Destination Colombia

So, you may of have heard that Colombia is the next great place to visit.

Colombia is probably my favourite country in the world.

I've spent over eleven months living and travelling in Colombia, across five trips that all started over 10 years ago in 2007, and many of my closest friends are Colombian. I have also travelled with my daughter when she was 19 years old when we were backpacking Latin America and with my crazy monkey mona loca Juliana who was only 12 years old. Great experience for them!

This is a country that gets under your skin.

Visually, it's the most striking place I have ever visited. A travellers paradise, with beautiful landscapes, breathtaking mountain ranges, volcanoes, natural parks, rivers, waterfalls, coffee, food, music, beaches, cosmopolitan cities, colonial villages and the most beautiful woman in the world.

Face of Colombia Photo: © taher0828

First: Short History:
1525 - Spain begins conquest of Colombia.
20th July 1810 Colombia gained independence.
1819 - Simon Bolivar defeats Spanish at Boyaca. Republic of Gran Colombia formed with Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela.
1829-30 - Gran Colombia dissolved when Venezuela and Ecuador split off, leaving present-day Colombia and Panama a separate state known as Nueva Granada.

"Spanish brought the culture, but Colombia enriched it "Carnival" is living proof"

Guerrilla war 
1965 - Leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) and Maoist People's Liberation Army (EPL) founded.
1966 - Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc, the current largest guerrilla grouping) set up.
1970 - National People's Alliance formed as a left-wing counterweight to the National Front.
1971 - Left-wing M-19 guerrilla group emerges.
1978 - President Julio Turbay (Liberal) begins intensive fight against drug traffickers.
War against drug cartels stepped up
1984 - Campaign against drug traffickers stepped up following assassination of justice minister.
Peace talks
1998 - Andres Pastrana Arango - a Conservative - elected president, begins peace talks with guerrillas.
Plan Colombia 
2000 July - Pastrana's "Plan Colombia" wins almost US$1 billion in mainly military aid from the US to fight drug-trafficking and rebels who profit and protect the trade.
Peace deal with Farc
2017 - Colombia signs historic peace deal with Farc - peace agreement to end 53 years of conflict


Why you should travel to Colombia

"A place waiting for you to discover it's  beauty"

To be able to get off the tourist trail and visit remote villages that are situated in the heart of Colombia. So you can experience the real-life of Colombians and where you can see amazing tropical wildlife. It has a wide diversity of landscapes and a very large biodiversity with some very interesting flora & fauna, especially the differnt type of birds. You feel part of the natural wildlife where you can be surrounded by mountains and jungle even when you are in towns and cities.

It's not your normal two week package holiday, this is a place for the independent traveller, to see and get a feel for what Colombia has to offer.

Colombia: Where the people are friendly, a place where hospitality is second to none and one of the last backpacker frontiers.

It can get lively and there is lots of energy, fiestas almost every week! The world capital of salsa. Folklore and music can be seen and heard everywhere.

So, if you want to head to a true adventure-wonderland, and meet with my friends you should travel to Colombia.

Is Colombia calling you?
To know more about travelling off the tourist trail, small tours, meeting locals, family stays, cooking, visit markets, small coffee farms and so much more.

Visit my tour MAP plus Ibague and around. Then email martin@mytravelphotoblog.com or WhatsApp me +447739614579

Also info on learning Spanish, where to teach English or voluntary work in Colombia.

Family stay

Staying with a family in Ibague really touched my heart and something that will stay with me forever. I made a lot of friends while in Colombia (and in England) who gave me the chance to know the real Colombia.

Geography:
Location - Largely situated in the northwest of South America.
The longest mountain range in the world (above water) "Los Andes" Near the Ecuadorian frontier, the Andes Mountains divide into three distinct, roughly parallel chains, called cordilleras, that extends northeastward almost to the Caribbean Sea. Altitudes reach more than 18,700 ft (5,700 m), the Sierra Nevada the highest point at over 5800 m With mountain peaks are permanently covered with snow. The central cordilleras range being part of the volcano belt, making a good area for coffee plantations. The southern and eastern portions of the country are mostly sparsely inhabited tropical rainforest, the Pacific on the west coast, the Atlantic on the North coast and Colombia borders with 5 counties to the northwest by Panama; to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru. The 4th largest country in South America. Despite its large territory, (Colombia is over five times the size of the UK and 8.8 times the size of England) Colombia's population of 49 million is not evenly distributed, with most Colombians living in the mountainous western portion of the country as well as the northern coastline, most living in or near the capital city of Bogotá. The southern and eastern portions of the country are mostly sparsely inhabited tropical rainforest's, and inland tropical plains containing large estates or large livestock farms, oil and gas production facilities, small farming communities and indigenous tribes. The Magdalena the main Colombian waterway.
Colombia has plentiful oil, coal, and nickel that is exported with excess to two oceans.

Map of Colombia

Climate: is mainly tropical as a result of its geographical location near the Equator, depending on the altitude, the temperature will drop but maintaining an average temperature throughout the year. Rain is likely at any time of the year with no real season variation.

Bogota
Alt: 2600 m
With over 7 million people, is laid out across a large area. People commute by bus, the Transmilenio buses that run in their own bus lanes.
The old part of town "Santa De where the past is very present.

"It's easy to love Colombia as it loves you back"

A country defiantly moving forward.
Colombia is growing in popularity as a destination for the independent traveller, as it has a lot to offer those who like a true adventure. Almost untouched by the outside world, but even Colombia is opening up to growing tourism, so you will need to get off the tourist trail and embrace the real Colombia. Hope you are ready for a great ride, if not just go with it, you will have the best travel experiences ever.
The Colombian tourist board like to promote "The only danger is wanting to stay" The other danger of wanting to stay longer for men is the beautiful woman.
It's easy to make friend's when travelling in Colombia and before long you will meet someone special.

Sancocho in Chamba Bowl

Travel is the best education

"Behind every good Colombian is a good sandal - La Chancla"

Where children are grown up to show respect and care for others from their family members. The Colombian people are also hard working, with long working days and those who live and work in Bogota having to commute across the busy city. If you are poor, life can be very hard, there is no help like in the UK.

Colombians have a lot of talent - it seems everyone knows's how to cook a great meal, without learning to be a chef. While many people in the UK put a pizza in the oven or buy a takeaway.

The number one thing with a Colombian woman is cleanliness. Even if you think you are a clean person, you will learn there is more to showering once a day.
And if you are not a clean person then Dios Mio!
While the Colombian man maybe macho, the Colombian woman is strong mentally and physically. They need to get on with everyday situations without much help financially. Support comes from friends and family with what little they can offer.
And there is no waste, especially with food.
There is a huge culture difference: Religion a big influence in everyday life, you may hear "gracias a Dios" many times when spending times with Colombians.
Many Colombians don't have disposable money to spend on luxuries. Like us, the English probably spend money more easily on many things we don't really need and is quite normal for us to eat out and buy coffee/beer on a regular basis.
Urban living is not the same for everyone, there are big gaps between rich and poor.
70% of education is in the private sector.
While there is still a large class divide, life for many is changing in Colombia, more opportunities, Colombia is happy, has hope and having a young population there is a lot of energy.

Loca for football Photo: © disney.bonilla

Poor but happy
Why at first we might not understand why Colombians do things the way they do!
It's from having a long history of some difficult times. In the city's doors are kept locked and you can see bars on every window "a reminder of not so distant past"
One thing for sure, they are very passionate about there country, it shows in their love of life particularly with music and sport. Where in England for many we have now starting to lose this love as we don't seem to have a direction to aim for. (There is so much more to life than owning expensive items, "status symbols" especially if you don't use them or have the skill to use them or even willing to learn the skill to use them) While our country is one of the richest in the world, but without knowing what we want, we can become unhappy. So why not visit the happiest country in the world?

I'm lucky in the sense I am old school, by that, I don't need the latest gadget and instead spend money and time on traveling. I am grateful for what I have, a lovely daughter, my little Colombian monkey, great friends, family, my job that I enjoy and a job that allows me time to travel.

If you're looking for some adventure, then visit Colombia.

Why not stay with a Colombian family, visit and stay at a small coffee farm Finca or visit one of the many rivers, waterfalls and mountains/volcano's that's off the tourist trail.

Mountains of Colombia Photo: © taher0828

Some Colombian Spanish useful words:
That you will hear on your travels across Colombia.

Slang: 
Chévere - Cool, "Que chevere!" to mean "how great!" or "how awesome!"
Bacano - Good, pretty, and lousy 
Chiflis - Loco Crazy but good
Mono - Blonde or monkey 
Culo. Better to say cola or rabo - backside/buttock 

Amor - Love:
Mi vida - My life
Tan Bonita - So pretty
Guapa/o - Beautiful
Pico - Peck (short tight lipped kiss on the lips or cheeks)
¡Bueno! - That's enough!
Regalos - Presents 
Me regalas - Ask for something for free before actually paying for it
Muy amable - very kind of you

Comida - Food:
Buen Provecho! - Bon Appetite!

Look for the following dishes you must try:

Caldo de costilla - Beef rib soup (I have this for breakfast)
Sancocho - Is a traditional soup (often considered a stew)
Lechona - Consists of pork stuffed, yellow peas, green onion, yellow rice, and spices cooked in an outdoor, brick oven for about ten hours.
Tamal - Typically eaten Sunday lunchtimes
Buñuelos - A fried dough ball

Arepa de choclo - Sweet Corn Arepas with cheese
Patacon - Green plantain fried slices
Maduros - Ripe plantain cooked in the oven or BBQ with cheese
Queso campesino - Farm cheese
Longaniza - Spanish sausage
Rellena- black pudding 
Aji - hot/spicy 
Aroz con leche - rice pudding
Panela - block of unrefined whole sugar cane, verry important in Colombia mainly used in drinks "Aguapanela" a sort of herbal tee and to sweeten up coffee that is sold on the streets.

Also see my home cooking in Colombia Page

Drinks - Bebidas: 
Chocolate caliente - Hot chocolate
Kumis - Fermented milk
Avena Colombiana - oat drink
Limonada de Coco
Coco Loco

Frutas - Fruits: 
Tropical fruits are sold everywhere
Guayaba 
Guanabana 
Mora
Papaya
Lulo
Plátanos

El campo:
Finca - Small coffee farm
Hasienda - Large coffee farm
Araña - Spider
Escorpion - Scorpion
Serpiente - Snake
Pajaro - Bird
Loro - Parrot
Árbol - Tree
Paisaje - Landscape
Paraje - Spot or place

Other words:
Extranjero/a - Foreigner
Mendigo - Beggar

Como estas - Ways to ask how are you?
¿Que mas? - Reply with bien!
Estas bien o que?

A la orden - come in
Pasa - Enter
¡Adelante! - Means ahead or forward, also used to ask to sit at the front with the driver of the bus or jeep.

Negocio - Business
Dueno/a Owner or landlord
Vecino/a Neighbour

Where it all started for me in Colombia over 10 years ago, in a small antigua town called Rovira and the city of Ibague where I lived. 

Feliz adventura amigos

Hope to see you in Colombia

Comments

  1. Me encantó, es genial saber que hay personas como usted tan maravilladas con mi país y que por ende lo recomiende a todo el mundo. Gracias por eso... lo espero pronto amigo

    ReplyDelete

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