“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley
I could sense the fear of my friends and family when I made mention that my next destination was going to be Colombia. Uncertainties, small talks, mumbling voices and probably one of the most asked questions; “Why Colombia…?” The answers are abundant in fact, so abundant that it was impossible to excavate all the gems for answers in the historical landline. And so, it happened one explosion after the other; the experience I had feeling nothing short of filthy rich.
Having already experienced almost all the other South American countries you could best bet that the once upon a time mob paradise was next on my growing agenda.
So this is my plan – I will go off the obvious and probably most predicted paths to find evidence that supports my clause of ‘Colombia, Why not?’… I will make this journey more bold, more personal and very real.
History is a big deal in Colombia and has had a great impact on the country over the years. Still pictures within their historical context jump to mind for many when the country is being mentioned. However, though the past is still very pivotal in the countries claim to fame; histories do die, like in present day Colombia.
You will hear the locals say it repeatedly.. “ 5-6 years ago we had no tourism; no one wanted to come here”, but that is rapidly changing; frequented by many travelers from all over the globe. Often times you will even see the locals showing their appreciation and shouting out “Viva Colombia!”
The country is evolving making it a safe place for travelers and for its people. It is really opening up itself like a petal on an exotic rose and what sits inside has a lasting and really special scent. With that being said, it is also one of the most dynamic countries in the Southern Hemisphere in terms of its landscape.
From warm beaches in the Caribbean sea, to its lush green rainforests, to cool, calm, collective temperatures in the coffee town. From its hot off- beat Tatacoa desert days located in the Huila region of the country to gloomy days in Bogotá… How could one ask, why Colombia?… Colombia, why not?
After exploring the country for a total of 10 days, really not enough for the size of the country my interest peaked in its unique features. It is quite affordable and easy to get around; something I highly depend on as a backpacker. Large bus stations with several bus companies are quite efficient so much so that even long trips (9-12hrs) have busses leaving by the hour. For shorter distances you will find buses departing every 10-15mins from the station on schedule. But, if you desire a quicker ride though on the more costly end, cabs are everywhere. My longest journey was from Salento to Bogotá, a 9 hour drive; a bus comfortable equipped with wifi connection. However, I do recommend some motion sickness strategies if you are likely to suffer from such as the roads can be a bit curvy.
Through the busy streets of down town Medellín, filled with vendors, musicians, participants of outdoor Catholic events, one of my favorites was to venture in and try some of their fried street foods and their popular 50 cent cup of lime juice sweetened with unindustrialised sugar canes.
Read, Research and Explore. Gone are the days where Colombia was what it use to be. Read about its present day lifetstyle, engage in their city tours to see where they were and what they have established now. The country is in a spiral it seems, one that with the blend of their rich cultural history and heritage will and is already on the must visit list.
Research what its means and feels to be Colombian, though I can tell you that nothing expresses itself on paper as it truly proves itself with the glare of daylight on your very own naked pupils.. No comparison and adjective can describe the life of a Colombian woman swaying her pride down the streets and whipping the tail end of her floral skirt as she rides the rhythmn of the afro Colombian drums.
Explore the contours that line this beautiful country. Sit, watch and listen to a street event as you bite into a Torta Negra. Truly dig deep into its fundamentals and understand the true meaning of what it feels like to say and hear, “Viva Colombia!”
The answer of ‘why Columbia?’ will come to you. I cannot tell you as well as she (Colombia) does, the answers to your questions awaits you there.