As we approach the end of our year long trip it is definitely the time to relax, do less, sleep more, eat well, get some sunshine and enjoy our last month of freedom before getting back to the ‘real world’.
Bogota – Colombia
The month began in Bogota which is the capital city of Colombia, the skies were grey, it was cold and at times a bit dodgy so it was a real difference after our blissful two weeks on Providence last month.
Bogota started off well, we met with our friends Chelsea and Sean who we travelled with in Peru and Bolivia. We visited Monstserrate, had amazing vegetarian food, stayed at a great hostel, did a walking tour and a Colombian cooking class.
But after the three days we were happy to saying Adios to Bogota after a dodgy taxi ride, an attempted knife mugging and witnessing people affected by crime.
Dan’s friend Patrick also arrived from Ireland and stayed with us for three weeks. Our first stop with him was Salento which is in the Zona Cafeteria. Here we spent 4 days drinking lots of coffee, learning how to make coffee, walking and seeing the tallest palm trees in the world.
Salento was one of the places we have absolutely loved in Colombia and after planning to spend only two days we spent 4 and reluctantly left for Guatape.
An absolute jewel of a destination and unfortunately one that most people just visit as a day trip from Medellin. Guatape is a beautiful old colonial town but the area is made up of tiny little islands on a lake. Our hostel was more like a home than a hostel and the two days we were there were the happiest and most chilled of the whole Colombia trip. We did early morning yoga, went kayaking, met some great people and just enjoyed the stunning surroundings.
Medellin was the next stop and it is a bustling city that has transformed itself in recent years and we spent a week exploring it. At first I didn’t like it, it was like any busy city full of chain restaurants and expensive places to eat and drink but as time went on I began to really enjoy it.
We did a walking tour to learn about the troubled past, the corrupt government, the Paisa people and plans for the future. We visited the Antiquoa Gallery which is home to Colombia’s favourite artist – Bottero. His art work is so unique and you can see many of his works here and in the nearby square.
Communa 13 was one of the most memorable things we did in Medellin, we did a walking tour through what used to be the most dangerous place in the country. Only very recently the government and military killed 3000 people in 2 days to rid the area of gangs, drugs and violence. How it has turned itself around is remarkable and the people who live here are a testament to that.
Our über driver took us on a Pablo Escobar tour of the city which included seeing many of the old burnt out homes he once owned in the city which are now government property, his family grave site, where he was shot and killed on the rooftop and he even took us to Pablo Escobar’s brothers home where he showed us some old cars, memorabilia and told us some stories that didn’t make it to Narco’s. I know it was a controversial choice but I’m glad that I did it, I am glad to have learnt more and of course I am in no way condoning or glorifying Pablo Escobar but he is history as is all of the other violence in Colombia inflicted on people from the government, police, military and drug cartels.
On our last night we also scored tickets to see Medellin Nacional football team play, the energy from the crowd was electric and the passion was felt throughout the whole stadium. Such an amazing experience.
We then flew up north to Cartagena, although we were there for just one day last month it was great to return to the beautiful old town. The only downside was that it was high 30’s and crazy hot, so between the hours of 11 and 5 it was almost impossible to be outside as the heat radiated from the concrete buildings. But at night the place came alive so there was lots of late nights, street eating and cocktail consuming.
The final destination on the South American journey was the island of San Andres, it wasn’t as beautiful and unique as Providence but we really just wanted to spend our last week here relaxing, Dan wanted to do some more diving and we wanted to get that last Vitamin D in us before heading back to London.
We had our own private beach and an 8 week old Rottweiler puppy that became our shadow and that we fell madly in love with.
It’s bittersweet to be honest, we’ve had the most incredible year and it really has been life changing but we are broke and looking forward to our own bed, a hot shower and spending time with our friends and family.
I will write up a post about exactly how I feel about this whole journey because I have changed and learnt a lot in the last year. I don’t want to sound like those awful articles you read about how “travel changes you” but I know I’ve changed, grown and I’ve come out the other side a better person.
Plans for the next month:
Enjoy being back in my adopted home town of LONDON (still the greatest city in the world).
Once I return home I will dedicate time to my little blog as I’ve got six months of adventures to share! I tried to blog on the road but every time I opened my laptop it was time spent not exploring the places I was in or not chatting to people at the hostel and that to me just didn’t seem right.
Check out my other monthly round up posts from my year of travels