A Weekend at a Finca: Week 234

The patio of Finca La Cristalina in Santagueda, Colombia

In Colombia it is very popular to rent a finca for the weekend, especially around the warm coffee-growing regions of Caldas. Fincas are country houses, often with pools, that are rented out to large groups of people.

There are several agencies in Manizales that deal specifically with finca listings and one of the most important things to consider is the capacity of the venue. It is much more common to rent the entire finca than it is to rent a single room- so you want to find the right place for the right number of people.

Santagueda is a popular destination for sun-seekers in Manizales. Although it is only an hour west, the lower elevation makes for a huge temperature difference. The drive down through the green valleys and moss-covered trees is beautiful. In the center of town we stopped at a supermarket to load up on ice and alcohol.

Since our finca had a pool, we were planning on lounging around it all weekend. While fincas are fully furnished, it is important to bring your own soap, dish washing implements, and extra toilet paper. And even if you did want to pay someone else to cook, you might still have to supply the food- so always bring enough food.

A motorcycle vendor selling ice cream at Finca La Cristalina: Santagueda, Colombia

Although, if you didn’t stock up on enough dessert, in Santagueda there are men on motorcycles that drive onto the fincas with ice cream-filled styrofoam boxes. My favorite flavor was the cheese and bocadillo.

Fincas are also very popular for family reunions and other special events. And if there is anything I have learned about these kind of events, it’s that loud music is very popular and there really isn’t a noise complaint culture. In fact, the name for a wake-up call at sunrise that involves a lot of noise is an alborada. My guess is that is also involves an early start for drinking.

So unless you are somewhere isolated or on a working finca (aka a farm), you might be close enough to your neighbors to hear their music blasting all day and night. We didn’t have loud music playing at our place, but the neighbor did. Despite blasting songs all night, I managed to sleep soundly till about 7am.

A tiny turtle found on the grounds of Finca La Cristalina: Santagueda, Colombia

Normally this would make me grumpy, but early morning in Santagueda was beautiful. I’ve heard so much about the bird variety in Colombia, but I hadn’t experienced any of it until I sat on the porch in the early morning. I put my legs up and watched the colorful birds swoop through the massive yard for a good hour or two. I even saw a tiny little turtle crawling through the stalks of grass.

One by one the others began to wake up around 9am. Massive skillets were pulled out of the kitchen and the beers started to crack open. Eggs and the hair of the dog was up for breakfast. I was really looking forward to a lazy afternoon- renting the whole place meant we only had to leave by 5pm. It was time to unwind from the unwinding and to continue enjoying the warm weather.

About: Finca listings in Santagueda

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Perth & The Giants: Week 205

The Giants - Little Girl on a boat: Perth, Australia

Hey!” An older woman called out on my right. “Don’t push me!”

“I’m TRYING to walk!” A grumpy old man yelled back. Beads of perspiration dotted his bald scalp.

“So is everyone else.” The woman replied. “That doesn’t mean you have the right to push.”

“Aw, shut up you old cow.” 

The woman laughed, incredulously. The old man continued pushing through crowded Barrack Street and into a father with a newborn baby in his arms, then he stepped on a kid’s foot.

Don’t you trample my son!”

“Aw, shut up.” The old man yelled over his shoulder.

“Just because my son is little doesn’t mean he deserves to be pushed around and stepped on. Get some manners.”

The Giants - Diver: Perth, Australia

Barret and I had come to Perth over Valentine’s weekend to see The Giants- two massive marionettes that walked the streets of Perth thanks to a French troupe called Royal de Luxe. The production was the highest-attended public artwork ever in Perth and it was the showpiece of the Perth International Arts Festival. Hundreds of thousands of people poured into the downtown area and at times it felt like the festival was suffering from its own popularity.

The Giants - Diver taking a drink of water: Perth, Australia

However, The Giants did not disappoint. From their costumes and props to their eerily human gestures- it was magical to watch. They stopped at intervals along their routes to do things like remove rain jackets, jump on cars for a ride, or take a cool sip of water. The diver had a glass plate on his helmet removed so he could quench his thirst with the help of a vintage fire engine.

Salvation Army Building: Perth, Australia

When the massive crowd became too much to handle, Barret and I headed back to a loft we found on AirBnB. It was inside an old Salvation Army building in the heart of Perth’s CBD. We took a shower, changed into our evening clothes, and wandered over to William Street in Northbridge.

Polaroid of Chinese shop window in Northbridge: Perth, Australia

The neighborhood is packed with good restaurants and nightlife. It’s such a diverse area that within a few blocks we went from a back alley Kung Fu studio in Chinatown to a South African restaurant named Baby Mammoth which serves curry just the way my mom makes it- sliced bananas on top. Breakfast at a paleo cafe and a nightcap at the hidden Ezra Pound. Our Vegas IDs always get a comment.

Polaroid of Perth architecture: Curtin House

Because the local university is also on William Street, we found a popular and affordable late night café. The Moon was filled with students and an instrumental quartet led by a micro-managing Peruvian. The music was pleasant, restrained, and unfortunately not loud enough to drown out the conversation behind us. “I like ketchup on everything.” Same person: “I don’t get it. How can you name a song with no lyrics?”

Barret and I shared a pizza, two glasses of the finest boxed wine, and settled into one of the many overstuffed couches. Around one in the morning we plucked ourselves out of our comfortable seats and went outside to hail an  airport taxi. We had a redeye flight to Sydney and a full day at work ahead of us.

Polaroid of black cockatoo street art: Perth, Australia

I had been feeling quite ambitious when I booked this trip. Barret and I packed a lot of walking and not a lot of sleep into two full days- but you know what? It was worth it. The Giants were stunning and the city did not disappoint. My only regret is that I did not have more time to spend in Perth.

The Giants: Perth, Australia

About: Perth International Arts Festival

About: The Giants

The-Giants-Hanging-Girl

How to get to Baby Mammoth: 2/305 William Street, Northbridge WA 6003

How to get to The Moon: 2/323 William Street, Northbridge WA 6003

How to get to Ezra Pound: 189 William Street, William Lane, Northbridge WA 6000

Glebe Town Hall: Week 204

Phia performing at Glebe Town Hall for High Tea: Sydney, Australia

For most people high tea is a sugar-filled, decadent afternoon treat. For Sydneysiders in the know, High Tea is also an invite-only folk music event that happens twice a month.

The musical headquarters is located inside a small loft in Surry Hills. The street-level entrance leads people through a graffiti-covered passage, up a few flights, and out onto a walkway that is curiously squeezed between two buildings. It’s a bit of an urban rabbit warren.

Because the venue is so intimate, it’s not always easy to get tickets. You have to follow the High Tea Crew Twitter account so you know exactly when the event list has opened. The event fee is payable at the door and, as always, a table covered with tea cups and hot kettles awaits guests at the entrance.

High Tea at Glebe Town Hall: Sydney, Australia

If the tea fails to excite, there is no charge to bring in your own bottle of wine. There aren’t a lot of chairs but there are plenty of cushions around the room. The lights are low, the candles drip, and the large art deco windows front a twinkling nighttime city landscape.

The only difference this time around was that for the season opener, High Tea was being held at Glebe Town Hall. This historic venue was built in 1880 and the main hall fits up to 200 hundred people, which is a lot larger than the loft in Surry Hills. Although the Town Hall lacked the quirky layout of the usual venue, the table of tea was still there and I suspect the program organizers spent a lot of time tracking down more cushions.

Glebe Town Hall: Sydney, Australia

High Tea kicked off with Phia- an Australian/German loop pedal and kalimba playing songstress. She was classically trained on the piano and is the first to admit her parents weren’t too happy when she first ditched all that training for the kalimba. Her boyfriend is the only other member of the band and is probably the most timid musician I have ever seen on stage. He looks a bit like a lost puppy- which I mean in the nicest way possible. It was the second time I’d seen them perform and I liked them even more than the last time.

The Maple Trail closed the program and as it got close to the end of their set, I lay down, closed my eyes, and listened to the music. The group sounded a lot like The Wallflowers and it reminded me about my childhood in Florida and the excitement of owning my first few CDs (which obviously included The Wallflowers).

While I’m guilty of enjoying a bit of nostalgia, I’m lucky enough to be simultaneously happy about the past and the present. And where I am- inside the Glebe Town Hall with friends and tea and wine and music- is pretty darn good.

About: High Tea

How to get to the Glebe Town Hall: 160 St Johns Road, Glebe NSW 2037

About: Phia

About: The Maple Trail

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