November 17-18, 2007
I went with Manisha and a friend of hers to the soccer stadium, but there was no game today despite what we had been told. Instead, we played a bit of basketball on the courts outside the stadium. Nobody wanted to play against us because Manisha (six feet tall) and I (six-foot-three) looked like giants to the South American crowd, but considering that I averaged maybe half an hour of basketball per year, their fears were unwarranted. And sure enough, we got our asses handed to us within five minutes of playing against another trio and had to resort to a game of PIG amongst ourselves for the rest of the morning.
It was especially hard to get around the city this weekend, and eventually I figured out that all the main streets were blocked off because the marathon was in town. Manizales sits at 2100 meters above sea level, which isn't very high by South American standards, but that's still over one-and-a-quarter miles high, quite impressive for long distance running. We went over to the finish line and watched as the exhausted runners achieved their goals. I guess I shouldn't have been quite as surprised as I was when I found out that a Kenyan one the race. Yeah, the Kenyans are also the best runners in Colombia, not just the USA.
After the marathon, we also went to the same park where we had watched the symphony the night before. It was on a hill overlooking the city, making it a great location for a relaxing nap. I was asleep too long, though, and woke up with the worst sunburn I'd suffered on my trip. Even after two years of traveling, it was hard to remember that despite the cool temperatures, I was only a few degrees from the equator, and the sun was much more powerful than at home.
Behind the park was a wilderness area that looked just like a kid's version of some of the jungle expeditions I had done. There were great paths, zip lines for adventurous people who wanted to fly over the canopy, and lots of information on the various flora in the area. We also learned firsthand that the area provided some protection for society's lower segments when we saw several security guards and police officers running after a kid who had stolen someone's digital camera. Eventually he got caught and led away in handcuffs, but I was told that his only punishment would be a few days in jail. The police would probably be doing him a favor considering his normal living conditions.