This picture doesn’t really give you an idea of how steep the streets are in Manizales. Think STEEP for several blocks in a row!

Manizales is a town of about 400,000-500,000 people nestled in the Andes. It has many streets which could rival San Francisco for their long steep inclines. I am not particularly comfortable with them but drivers don’t seem fazed, even though most vehicles are standard transmissions.

Walking uphill is a challenge but we just rest a lot. Downhill makes me nervous since I must be careful not to slip and fall.

There are a couple of cable cars that have been in use for many years now.

Lots of traffic but it seems to move along well. We were in a cab at what I would expect to be rush hour and we kept moving at a slow but steady pace across town.

And like many other cities in Colombia, beautiful holiday lights!

New Year’s Ceblebration

All of the little white papers on the street are remains of firecrackers.

Fireworks and firecrackers are a staple ALL all over the world for celebrations and Colombia is no exception. Not only are firecrackers widely used to celebrate, apparently so is gun powder. I am not an expert on the subject but we saw 3 banners in Jardin (one in Jardin said

no apague la luz de la vida- do not turn off the light of life) and one in Manizales urging people to be careful with gunpowder.

I found a PDF online that reported in 2011, 1101 people were burned by gunpowder of which 557 of those people were children.

Last night’s New Year’s Eve celebration on the street where we are staying was interesting. Early in the evening the firecrackers started (well in reality they have been happening off and on for days). After a while I went out on the balcony to see what was happening instead of just listening to it.

A few buildings down on the corner were about a half dozen or so young adults. They were lighting one firecracker after another and tossing them. They didn’t even wait for them to go off; they didn’t even look at them. It was almost an automatic thing that they were doing: light and toss, light and toss, over and over.

One person was less active in lighting and kept his fingers in his ears. But he remained there.

They were oblivious or ignored everything around them. Lighting and tossing even as police on motorcycles went by or as car alarms were activated by the percussion of the explosions.

And as I write, there was just a HUGE explosion somewhere not far away. Not the usual firecracker loudness. Then there was an altercation on the corner. Not sure if it was related or not but my guess would be that it was.

Despite what must have been lots of alcohol consumption since yesterday, this is the first altercation that I heard in the area.

I believe that the celebrating went on all night. It was certainly going on at 3 AM and when I first woke up at 7 this morning. Somehow I rested fairly well last night. Gracias a Dios. (Thank God.)