Trip to Colombia - Dec 19 - Dec 31, 2018
Our trip to Colombia took me and my husband to Bogota, Salento, Cocora Valley, Tayrona National Park, and Cartagena. I think what was most striking to us was the multitude of landscapes that exist within the country - mountains, valleys, beaches, tropical forests - it was all very beautiful and steeped in a tradition of ceremony, sustainability, and conservation. We were also impressed with the knowledge of our guides and the variety of their subject matter expertise. One was a world-traveled artist (Camilo in Bogota) who was able to give us a deep, immersive lesson on the famous street graffiti, Botero, gold craftsmanship, along with a brief history on the origins and expansion of the city. Christian, an extroverted and boisterous botanist, was our guide in Salento and Cocora Valley. He knew everyone. And vice versa. We learned a lot about Willys, wax palms, coffee, and Tejo under his watch - he was an attentive guide, ensuring that we were well taken care of...and entertained! Jose was our trusty and tireless guide through the depths of the jungles of Tayrona National Park. He led us to Pueblito one day and the playas the next, providing a history of the pre-Colombus indigenous people and pointing out monkeys, caimans, and sacred rocks without breaking a sweat. In Cartagena, Rafa took us inside the minds of the engineers and architects, pointing out the strategy behind the construction of the fort and the wall. He also took us through the Old City neighborhoods, giving us a brief overview of of the plazas - and advice on where we should eat and shop. That said, our only negative experience was with the boat trip that was arranged in Cartagena. Our itinerary promised we'd be "treated to a boat around the Islas del Rosario...Aboard this boat you'll visit 3 beaches, in some top-secret locations that the day-tripper crowds have not heard about (nor are they likely to)." Instead, we were jammed onto a boat with 40 other people and taken to Bendita Beach about an hour away. The boats anchored off of the beach ensured that we sucked in gas fumes all day. Trying to redeem the day, we signed up for a snorkeling trip, which again was super crowded and the guides kept yelling at us to hurry up as we swam through the reefs. This was not a tour, nor was it 3 beaches, and it was anything but top-secret. We were very disappointed in the huge disparity between what was described and what we experienced and wonder how it happened and who benefitted off of our misfortune. We will never get that day back.