Nukanti Foundation

FOSTERING COMMUNITIES THROUGH YOUTH EMPOWERMENT

Being Tourists in Colombia

Theodora Stankova2 Comments

After a few months living and working in Colombia finally we took some time off and travelled to the North first and then to the South a bit. And as a result we are even more in love with this country. Colombia is amazing! Okay, so here are the details:

On the Caribbean cost we visited Cartagena, Playa Blanca, and Tayrona National Park.  Cartagena is probably the most well-known and popular city among visitors which has made it a vibrant, busy and touristy place where one can meet old and new, Caribbean and Latin American, rich and very poor, touristy and traditional.  In that sense it is so different to the rest of the country. I personally had the feeling that it tries to fulfil all stereotypes of Latin America to meet the expectations of tourists, but that didn’t lessen our excitement and joy during the stay. We took a few walks in the historic center, geot burned on the beach and danced, danced, danced all night!!  Café Havana is very much recommended to all who like to (and can) dance Cuban salsa and want to experience a time-travel back to the 60’s. The interior of the pub, as well as some of the local regulars, really reminded us of that time. A good advice for everyone wanting to have a night out here – take a salsa crash course before, people here do dance very well!

Our next stop, Playa Blanca, is the dream of all beach lovers: white sand, hammocks, tropical fruits and cocktails, and great waves! There are many companies offering day trips on boats from Cartagena to Playa Blanca, but it’s worth taking the non-conventional route that involves taking a bus to Pasacaballos, then a ferry and a mototaxi to the beach. It’s slightly longer and more complicated but one can catch a glimpse of the everyday life of locals which is in stark contrast to the paradise you feel when resting in your hammock on Playa Blanca.

After having rested on the beach for a night, we continued our trip to Santa Marta and Tayrona National Park, one of the most beautiful parks of Colombia’s many national reserves. The 35kms long coast line of Tayrona offers a great combination of amazing beaches to sunbath and rest, and rainforests with many peaks to track. And that is exactly what we did there: climbed up to the little village of Pueblito which was once the biggest and most important settlement of the Tayrona Indians including 250 terraces, and then had dinner and rested on the beach of Arrecifes and el Cabo San Juan. And as soon as we left we wanted to return again!

Between the north and the south we came home to Quinchia for a week, worked, did the laundry and packed again to head off to Salento, Quindio.

Salento is a sweet village in the valley of the river Cocora with breath-taking landscapes and wax palms which are national symbols of Colombia. There are many walks tourist can take throughout the valley either on foot or on horseback. We did the long walk of 5 hours, visited a colibri reserve, rode horses, tried ‘trucha’, the local, very yummy fish, and played tejo and sapo which are similar games to bowling. And together with us another 3,682 tourists did the exact same things. As one of our fellow Colombian travelers put it: ‘Salento is on the gringo trail, so all foreigners come here.’ It is true, Lonely Planet and Tripadvisor did a good job there so we hardly heard Spanish speaking in the town. Apart from tracking on the mountains one could also visit local coffee farms and have a peek around. And what a surprise! After all the years of eating pineapple, I had to realise that it doesn’t grow on trees but it’s more like a bush and is quite short. Obviously I didn’t pay enough attention in my biology lessons… We also got to prepare our own coffee and try some sweets made of/with coffee. Unfortunately we only had a weekend in this beautiful valley but wish to visit it again!

Now we are back again in Quinchia and continuing working with the community. But, between the lessons and workshops, we find time to plan our next trip, this time to Cali!