Colombia

Quick Summary

Time in Colombia: Oct 19 - Dec 12, 2009

Route: from Bogota by bus to Cartagena via San Gil, Mompox and other colonial towns. Picked up Tianma and cruised back and forth along the Caribbean coast. Then slowly south through Medellin and the Zona Cafetera before zooming through the south to Ecuador.

Food: Fantastic fresh fruits and juices! Pretty good food variety in big cities, no choice at all in smaller places (just cheap “menu del dia”). Too many fruits, too few veggies. Everything too sweet. Great seafood and coconut rice on the coast, excellent trout and occasionally good ribs inland. All else was beef and bananas - decent.

People: loved them as much as they love life... met a whole slew of unique and memorable characters... generally fun-loving, welcoming, talkative, curious, proud of Colombia, open, clean and extremely loud 

Roads: bad roads and worse drivers gave Tianma a real challenge; too many curves, mountains, potholes and construction work; even more trucks and buses driving poorly and passing uphill on curves in single lanes; frequent army checkpoints; expensive gas and tolls; only bright spot is beautiful scenery along the road

Highlights: exotic fruits we’d never seen before, the many characters we befriended, the “Crepes & Waffles” chain, thermal baths, waterfalls, Valle de Cocora, traveling with Ana and Dinko, couchsurfing with Tim in Aracataca, Mompox boat ride, “minutos” vendors, the Colombian spirit

Low-lights: driving in and out of Cartagena, overdosing on grilled beef, mosquitoes on the coast, local music

Impression: widely varied natural beauty; a surprisingly modern and developed country (the most we’d seen in the continent to date); seems to have a solid middle class and domestic tourism that is lacking elsewhere; clean and safe; a shame about their ongoing drug and violence problems but it is now perfectly safe for tourists (and the people love foreigners) so we highly recommend it

Not in our initial plans, we decided to visit this land with an unfortunate reputation after meeting many travelers that had explored the continent and gave Colombia rave reviews.  Nearly overstayed our 60-day visas because we had a blast criss-crossing the country. Couldn’t recommend it more!

Lots more pictures from Colombia coming soon