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January 9th 2012
Published: September 30th 2017
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Chaos ...Chaos ...Chaos ...

... you can't really tell from this photo, but the Bogota airport was a mess, even at 6:45 AM. One of the workers put it best - there are simply too many people using such a small airport. I've seen cities with less than 500,000 people that have airports the same size as Bogota, which has over 8 million residents.
Geo: 51.0451, -114.063

This is it - the last day of the trip!  It's always a sad one, as it's difficult to leave a place you've thoroughly enjoyed without some feeling or sorrow, or wishing that you had another day to savour one last time, all those wonderful things you've enjoyed over the past few weeks.  The sadness started setting in for us a few days ago, as the pending trip finale inevitably dawned on us - the only thing you can do is enjoy what little time you have left, and reminisce over all the experiences, both good and bad. 

Colombia is about as good as it gets - relatively inexpensive, a variety of climates and as a direct result, a variety of activities to partake in, a fun atmosphere and most importantly, incredibly friendly people.  So much to see, and so much to do - as always, places like this leave you longing for more and planning the return. 

It really is like a mini Brazil, but more digestible because of its smaller size, offering more bang for the buck.  It's not as wild as Brazil, but I don't know if there is another country in the world that even
Cafe Rausch ...Cafe Rausch ...Cafe Rausch ...

... the last Colombian meal with the last Colombian coffee. The Rausch brothers own high-end bakeries, restaurants, and cafes in Colombia - they seem quite famous, so we gravitated toward their kiosk in the airport. Good coffee, and a really nice chicken pastry. The almojabanas were several times better than those we had at Cafe de la Estacion, both moister and lighter. But still, they couldn't touch the amazing ones found at the Medellin airport.
comes close to that!  Colombia isn't quite as fun in that regard, but because of that it also takes less of a toll on you -  where <a target="_blank" href="http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/pwong/12/1294916760/tpod.html" rel="nofollow">Brazil simply kicks your ass over and over again</a>, curiously continuing to draw you back for more, Colombia only kicks your ass a little bit, but gives you plenty of opportunities to recover before coming back for seconds!

So because of all the similarities between Colombia and Brazil, it should be no surprise that the theme song for this Colombian excursion isn't even a Spanish language song, but a Portuguese one from Brazil.  <a target="_blank" href="
&feature=fvst" rel="nofollow">Michel Telo's Ai Se Eu Te Pego</a> was playing everywhere during our time in Colombia - an unbelievably happy and catch tune, it's a song that you can't seem to get enough of, but also a song that when you hear it five years later, you can't believe that you actually liked such an annoying tune!  Apparently it's quite the phenomenon not only in South America, but also in unexpected European countries like Belgium, Germany, and Poland.

It's actually a remake of a song released in 2008, and there is even a cheesy little dance
California Pizza Kitchen ...California Pizza Kitchen ...California Pizza Kitchen ...

... used to be a huge fan of this franchise, so this was the best choice of the options available at the Miami airport. Have found memories of the peking duck pizza which wasn't on the menu here, with the closest version being this thai chicken pizza - pretty bad, as the dough was quite gooey as was the peanut sauce, making the pizza a bit of a soggy mess. The worst part? With a drink, this was over $16!
that goes along with it.  Translated in English, the title is "Oh, If I Catch You", and Michel Telo has also released <a target="_blank" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?src_vid=SzRjSTCKhqA&feature=iv&annotation_id=annotation_369184&v=aD7Z11R-WUE" rel="nofollow">a predictably bad English-language version</a>, terrible because the translated lyrics sound absolutely horrible!  Why mess with a good thing?   

It was hilarious walking around Cartagena on New Year's Eve, with the song being played at seemingly every private party in town - there was a point where we walked for nearly five minutes and heard the song non-stop, with each party blaring it as we strolled by, but at a slightly different point in the song, making it seem like the song was on a continuous loop.  After hearing the song countless times over our first week in Colombia, we actually suffered from withdrawal when we barely heard it during the final two weeks - I can't think of a song that better symbolizes our time here, since we missed it as much as we're going to miss Colombia!  

So there isn't much more to say about Colombia that I haven't said already - it's amazing and I can't wait to one day return.  I'd previously steered clear of it because of my
Desperate ...Desperate ...Desperate ...

... now at the Tampa airport, willing to do anything to feel warm weather before going home, I sat outside in this smoking area which was fenced in like a prison. Sad ...
preconceptions that turned out to be completely invalid, ideas that were fostered by alarmist media and stereotypes perpetuated by those with no actual firsthand knowledge to base their opinions on.  Last year's trip to Brazil was enlightening in that regard, exposing the glaring disconnect between the world's perceptions of a country, and the reality that exists within its borders, within its culture, and within its people.

There is so much disinformation in this world, so many misunderstandings that arise because people simply don't comprehend each other, because they haven't made the effort to learn something about each other or where they come from.  It's so easy to believe what they are told about a country, yet it's so difficult to travel there and see for their own eyes if it's true, because those beliefs are the very obstacle preventing them from finding that truth.   

I have very few travel regrets, but I do have one about Colombia - that I let my preconceptions get in the way of coming to visit this beautiful country, that I waited so long to come here.  A number of times during this trip I've questioned myself as to why I waited so long to
Even More Desperate ...Even More Desperate ...Even More Desperate ...

... craving some more fine Colombian coffee, the only thing in the terminal was a Starbucks - I decided it was better to have an iced tea, rather than tarnish my wonderful coffee memories of this trip with the burnt, bitter, and overpriced stuff that Starbucks dishes out.
make this journey.  Had I known years ago what I now know after three weeks in Colombia, I would've traveled here LONG ago.  I suppose it's a moot point now ... so perhaps the better question to ask is, what are <b><i>you </i></b>waiting for?  Take it from someone who has been here - don't believe the hype, the stereotypes, or the third-hand accounts ... come here and see for yourself what Colombia is all about!


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Au Bon Pain ...Au Bon Pain ...
Au Bon Pain ...

... today was only about eating, as that's all you can really do on a 20-hour travel day! Having passed through the Dallas-Fort Worth airport so many times the past few years, this particular chain caught my eye on numerous occasions, but this would be the first time sampling it. Arizona Chicken, with cheddar, romaine, tomatoes, and a spicy dijon mustard, served on sundried-tomato bread. Very good bread and juicy chicken - not too bad but I didn't really have much time to enjoy it, since a short connection time meant I gobbled down the sandwich very quickly while boarding the plane.
Whoopie Pie ...Whoopie Pie ...
Whoopie Pie ...

... I've seen these on TV a few times before, and couldn't pass up the opportunity to sample one today. This one was chai-spiced, tasting a lot like gingerbread cake with a creamy filling. Good, but too sweet.


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