Two weeks of traveling in Colombia and I’m very much in love with this incredible country: the people I meet, the landscapes I see, the history, the weather, and of course the fellow travelers I spend time with. The complete set of photos is here, and the highlights below.
From cold, rainy Bogota I took a flight up to the Caribbean coastand spent a few days in the picturesque little fisherman’s town of Taganga. It’s unfortunately a little too picturesque for its own good and has been completely overrun by backpackers. I quickly made my leave and headed to the nearby Parque Tayrona, a national park with spectacular beaches and lush jungles. To get from the entrance to the beach is a good 1.5 hours of heavy trekking across jungle mountain ridges and beachfront. The reward is a series of beaches that get more and more spectacular as you get further away from civilization.
I stayed in Tayrona for four days (until I ran out of cash – no ATM in the jungle) and in that time I learned how to open and eat coconuts, climbed slippery boulders across gorges in the jungle to get to a lost Indian city, got bitten by a spider (no cool side effects unfortunately), lazed on the beach, got burnt and shed most of the skin on my back, saw monkeys (!) and generally relaxed completely.
The next stop was Cartagena, the main city of the Spaniards in the Americas. It’s a huge fortress city that has stayed pretty much completely intact, and it’s perfect for wandering around in for days on end. The houses are brightly painted, balconies sagging under the weight of all the plants, and the people are taking life really, really easy. I also learned the basics of salsa dancing which is something I hope to expand on during this trip.
Our last night in Tayrona we were sitting by a cafe when a Shakira song was cranked to max volume, and out of the cafe jumped a fat man with a blond wig, who proceeded to bust out an impressively accurate impersonation of the Shakira. Only video can do this justice:
“Waka Waka” is fast on its way to become the anthem of this trip, I hear it everywhere…
Going from Cartagena to Medellin is a 14-hour ride in a bus where the AC is set to “arctic”. I froze my balls off and it was horrible – lesson learned for the next bus ride! I need to find thermal underwear or something, good lord that was so cold.
So now I’m in Medellin and within ten minutes of arriving in the hostel I’d run into the first backpacker junkie with pupils for pins. Sad, really, but with cocaine going for 5 euros a gram here I can see how people get stuck here. I quickly left the hostel together with my awesome French travel partner Diane and set about exploring the city. The absolute highlight was when we walked into a block party and the locals invited us to join in on the festivities. Within minutes we were surrounded by a half dozen kids with a zillion questions. Diane speaks Spanish and was able to fend them off well, I took out my phrasebook and went to town. It was so much fun and we stayed for a long time playing with these great kids.
Tomorrow we’re off to El Penol, a giant monolith in the middle of a manmade lake. Later in the week I’ll be visiting the coffee region nearby, before heading for Ecuador. Will keep you posted!