All posts filed under: Travel

The Horticultural Diaries of Che Coles Part 1: Santiago and the the glacier climb

  Two hours to Madrid, fourteen to Santiago. Thirty degree heat and a pisco sour, I find myself in Chile and about to embark on an epic journey south. Hills rise from the streets. A haze of smog below the Andes. Shade seekers somber the leafy plazas drinking cups of Mote. Welcome to Santiago! Staying in the Bellas Artes area of Santiago I was in walking distance of two noteworthy green spaces. One was Cerro Santa Lucia, who’s garden climbs upto panoramas of the city. The other Parque Forestal, whose shady trees shadow the crowds below.   After a few lazy days in the parks and hills in the down town city, a sudden opportunity had occurred to join a small group of men to climb upto Glacier a la paloma at 2700 MASL north west of Santiago.  Of course I jumped at the chance! With a few extra items of trekking gear purchased, I find myself ascending the andes, acclimatising to the altitude slowly.   Intense sun and brisk breeze. Swathes of shrubby Fabiana imbricata …

El Brujo de Trinidad, Cuba

Across  the railway by the cemetery were the directions I received from the Brujo. That was where he sold most of his plants. Pushed in his wheelbarrow through the cobbled streets of Trinidad, Cuba was his mobile market offering his latest rosemary, basil and guava plants. Wandering off the tourist radar, as per norm, I encountered the Brujo whilst on the search for Ron Mulata (a rum brand) served in a plastic bottle and not glass. Being fairly confident with my Spanish now, I struck up a conversation with him, spoke about plants and arranged to meet him on the Monday and partake in his birthday celebrations. Now the Brujo is a wizard. Well, a plant wizard. Many people come to him to buy herbal remedies. and if he hasn’t got it, he will get it for you. Many Cubans rely on natural medicine as most processed medication is too expensive to buy or unable to get hold of due to the embargo. The nursery site contained a large growing area. The soil rather red. Rows of …

Machete and rum.

Rum. Cigars. Salsa. These are three of the main words people associate with the country Cuba. I like to indulge in all three but as a whole, Cuba is so much more. It and its people have so much more to give. I dare you to venture out of Havana or the beach resorts of Varadero or Guardalavaca in the South. Beyond the five star resort strip of sand lies plenty of adventure, adrenaline and activity. For me I’m no beach bum. I like to touch, speak and feel Cuba from all angles. This is my second time visiting this archipelago in the Caribbean and every time I think I’ve sussed it out comes another surprise. Cuba, since the US embargo has learnt to do things differently. Resources are hard to come by. Medicines are expensive. Everyone has learnt to mend and make do. It’s also kept out the big pharmaceutical companies and those dreaded chemicals and gmos. The result is organic, fresh fruit and vegetables, thriving bees and a large natural medicine market. I …