I head up to my room to unpack and watch the hockey gold medal match between Team GB and the favourites I have to admit the Netherlands. And as I’m sure you know by now we bloody rocked the shoot out and are Olympic Champions, we are just awesome particularly goalkeeper Maddie Hinch who didn’t put a foot wrong. Do I wish I was there? No, as fab as it would be, Columbia is already a bonus, and with lots to see I am excited for the next few day.

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Breakfast is cooked fresh for you and served down in front of the lovely fire place, fresh orange juice, cup of tea and pancakes how amazing is that. Best breakfast so far, best accommodation by far, and best hostel by a million miles.

My buddy for the day is Johnny, and off first to La Candelaria (the colonial centre) we head. A fab way to see the city, there’s a pedestrian/bikes only route right down the centre of town. We pass the hotel-penthouse that Guns and Roses trashed about 10 years ago, so badly that it only reopened last year because they refused to pay for the damage.

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The Gold museum where you can more than 55,000 pieces of gold and other materials from pre-Hispanic cultures. Fascinating videos showing how they made the Gold into the intricate little shapes. Using moulds from beeswax and then pouring in clay to create a mould that the Gold is then poured into. Each piece unique as the mould can only ever be used once.

Circling around a bit more through downtown to the oldest part of town were the first building is now two coffee shops, the best coffee shops in the area apparently. Through the narrowest road in town, very Diagon Alley esk.

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I went into the Museo Botero, dedicated to all things Chubby, by Fernando Botero. The art really is weird, paintings of chubby people and animals. Reminds me of cabbage patch kids.

There are lots of street traders about, so I get a lovely Christmas Gift for my brother, Star Wars themed. Love it, and I also get a Colombian coloured bracelet to add to my collection. And it’s only at this point that I realised that there is more yellow on the Colombian flag that red and blue. That is because of the Gold that was found here so they put it in the flag all those years ago. Pointless fact, maybe useful for pub quiz!

Off to stop for lunch at a quaint little cafe with three floors of seating. Johnny recommends me a local dish, it has everything you need for a balanced diet, beans, avocado, banana, shredded beef, fit for about a table of four but despite the weird mix of foods very enjoyable even if a tad on the large side.

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More street entertainers have set up as we head back, so it is very much like Covent Garden. You have the silver or gold sprayed statues that stay absolutely still, you have jugglers and various bands playing music. And then, racing Guinea Pigs. I mean, what on earth is that. So I stop as you do, and there is a load of overturned Tupperware boxes with holes cut and numbers written on the top and the game the public bet on a Tupperware box and a Guinea Pig is picked from the group, placed down and off it walks to its chosen pot. How random.

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We return the bikes and get a car instead and drive to Monserrate, Bogota’s proud symbol and at 3150m, a great view of the city.

There’s a church at the top, a major mecca for Pilgrims, also some food outlets, a restaurant and a small market area for souvenirs. There is 1500 step walk, however it is renowned for knife muggings particularly on week days, and I think it was closed today anyway. But best not to be in danger just for a trek hey!

The view is pretty amazing though, so worth the £5 return trip on the funicular.

On route back we pass hundreds of cyclists, young and old dressed up in old clothes from maybe the 1940s. We had seen them earlier in town as well, and it’s nice to see them again, they must have been cycling for about five hours. Great to see all ages involved in an event, happy, chatty, just an amazing bustling feel around them all. The bikes range from modern racers to old style, baskets on the front, unicycles, tandems, just every type you can imagine.

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After the wonders of Monserrate we head to the local flea market. Not sure I have ever been to a flea market to be honest, so it was quite interesting although I have bought enough ‘tat’ already this holiday and nothing grabs my attention particularly.

We walk around discussing Columbia in general, I ask about the stray dogs and he tells me the story about how the government didn’t like it so poisoned about 400 of them so that’s why there’s not many around at the minute. The streets are named Calles if they run perpendicular to the hills and Carerras if they run from North to South. We try the local ice-cream as it is apparently supposed to be lovely in South America, it’s no Rossi’s of Southend, but it was very nice. Its 2640m above sea level, the third highest capital city after La Paz and Quito. All fascinating.

Final part of the day is to drive up La Calera to watch sunset over the city. I do like a sunset and this was pretty good, although slightly marred by the clouds on the horizon. As you drive up there are hundreds of people parked up in various cafes overlooking the city, and I think we’re going to miss the sunset as I keep passing, passing, passing.  At 6pm the national anthem comes on, this is a daily occurrence all over the country. How very patriotic. But we finally find the stop he wants, the Beer Wagon, we head in and get a table outside our lovely open fire with half a view of the city.  He orders me a local drink-Canelazo, which costs a fortune I find out at the end, but was very nice. So the sun sets, such a wonderful day I have had with my Colombian buddy.

 

Now you don’t pay for the buddy but have to ‘tip’ what you think the day is worth. You get an envelope to leave money in, all secretly. I have no idea if I was too mean or over generous, but i was happy and paid what I thought was fair? Great programme though.

I check out the top things to do in Bogota when back at the B and B & B and decide on the Salt Cathedral, The Lake of Gold and if possible the restaurant Andres Carne de Res. The B & B owners Beatrix and Rick had offered a taxi driver when I needed one so I asked them if I could book him to take me to one or two of these locations, and within half an hour Beatrix has organised that I can actually do all three while I’m out, which leaves me time to peruse Bogota on my third and final day.

So here we are, day two, another amazing breakfast, local cake and sauce. Bless the taxi driver, doesn’t speak a word of English, but between my Google translate and his Google translate will get by during the day I’m sure.

We go back up the Le Calera hill, and today being a Sunday everyone seems to be out on their bikes. There are literally hundreds of people, good and bad abilities, young and old, cycling up on this apparently 10 km trip, it’s so great to see and no cars are honking their horns telling the bikes to get out the way. All the traffic just waits as the bikes have priority. I love this. And at the top of the hill where at the route finishes, there are bike stalls, cafes and hundreds of people milling around drinking, eating and socialising, what a great event. And apparently this is every Sunday.

 

So about two hours of driving later, slowed down by the cyclists, we get to do what we think it is the Lake Guatavita (lake of gold), however we find out that this is the nearest town and it is another 40 minutes’ drive to the entrance. There are some other people who have made the same mistake, some Brazilians who got off the bus there because they didn’t understand the Spanish driver, being Brazilian, and they ask if they can get a taxi, why not I say. Do my good deed for the day.

You have to walk around with a guide, she starts off saying she’ll translate to English for me after each speech, but then she gets bored and says she’ll do it at the end instead. I am the only English speaker here! So I try and muddle through picking up words here and there looking at what she’s pointing at, all very interesting. The weather is pretty rubbish, raining on and off so out comes the poncho again. Been a real godsend this holiday. I believe its even hot in the UK, how rude.

We passed a ceremonial house, look at plants with special powers/meanings, others that have been replanted, patterns on the paved floor and then we eventually get to the wonderful view that is the Lake of Gold. She talks about the greed of explorers who wanted the gold and how they have ‘broken’ the lake by their attempts to get to it. It is no longer a full circular glacial? lake but whether the story is true who knows. There are many stories about its history including how the gold ship in the gold museum was found in the lake as it was an offering by the Muiscas. Well worth a visit if you like views, although if you’re rushed for time not sure it’s high up on my list. But an enjoyable and informative trip none the less.

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Before I leave in the taxi I stop to have sweetcorn cooked on a traditional barbecue/fire. Probably the nicest sweetcorn I’ve tasted, love the street food. Off to the Salt Cathedral.

OMG, not sure if its the roads, the driving or I am actually not well but the drive is not good. I fell sick, need the window open to make me feel better, and then try and sleep for a bit.

Now this is something I would put on your list to visit if you are in Columbia and Bogota, it’s only about 50km from Bogota in Zipaquira. You go 180 metres underground, where 250,000 tonnes of salt have been mined and the chambers have now carved out. You walk through 14 chapels, representing the Stations of the Cross, Jesus last journey. The culmination being the amazing, awe inspiring mammoth cross, lit from the base up, like heaven itself.

There’s a light show, I didn’t think much of, a miner’s tour where you can be a miner for an hour, this was fun albeit all in Spanish. Pick axing away, walking in pitch black. If you manage to ‘mine’ anything you can take it home with you.

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There’s a 3D movie on how the chambers came about, fascinating for adult and children as its part in cartoon form, and then stalls where you can buy souvenirs, emeralds and photos if you’ve posed earlier in the tour.

So onto part three of day two. Andres Carne de Res. How do I describe it? I’m not sure I can do it justice. The town is like a Christmas light display but for summer. And as you walk in it is like something out of a Tim Burton movie. Alice in Wonderland meets Willy Wonka. Madness. The menu is pretty expensive, but the food was great. I do look a tad weird as a lone diner here, but who cares. Not sure I’d come back, maybe if I was in a couple, but pleased to have been to see it.

What a busy two days. So pleased I’ve been here for a few days to experience all these wonders.

So my final day, and I decide to go on a walking tour to see the Graffiti of the city. At breakfast there is a lovely Dutch couple who are doing the tour in the morning, I’m going to relax first then head out. They are really exploring Columbia and seeing much more than just Bogota. I’ve never heard of the laces they mention, but how great to meet fellow travellers once more.

Today I am being brave, no guide or taxi driver. Just a map and directions. Well that was a mistake. I got so very lost! Wandering the streets of Bogota all on my own, probably not the best idea.  There are a lot of guards, police and their dogs all around the streets, so I felt safe, and asked police and security along the way to show me on the map where I was, and about two hours later, in the rain, arrived at my destination. All part of the adventure.

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The tour starts in parque de Los Periodistas, which if it was a sunny day I may sit in and admire, but I’m early and its pissing down so I head into a small little pizza place to get warm and dry but it really was quite lovely. Funny how random places end up being a real treat.

The Graffiti tour is amazing, a must do. We start with the political paintings where if you look closely you see pineapples that are actually grenades, (because they ruin the soil but are profitable), war flies, cocktails with guns painted in as the cocktail sticks. Paintings showing the oppression of rich on the poor. We learn about the gorilla rebels being killed for cash and locals being kidnapped and dressed like gorilla rebels so the soldiers can get this cash easily. 10,000 missing people over 10 years!

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Some of the artists go all over the world and are apparently famous in the art world. DJ Lu, aPC sting fish. They have their own tag/signature on their art work and no one ‘tags’ over them as they respect each other too much. We walk down the road a bit and move on to the more picturesque and happy pictures. Awesome pictures, animals, people, patterns. There are recycled green statues above the streets. 3D masks painted and stuck around the city. It makes you see Graffiti in a different light I must say.

 

My last purchase is a scrap book from a shop where they bind books n the old fashioned way still. I create a scrap book for all my travels so this is a cool place to buy one to use. It has that old fashioned book shop smell and is a pretty organised, although looking untidy workplace of books, paper and machines.

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Well, thats it. Pretty much all over, a month of awesomeness that I am not sure can ever be beaten. I finish my holiday with a cup of Chai in a café overlooking a parque, although if you can tell me what name is on my cup you are a better person than me!

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Remember the first cup I had, when I got my hot and cold muddled up in El Dorado Airport, Bogota!? Well what a way to finish, Monserrate in the distance, the locals milling around, the sun has even started shining for a short time.

Thank you Columbia for being a hidden gem of a place. England here we come, I am ready to go home as amazing as this has all been, and to see my beloved doggie zaccy….walkies!!

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The tricks to get on Olympic TV, Christ the Reedemer and Team GB racking up the medals!

A free morning beckons. I had asked the girls if we could all do Christ the Reedemer together today (seeing as we have come to Rio as a group?) but they went yesterday. Michelle had checked the weather forecast and it was good so off they went. Pictures looked lovely, and just as well they went yesterday as when I woke up today ready to head off it was bloody raining. Can you believe it, all the way to Rio and it’s like being in the UK! So I roll over and go back to sleep for a few hours (much needed as well). I mean it’s not like I can go to the beach and enjoy Copacabana for the day.I have Archery tickets for later but have been offered diving at a reduced cost from the lads I met at the tennis and not sure I fancy Archery in the rain.

So after my late wake up, the girls are still asleep or maybe out, who knows. I decide that I’ll give Archery a miss in the rain and go for the diving instead. Love a bit of diving and as in the papers there has been talk about the green water the divers have to dive into I feel I’d like to see it, didn’t look that green yesterday? I leave the archery tickets on the side in the apartment for the girls, leave them a message and head off. First a relaxing morning walking along the sea front taking in the sights and scenes. The rain has stopped but the grey clouds are looming, and there isn’t the busy bustling feel that you normally get down here. A few traders out but not many, enough for me to add to my bracelet collection and get a Rio green and yellow band. A few tourists about but not hoards so quite easy to get pictures at the Olympic signs. There are quite a few beach artists working along the beach, they really are quite talented and the heavy downpour can’t of helped keep their work in tact.


The Olympic Rings are down the beach volleyball end (we got a nighttime picture when out for dinner a few days ago) and are also down the TV broadcasting end as well which is where I have headed this morning. It’s such a shame that the locals don’t respect them. This one has a large chunk missing from one of the rings, in London, anything Olympic we were so proud of. 


On the seafront there’s orange Boris bikes, the trend has taken off. Lots of people are out exercising on the bike lanes. Runners, cyclists, a few skateboarders even in the rain, nice weather for it really, cooling! Other than that, nothing more to see. Russia has their ‘house’ at one end. Each country has their own ‘house’ where corporates are invited and Team GB athletes also can socialise. I haven’t managed to find the GB one but I have heard that they are quite posh and not for every day Jo Public. One of the nutty girls who are staying in the apartment as friends of Anamaria, had been invited to the Italian one, and she is one of those girls who looks stunning even when she’s just woken up. She felt it was a rather stuck up and posh event so I’m not sure I’d fit in. I haven’t said much about the girls but it’s worth explaining. They are Brazilian I believe (maybe Portuguese?), very attractive with their flowing dark hair, model figures, quite J Lo esk, dark skin and perfect smiles. One is anamaria’s friend and the other is a friend of the friend. I think they had my room before we came to stay as there’s a random pink bra in the room. Now they sleep on the floor or in the box room depending on their mood but their suitcases are in the lounge and they just get changed in there in front of us mid conversation. The friend of a friend was chatting to me, I turned to answer her question and she had her boobs out. I mean they were very nice boobs, no tan lines or anything but how very odd! Hey ho. Nice girls though. 

Anyhow I’m chilling on the beach and head for some lunch at a nice Brazilian Route 66! Free wifi, Olympics on TV and out of the drizzle. And a very relaxed and enjoyable lunch it was. First time I’ve had a proper lunch since I have been here. You just spend all your time heading from venue to venue and therefore eating whatever you can grab. Namely the local snacks sold on the trains.


The girls are awake back at the apartment, and going to archery so we may catch up later. Now trying to meet the boys with the diving ticket may prove difficult. All the #superfans I have met up with have data allowance on their phones or bought a cheap local phone. My 3 network barely works here some days and unless I want to pay £6 MB there is no bolt on package I can buy so without wifi I’m a tad screwed. We have a group what’s app which would be ideal ordinarily! Anyhow I have to resort to the old texting at 35p a go when not on wifi. As I didn’t want to be late to meet the boys I leave with plenty of time even though I’m freezing and feeling the need to head quickly to the apartment for a jumper or jeans? And as Sod’s law works I’m early and they are late so I could of popped home! But we meet and I lead them to the diving seeing as I know where it is having got lost yesterday. And true to form, we don’t bother sitting in our seats but gradually move along as close to the diving boards as possible and get front row seats right by the camera again. 

It’s not Tom Daley but the 3m synchronised men’s Jack Laugher and Chris Mears. But it’s Olympic Diving, no idea if they are medal hopes but great to support them and see the green pool, and it is green. 


The weather is rubbish (might help the Brits, although when do you ever dive outside in the wind and rain), very windy, raining quite heavily at times. We are covered by the partial roof so we are ok. 

And so it begins. We notice another British group up the stands a bit with Union Jack bunting. That’s pretty organised bringing that. A random English bloke also wanders out of his actual seat and sits with us. We are like moths to a flame for single British travellers. He has a flag so all is good. The GB boys start well and continue to do well. It’s very encapsulating watching. The boys with me keep getting messages saying we are on TV again, how funny!! We are very enthusiastic and overly wave the flags, and I have my Union Jack blow up hand I clap and cheer with, with every intention of catching the cameramans eye to be fair, so it’s good to know its worked!!


The poor Brazilians have an awful dive, one completely out of sync but we all clap them. I think they get the biggest cheer of night (unsurprisingly as they are the home team, but everyone gets behind them), and it comes down to the last dive. 


We spot Tom Daley cheering the team on with the rest of the team GB athletes. An American is sat next to me, very chatty. He doesn’t know much about diving either but enjoys watching it too. The Americans last dive is amazing, almost perfect. Puts them in Gold medal position with two to go. Then it’s GB. An awesome dive too, we are all staring at the big screen hoping for a big score and it comes!! Pipped the Americans. Now down to the Chinese and we know they are awesome. They have a good dive but one slightly over rotates, again we are all watching the screens and cheer when they come third. Whoop whoop, gold for GB, and USA silver for my American mate to cheer.


What an awesome event. We go on the move once more for the medal ceremony and head behind the flag poles, and sing the national anthem with all our heart!!

I’ve come to the realisation the three lads I met are gay, as firstly they are very effeminate and secondly they were very enthralled by the Americans taking their tops off when being interviewed. One even said ‘I videoed the fuck out of that’. Ha ha, love it. Lucky none of the girls in our #superfans group were interested. 

That was quite an event and I’m not ready to finish the day yet so have set my sights on getting swimming tickets so I can see the Olympic pool and Michael Phelps. However I am bloody freezing, it’s raining and swimming starts in four hours!

Hey ho, I persevere and my luck is in. I end up chatting to a ticket tout from Norfolk and he sells me an under face value ticket. In return, without realising it, I help him sell to others by standing around chatting as I look less dodgy than him with my GB flag wrapped around me. I get his number for future tickets then head off to buy a jumper as I’m just too bloody cold. Rio 2016 one it is, and only £30 so not bad at all. I’ve commented before that the food is awful in the parks. I am in need of something so tried the Pizza for a change, oh dear me. It looked like the size of the pizza in back to the future when it was put in the microwave to be enlarged! Tiny bloody thing! 


Off to swimming and in my coldness and with a lack of any British groups to be seen I do actually stay in my seat for once, cheekiness is missing this evening. (I’ve since found out it I had gone for a wander I could of met Rebecca Adlington, Mark Foster and the Blue Peter girl I forget the name off). GB had a few swimmers, won a bronze, Phelps won his medley Gold, it’s a great atmosphere although cold for a swimming pool as its covered but only by material all around so the draft comes in, and I headed off before the last race so I could get home on the metro. It shuts for our safety at 2am and as swimming starts at 11pm! 


It’s now 12.45. I get in at 2am having first walked the wrong way down the road coming out the metro, past some dodgy streets, homeless people and in general not feeling the safest. Realised my mistake after 5 mins! 

When I’m home there is something not quite right with Brazilians and Anamaria. She is pissed as a newt (two bottles of wine apparently) they are arguing, she tells the friend of a friend not to show her lying, ugly little face to her again???? The other one looks awful for the first time. No make up on, looks sad and jaded. There’s a random Chilean guy who come over the other day still here and Anamaria is asking him to stay. It’s all very uncomfortable. The Brazilians look like they are packing up so from the looks of it they are being kicked out at 2am. I dive into my bedroom to get away from it all. 

Thursday and I actually have no tickets at all for today. The girls have water polo and are up and out before I get up. The sun is shining so I am off to Christ the Reedemer. The Brazilians cases are gone so they must of left, Anamaria is awake and seems rather depressed so I just chat along as normal and try and make jokes? 

I need a new selfie stick seeing as mine is in a bin in The Deodoro Olympic Park! But can you find a street seller when you need one? Nope. So I head off without one. It’s about £35 to get the train up and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey. I think I spotted the Nutty Professor or maybe Albert Einsteins great great great grandson on the platform?



It’s a very steep journey up, and even on the mountain theirs a lad selling drinks. At the top it is utter madness. Filled with tourists all wanting that money shot. There are mats you can lay on to get the photo with you and CTR in. I ask an American who is already laying down to do my photo for me, she a very cool about it all bless her. Get an official picture taken as you get to hold the Olympic torch as well so that was an added bonus, and borrowed a ladies selfie stick for a few pics. All good! 



There is a restaurant up the top but it’s not got the views of Sugar Loaf. In my opinion Sugar Loaf is better. The view from up here is good, the lake with the rowing is below and that’s pretty cool. The view over the city, the mountains and Sugar Loaf is all great just not as lovely at at Sugar Loaf. But it’s CTR and that’s an iconic photo in itself.


So I don’t spend long up top, back down and decide to head to the park and try and get a cycling ticket. To save some cash I head back on the public bus. Good to try out all the public transport. 

Karen (volunteer with no role) is going cycling and has tennis tickets too so will meet me. Bless her though, she was so worried I wouldn’t get in she waited outside the park and didn’t use her tennis ticket so I could get in. In my subtle Union Jack cape I found a man selling a spare cycling ticket. He was off to handball which Brazil where in a semi final and just wanted to get some money for the cycling ticket, and it was a top band one. I only had 340BR as I was hoping for a cheap ticket and his was 580BS but he took what I had and ran. Result. The seat was front row on the bend and Karen just came and sat with me. 


We spotted Sharon Davies watching and headed over for a selfie and chat. She’s quite chatty, asked about the travelling and she found it so bad she just stays at the Olympic park all day now.


What an awesome event. Gold for team GB men’s team sprint, Bronze for Chris Froome and we were on TV apparently every time that medal was shown and I just had a great time. Go GB #bringonthegreat. We also hear Mat Whitlock got a bronze in gym as well, the other event I was interested in. It’s now called #welcomewednesday as team GB have started to rack up the medals.


So out of the velodrome we headed and the #superfans lads are by Clare Balding. We get asked to stand behind her for the live TV coverage, and again get on TV. The funniest thing is, the table she would normally present from is replace by a shopping trolley with her iPad and notes on, the camera and everything she needs. Quite a sight! What a mad day this is turning out to be. She is very lovely and chats to us all. The lads tell her they have kissed Catherine Granger and this gets put into a live link. Chris Hoy then joins in the interview and at the end we get some selfies, although Clare is in a rush and when the lads ask her if she could take the selfie as it would look better she tells them to piss off, in a jovial manner. #legend.


Time for the journey home, and hoping to catch up with my other mates who are staying in Rio and lending me the use of their apartment for the weekend so I don’t have to pay £150 for the unclean, drainage issue, manic, mid decorating apartment I am currently staying in. However they are in British House getting pissed so Karen and I have a meal (again first today) before heading home. 

Two days, three TV appearances, four sports, not a lot of sleep and I’m starting to get addicted to this getting on the TV game. #wheressam as its now called on Facebook. When I get in I finally see Michelle and Lindz, and just keep getting Facebook notifications (63 today) about my TV appearances. 

They managed Archery yesterday and loved it, although it was cold. And water polo this morning was good. It’s very weird hardly seeing them but we all seem to be having a great time! Love the Olympics. Think I need to stay saving for Tokyo 2020!

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Leaving the village for the big smoke!

The mundane routine I expected every day was blown away on my last couple of days. We had goats in the classroom, my flip flops mode from outside the classroom I a house in he village, a thunderstorm that lasted most of the day, a bike ride on the most rickety uncomfortable bikes on the dustiest and stoniest roads into town with two girls as passengers perched on the back. This was the source of much laughter with and at us westerners!! I found it so hard the first time I just said I’d run to the village, good triathlon training! The storm started when we were on our way in to the village, the lightening was amazing, right across the horizon! Panicked ourselves thinking we’d get struck by lightening with the bikes! Although my mum later reminded me the rubber tyres would of saved us!
The schools being on holidays meant there’s no homework to help with so we planned various activities instead. And I’ve really settled in to this quiet, simple life just as I’m about to leave. Always the way. Saying goodbye to the village kids was hard, they genuinely seemed sad I was leaving. Maybe all my different resources were fun for them?
As a goodbye from me to the orphans I made banana fritters for the orphans and many girls helped me. First time I’d ever made them so learning curve indeed!! I bought as donated some clothes for them that mummy handed out. My t shirts that I have worn in three continents have now gone to new homes. And we had fizzy drinks with dal baht for dinner. Fun last day indeed including another bike ride into town with girls sitting on the back. I mastered it this time and we were much quicker.
Aussie boy has become a hermit. Doesn’t really help unless you mother him and tell him what to do, often skulks off into his room! Although has now been very ill over night twice in a week which must be horrid. Doesn’t interact with kids much so may have a long few weeks. Aussie girl and I have bonded over his lack of use of Aussie boy. Had a fun last few ways with my roomy.
Mummy of the home returned as well in my last few days so normality returned for routines though.
My journey home was with three of the orphans who are off to the capital for a bit of a holiday, so a 5.45am get up, taxi awaiting us. I held back the tears, the dog was whining as I said goodbye which nearly set me off crying! I’d said goodbye to most girls the night before, gave two of the youngsters a book from England to read and practice their english. Although Noah’s ark retrospectively maybe not the best choice for a Hindu country! Girls very thankful for them and I wrote a message in them so they remember who gave them to them.
So as we drive away through villages turning into towns, motor vehicles once more dominating the roads, dogs sleeping it watching the world go by, rubbish burning by the roadside (this is their waste disposal system), people washing the road in front of the house to stop the dust, music from wave the flag, we are sailing to Nepalese heavy metal playing, hoping my stomach is being toned up by the make shift ‘tenns’ machine that is the cars/minibuses driving over the bumps, and the sun shining bright my mind wanders over this amazing experience! It’s not what I planned to do, I was annoyed that it wasn’t when I arrived but now I’m so pleased I have had this experience.
The nepalease have some horrid habits, spitting, blowing their nose by blowing it out on the ground, they beat their dogs, many talk at too loudly and you can tell the wealthy from the poor by their waist line. However they work bloody hard, they live with very little such as no guarantee of electricity or running water. They live off the land, they play outside, they are very friendly and welcome you warmly. Nothing is broken, it all just needs some TLC. Mode of transport is usually push bike and having been on one they are tough machines to work especially on the dusty roads and with a passenger seated on the back. Horns are not used in anger but merely to let others know you are there for their safety. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this part of my Nepalese adventure! I’ll miss the serenity of he village, the sunrise and sunset, the birds singing, the noticeably quiet airspace and roads, the kids (baby goats that is) trotting and leaping by the roads, the children and their smiley faces, village kids desperate for your attention, everyone speaking to you as the only whites in the village, but I don’t think I’ll miss the dal baht, as stable a diet it is, I’m looking forward even if only briefly before the trek, to some western food, a toilet with a seat and a warm shower!
We arrive in Kathmandu having taken a local mini bus full of locals, then dropped off on the roadside. Straight away taxi men desperate for my custom and chatting the girls up!
Our taxi came and they went to the host house for two of them it was their first time in the capital, how exciting.
I went off to my posh hotel. I arrive and it is luxury. Comfy bed, a hot shower was delightful, a normal toilet, a pool too!!
My next adventure begins now!!

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