Que chevere Colombia

Published: July 25th 2017
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We have spent around 5 months of travelling with boats, cars and busses to get from Colombia to El Salvador. Now it took us a just few hours by plane, plus a night at Panama airport, to get back from San Salvador to Bogotá, to get back from Central America to South America. Arriving in Bogotá made us realise how much we had adapted to the Central American way and standard of living and transportation. We currently experience some kind of split personality within ourselves.

There is one part that so much loves the most basic life, wearing flip flops and mostly the same clothes everyday, being able to just go for a swim and eat fresh local produce whether this is fruit, vegetables or the fresh fish pulled from the ocean during the past night. A simple life with not too much choices in which we find the beauty in local people who are the most genuine and friendly people.

The other part loves the perks of big developed cities with beautiful people living the good life being spoilt with choices. Just one flight put us smack back in the middle of a booming Latin American country, right on the backpackers superhighway and in the middle of a growing tourist industry while European countries were apparently all starting with summer holidays. While we of course had met some travellers during the past few months, now we were suddenly surrounded by British, French, Belgians and Dutch. While during the past few months we mainly have been speaking Spanish, now we were suddenly translators for a load of holidaying people who don’t speak a single word or Spanish. While the past few months we enjoyed the luxury of single origin coffee at the estate where it was produced, now we had the choice of all sorts of coffee from all over the world brought by us by both local and global chains. While in the past few months a visit to a local supermarket to us already felt like we had too much choice, now we visited hypermarkets in mega-malls and super de luxe supermarkets in high end shopping areas. While the past few months we enjoyed the basic local cuisine and feasted with tostones and pupusas, now we lavished ourselves with delicious burgers, avocado on toast, scrambled eggs croissants and imported beef. While we loved the local beers and the local mariachi style live music in the Central American countries we visited, now we tasted a beautiful award winning Colombian wine, we are sipping cocktails and drinking craft beers accompanied by Ibiza style music played by a DJ. It’s good to be back in Colombia but we already miss Central America a lot.

We spent five days in Bogotá because it was so nice to be in such a developed city. We visited malls and restaurant areas, spending money on fancy food and nice drinks. We dressed with all the clothes we have with us, because of the altitude it was a little cold to our liking. We spent a nice day on bicycles exploring all different areas and neighbourhoods of this big city evolving and growing with a high pace. We visited the amazing Zipaquira Salt Cathedral, which is cut out of the rocks that remained after the salt was mined out of the mountain.

From Bogota we took a bus to Villa de Leyva, which is one of the most beautiful colonial towns of the country. All streets and plazas are paved with cobbles and all houses and buildings are either authentic colonial buildings or beautifully restored. The surrounding hills were explored by us on bicycle and we visited a wonderful vineyard where they make the best wine of the country. This area is also famous for the enormous fossils that are well preserved, like the really very big and scary Kronosaurus Boyacensis which is some kind of pre-historic combination of a crocodile, a dolphin and a dinosaur.

Villa de Leyva is also quite high in the hills so it was still cold and after a few days we decided to move on to San Gil. San Gil is a town where all tourist flock to for all sorts of adventure stuff like paragliding and rafting. It was raining and cold so after one night we continued looking for some place warmer. We travelled by luxurious bus for many hours and the whole night to Riohacha, a beach town at the Caribbean and it was nice and warm, actually really hot. Riohacha for us was just the hub to start our travelling to the most northern point of the South American continent and the next day a collectivo taxi and then a 4X4 for a few hours through the dessert brought us at Cabo de la Vela.

We totally fell in love with Cabo de la Vela. Cabo de la Vela is a very small fishing village surrounded by desert. The village consists of houses built from the kernel of cactus plants by the Wayuu tribe people. Most of them are still living their lives like they always have been. Life is simple here. Cabo de la Vela now happens to be one of the best spots for kitesurfing in the world and this has changed the village quite a bit but not too much yet. The flat water and constant wind attracts many kite surfers and during the day the bay fills with colourful kites. The locals are involved and now run kite schools and teach kitesurfing if they are not showing off their tricks, jumps and skills.

Our cabaña is right at the beach and has a nice veranda and two hammocks in the shade for us to relax. We get to know the village and the families who have started small businesses like a juice bar and of course many small fish restaurants.

Every morning Judith starts the day with some yoga at the beach followed by a quick refreshing plunge in the beautiful turquoise water just before breakfast. The day is filled with lying on the beach or in the hammock if the beach is too hot and Merijn goes kitesurfing just in front of our cabaña one, two or even three sessions a day. After Merijn has finished kitesurfing we watch the sun set enjoying a cold Venezuelan beer. In the evening there is water for us to take a shower and afterwards we eat the best and freshest fish and lobster ever. This is the good life. We love it.

We stay in Cabo de la Vela for one and a half week before we decide to get on the move again. With all sorts of cars and buses in a long journey of in total around 26 hours we end up in Medellín. Medellín is where it is always spring and will be the base for us to start exploring this part of the country.

Medellín is a city of contrasts. We base ourselves in the nice, beautiful, modern, rich and completely gentrified Poblado neighbourhood. We spend a whole day exploring the city center and Comuna 13, a neighbourhood which used to be the epicentre of drug trade, crime and poverty but which is now on the rise after some very successful projects improving the neighbourhood for its residents with colourful stairways, brightly painted houses, electronic escalators connecting the neighbourhood with the rest of the city.

Additional photos below
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A huge cross chiseled out of the rock in the CathedralA huge cross chiseled out of the rock in the Cathedral
A huge cross chiseled out of the rock in the Cathedral

Judith is standing at the bottom of the cross, to give some perspective

26th July 2017

Central American Way
Isn't it interesting how we world travelers adapt so quickly to an environment. We embrace what is around us. We are water people so we understand the flip flops and hanging out in the water. The mine shafts sound really interesting. Yeah for yoga at the beach.

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