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Published: September 30th 2017
Geo: 6.23593, -75.5751
Colombia is DANGEROUS - since that's what everybody says about the country, it must be true, right? Robberies, muggings, drug cartels, armed conflicts with FARC and paramilitary groups - there's no shortage of horrible fates that could befall a traveler while in this country. You could get killed! You could get kidnapped and held for ransom! Never mind that only political figures or rich businessmen are at risk for being kidnapped, it could happen to YOU!!!
I don't want to downplay anything - there are definitely risks associated with traveling in a country such as Colombia. There are regions and neighbourhoods that should be avoided, and it's wise to not carry too much cash with you, or wear any flashy jewelry, or hang a fancy camera around your neck. There's always a chance of something bad happening, true of any country you are in - I wouldn't say that Colombia is completely safe, but if you take a few precautions, the chances are that there won't be any issues.
The problem is that it takes only one moment to burn a terrible reputation into the World's memory, but years to erase that. Sure, there have been all kinds of violent
incidents in Colombia's history, but in recent years, the government has done a great job of making its country safer for its residents and by extension, for its visitors. The cartels, FARC, and paramilitaries - they are still a huge problem, but at least the battle lines have been moved far away from places any traveler would visit.
Unfortunately, bad news sells - so you'll never hear anything good about Colombia in the news. Nothing about how it's a beautiful and diverse country with terrain ranging from lush green mountains, to beaches with sand as soft as baby powder. Nor anything about its incredibly friendly people, and how there's a certain love of life prevalent everywhere that makes it an unbelievably welcoming country to any traveler. It's a shame for Colombia but at the same time, a boon for any travelers that make their way here - as long as Colombia is perceived as being a dangerous country, it remains a country that has yet to be overrun with foreign tourists. making for the most pleasant of travel experiences. So please, continue to stay away, so that the rest of us can continue to enjoy this amazing country, free of
Early-Morning Pick-Me-Up at the Airport ...
... needing some caffeine and sustenance, I was surprised how yummy this simple little breakfast was - beyond the great cafe con leche, this almojabana was off the charts. A spongy cheese dough made from yucca flour and deep fried, it had a delightful soft and spongy feel to it. Though it did make me laugh, as it reminded me of all the plastic surgery in Medellin - the almojabana was a bit squishy like a certain type of implant ...
big tour groups and cruise ships!
Still, most are hesitant to come to this country and as such, B didn't want to arrive in Colombia unaccompanied. So, being the dutiful boyfriend that I am, I sent someone to pick her up from the Medellin airport, somebody trustworthy, somebody that would immediately convey a sense of safety to her - but for some strange reason, she refused to go with this man, so I was stuck waking up before 7 AM to make the long trek out to the airport.
Having seen most of Medellin already, there wasn't much scheduled for today - lunch in El Poblado, followed by a visit up Medellin's newer cable car system, essentially an extension of the Metro up into the slums perched high atop the city's hills. It was very interesting to see the effect of something as simple as accessible transit for residents of the slums - for a long time, people residents were largely isolated from the rest of the city, with commutes of up to 2.5 hours to their jobs in the wealthier parts of the city below.
The Metro Cable provides them a far more efficient means to descend from the slums
and access basic services, and also affords more opportunities to earn a better living. Accessible public transportation is something we take for granted in North America, and it was quite surprising to see the positive impacts, as a new stream of money entering the slums results in improved living conditions, and reduced levels of poverty.
It was interesting to hear the story of a fellow traveler who was staying at the same hostel - him and a few others had gone up the cable car on Christmas Eve, to find vibrant neighbourhoods with people partying in the streets. Some locals were so excited to see outsiders enjoying Christmas Eve in Santo Domingo, that they invited them in for drinks. After a night of revelry, they even extended an invitation for them to return for Christmas dinner! It's hard to imagine something like this taking place before the installation of the Metro Cable in 2006 - I mean, who would want to go up into that area any way? Colombia is supposed to be so dangerous, after all ...
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