Published: December 27th 2010December 27th 2010
It is Christmas day and I realized it is the first one in all my years I have spent away from my family. I managed to make all my Christmas phone calls and speak to the majority of the lot, Mom, Dad, brother, Aunt, Uncle, Grandma and cousins... I could feel the holiday love from across the miles (Mom and Dad had even saved me a stocking for my return!). Those who are far away somehow feel a little it further during the holiday season and there are some particular individuals that feel millions of miles away I am missing this season. Despite the lack of familiar things, faces, and the ski hills of home Colombia has been a wonderful place for the holidays.
Colombians tend to make Christmas eve their big event and music, dancing and fireworks were going off into the night. We are in Taganga
at Casa Felipe a very social hostel that even boasts a Michelin Star chef.. gourmet meals for under 10 dollars needless to say we haven't been venturing far for dinner. There has been no shortage of people to meet and somehow friendships seem to form much more quickly when traveling out of
a backpack.. This is a backpacker town... a little too touristy for my usual liking but perfect for the holidays.
I woke up early his morning and walked down to the beach it was there I saw Louie a friend I met about a week ago when we first arrived in Taganga but had not seen since. Fresh squeezed orange and banana smoothies were our Christmas beverages of choice. We decided it would be wrong not to start the holiday with a cold beer so it was beer, peanuts and oreo cookies for breakfast.. different than the holiday tradition my Uncle started when we were children of making large letter ”J “ pancakes for me and “D” pancakes for my brother Dan that were piled high with strawberries and whip cream on Christmas morning.. breakfast is just a little bit different here. For dinner I had a veggie wrap while the friend to my left ate curry and the other to my right ate fillet mignon.. no turkey but the main thing was I had a nice group of people to share a meal with.
Allow me to digress and recap how I made it to Taganga and
our last 3 weeks of traveling through Colombia. We arrived in Popayan
for our first taste of Colombia. It is a beautiful Colonial city and we managed to hit it just right in time for a light festival in preparation for Christmas.. the square in the centre of town was full illuminated and flowing from all the churches and in every window and door way were candles, a truly gorgeous site. We enjoyed a couple of relaxing days strolling the town.. our only struggle was that every street and building looked exactly the same, and always white! Therefore we spent the majority of the day getting lost and then lost again but with no particular destination in mind it didn't pose much problem.
After Popayan we visited San Augustine
famous for is archaeological park and stone ruins and tombs. We stayed at Finca Nelly a lovely farm nestled up in the hillside. We arrived at the same time as Andrew a travel writer from Vancouver and spent the next two days exploring the ruins and mountains with him... we are anxiously awaiting to see if we will be featured in his next article. I decided to brave horses once
again and visit some of the archaeological sites, I found my horse this time around much less temperamental... I might even be tempted to say I enjoy horseback riding now. On our second day in San Augustine we opted for jeep tour. The tour ended up dragging on for 8 or 9 hours and at that point we were tomb and rocked out to say the least . I would recommend visitors opt for either the jeep or horses because bot was slightly overboard. With the tombs behind us we continued on the road.
We arrived in Bogota
City after a long (18+ hour) and quite eventful bus ride. About 2 hours into the journey we were stopped as the semi in front of us was having wheel problems. I was passed out in my seat but awoke abruptly to a man speaking of missiles and the CIA rather aggressively over Ali.. the most concerning part was his pants were somewhat falling down and I was prepared for the worst. We soon realized he had mental disorder and in reality was harmless. Under his jeans were pajama pants (the type little kids would wear). William was his name and
he spoke perfect English so people by default thought he was our father. Once we got over our initial shock we realized he was quite sweet, but just existing in his own world. He spoke on India and yoga gurus and I had the feeling he was quite well traveled. We spent the remainder of our bus ride with him - he had a habit of signing Beatles songs at full volume which commanded many stares. We said goodbye to our unexpected friend at the bus station and gracious refused his offer of meeting his Mother and staying at his families house. All Colombians have been extremely hospitable and helpful (William was no different than the rest) on more than one occasion when asking directions people escort us directly to wherever we need to go- one family even boarded a bus with us.
Bogotá is a city I had heard many mixed reviews on but I instantly fell in love with it from the beautiful graffiti art to its funky inhabitants it was a place I couldn't wait to throw myself into. We arrived Saturday night around 9 or 10 and my first intro to the city was the
reggae bar around the corner from our hostel.. reggae.. a great way to start things off. Bogota is well know for its party.. we took it fairly easy and more of less stuck to the reggae bar but new yellow dancing shoes were purchased so it was only right to venture to a local spot and attempt to salsa... not sure how well my skills measured up but it was fun all the same. The majority of our days we spent meandering and ducking in and out of cafes and shops in the La Candelaria, Bogotá's old town. We visited the very impressive Museau de Oro (gold museum) and the Botero art museum.. very interesting art.. not exactly what I would want on my walls but very different (see photos attached and make your own decision on how you feel about it).
After Bogotá we oped for a flight to he coast.. the price was quite similar to the bus and saving 16+ hours was far to tempting to pass up. We touched down in Santa Marta
and quickly came directly to Taganga. got acquainted with the place sniffed out Casa Felipe and then left our home base for Parque Tayrona
about an hour from town. This is where we spent four blissful days in pure paradise! No exaggeration the most beautiful beaches I have seen. On route my sandal broke so I ended up spending 4 day splashing around barefoot which only aided to the west-coast hippie stereotype I had acquired... but I didn't mind shoes were virtually useless in he mud we encountered. We spent our first night in the park at Playa Arrecifes in a hammock.. which surprisingly provided a solid nights sleep. Then we walked to El Cabo beach about one hour away. . this is where the beach really became gorgeous.. pictures better tell the story but we were in no hurry to leave. We spent 2 nights camping by the beach and explored untouched coves, found countless perfect yoga rocks and followed some of the largest trails of ants I have ever seen. The park was certainly the highlight of Colombia thus far.
Thanks for reading.. I really appreciate all the support and feedback I have been getting from friends and family back home you are all in my thoughts this holiday season.
There are more photos below