Colombia Backpacking

27th June 2007 – 7th August 2007

Girlfriend Amanda and I touched down in the Capital of Colombia, Bogota ready to put our short but eventful relationship to another test, traveling. After knowing each other 6 days we had lived together for nearly 3 months in the previous chapter, now it was time to travel together.  Some say the ultimate test.

Amanda brought to the team critical assets, her Spanish (she is a high-school Spanish teacher having studied in Spain and lived in Paraguay), her smile and breasts, all of which helped greatly for bargaining, ease of travel and enjoyment ;).

We had a broad plan, to make our way to the Rio Magdalena (river). From there we would hitch-hike on produce boats up to the Caribbean coast and then make our way back down to Bogota in 6 weeks to fly back to Denver, if we were still talking.

Villa de Leyva, a great little romantic town. Taganga on the not so great beach.

We enjoyed Bogota, but we wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, we wanted to feel like we were on holiday. We made our way to Villa de Leyva, a little romantic colonial town. Theres definitely benefits of travelling with a girlfriend, past backpacking companions Simon and Barney never did appreciate me snuggling up to them. It was fairytale perfect.

As we all know, the only things that plans do is change. After talking to locals, we found that hitching up the river by boat would be a very very long journey. We were on holiday and craving golden beaches, so we brought a tent off a Colombian lady and turned up to the bus station asking to get on the next bus heading north. After changing buses 3 times, breathing in enough exhaust fumes to kill an elephant and enduring maximum air con by night and no air con in the 40+ degree days, 20 hours later we were at the Caribbean. 

We took our tent and went to the nearby national park, Parque Tayrona. It was just what we were looking for, Paradise.  A bloody hot paradise too, but the friendly Colombians we met took our minds off that. So far Amanda and I were doing well with the relationship test, but unfortunately the recently purchased tent did not, the poles snapping in 5 places on its first use, and I didn’t fit in it!

The Lost City Hambo!

Next was the trek to the Lost City. This for me was a highlight. The only way to get to the ruins of the lost city is by signing up for a 6 day trek (4 treks left  per week). You can not do it solo, and there is no road to get there. We had a great bunch of 15 people and an entertaining guide (our guide was the guide who had been kidnapped with his group by Guerrillas whilst doing the same trek). Some people could focus on the mosquito’s, sleeping in hammocks, muddy paths or the trekking To me it was 5 star trekking, the guides and mules carried all the food and cooked –the mules didn’t cook, just the cook did-, all we had to do was walk, talk and enjoy the paradise that surrounded us.

Break time on the way to the lost city - Beautiful Teh Terraces of Cartegena

After the trek we made our way to Cartegena, described as the jewel of the Caribbean. We loved the city. OK, this is turning into one of the those boring bit by bit encounters that bores the reader to bits as you were not there and don’t know the places or the people I met. I will fast forward.

Amanda and I flew out to San Andres Island on a free air ticket we were granted due to a 12 hour delay in Miami en-route to Colombia – go delays! San Andres was postcard beautiful, everything you would expect from a Caribbean island, although a little boring with the hoards of holidaying teenagers.

Wanting to go even more remote Amanda and I found out about a local container ship that does a weekly  8 hour overnight trip to a neighbouring island that is even more beautiful! We boarded the boat at night with the other locals and a cow. We picked out our spot on the deck to sleep.  In the morning we arrived a little wetter and tired. But after closer examination of the island it was not what we were kraving, and was waaaayyyyyy more expensive. So we had to make a decision to wait a week and get the boat back, or take the boat that night on the return voyage to San Andres. Much to the surprise of the captain, we bit the bullet and endured another 8 hours in rough seas on the deck of the boat back to San Andres. So we spent 16 hours trying to sleep on the deck of the boat and only 12 hours on the island!

Paradise. Mandy with Medellin in Background

Once back in San Andres we wanted city life again, Medellin the resting place of Drug Cartel legend Pablo Escobar was going to be our home for our last week in Colombia. Automatically we fell in love with the place and people. We singed up for a week of Salsa lessons and got into Hostel life of ‘socialising’ and checking out the city.

The end of the chapter was fast approaching, which was lucky as the money had long since run out. We took an overnight bus back to Bogota. After 6 weeks of travelling together, we had passed the test. We bordered the plane back to what we were expecting to be the USA, Denver chapter. A chapter that would see us slip back into the reality of everyday life. But the publisher of the next chapter had another idea……………………


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