Why Colombia is Amazing
There is something undeniably special about Colombia.
Anyone who’s travelled in South America, who’s spent time in Colombia –will agree. It feels like a secret as juicy as the incredible selection of fruits found in an average Colombian market. A secret for the select few who were brave (or adventurous) enough to ignore her bad reputation and tumultuous history and fly in for a visit.
It’s difficult to put into words exactly what it is that makes this country so amazing. Though I’ll certainly try 🙂
Maybe its the stunning landscape. The idyllic Colombian countryside–smiling men in cowboy hats, circa 1950s cars, whitewashed homes with orange tile roofs. Or maybe it’s the charming coffee region with lush vegetation, impossibly tall wax palm trees swaying in the breeze. Or the steamy hot Caribbean coast and it’s epic beaches, sun filled days and rum soaked nights. And for a change of pace– the wild, no man’s land of the Guajira Peninsula–harsh desert landscape with little inhabitants but prickly cactuses and the mysterious Waayu people with their goats and “candy bandits” offspring.
Maybe it’s the surprisingly developed and livable cities. Cali with it’s steamy salsa filled night life. The Beautiful Medellin and its cinema-worthy history–the modern day red brick buildings, cable cars, and convenient metro system. Crisp Bogota with it’s top notch cafes, bars, restaurants and progressive attitude (for example–every Sunday a major street is blocked for biking and walking).
Maybe it’s the endless activities and sites. The storybook jungle of Tayrona park, wild beaches and wilder chiva buses (party buses with all you can drink rum, live music and an MC), cheap open water scuba certification of the north. The coffee tours, national parks, and lovely villages of the Zona Cafetera. The paragliding/whitewater rafting/caving/canyoning/mountain biking/kayaking/adventure sports paradise of San Gil and the Santander region. The seemingly endless options constantly unfolding the deeper you allow yourself to delve. The easily accessible public transportation–buses, boats, colectivos, taxis, mototaxis, reasonable plane tickets–that make reaching nearly any corner an option as long as you’ve got time and patience, and an adventurous spirit.
Very likely it’s the people. Many of whom are the most beautiful, the most kind, the most relentless, or the most fun-loving people I’ve ever encountered. The kindness of the couple in Cali, who, concerned about our safety, went out of their way to walk us to their favorite lunch place, introduce us to the owner, who then herself joined us for a meal. The guy in Santa Marta who saw me studying Spanish and proceeded to sit down and give me a free lesson. The concerned police officer who escorted us to the market. The Colombian couple who shared their aguardiente (strong and popular anise-flavored liquor) at an outdoor concert in Santa Marta. The kind receptionists at the hostels in San Gil and Villa de Leyva who kept a caring eye on my while I battled with a nasty case of bronchitis.
Their constant patience with my terrible Spanish.
The people and their uncanny ability to make a party out of any occasion. Dance at any sign of music. Holidays every other weekend–fireworks, dancing, cervesas and live music for the smallest of occasions. The strong national pride and love of their country, despite its rough history and continuing issues. The fact that in every tourist destination you’ll find more Colombians than any other nationality. They know their country is special, they are proud of this and they definitely take advantage of it.
I could easily keep going…
I suppose as I face leaving in the next 7 days, I realize how truly lucky I was for the privilege of exploring this amazing place on a little deeper level (12 weeks!)
When I board my sailboat to Panama, I will undoubtably leave a little piece of “mi corazon” in Colombia.