The last country to visit during our close to 10 months trip was Colombia. Its beautiful landscapes and warm and friendly people definitely put the country in a top spot of the places we liked most. As with most other countries we visited, we would like to collect our thoughts and observations about Colombia in this post.
Peace has arrived in most parts of Colombia but it is fragile
So much has changed in Colombia over the last few years that as a tourist it is hard to imagine what life was like here just a few years ago. The scars run deep everywhere in the country and people seem reluctant to talk about it. Violence is far less widespread these days and many parts of the county is considered safe for tourists.
And yet, the situation remains fragile. Albeit the political circumstances are different, it reminds us a bit of Iran’s or Myanmar’s current situation – a lot of progress and stabilization and still things could go south easily and instantly… Here in Colombia we heard many sceptic voices about the current political environment. The new president Duque is considered an Uribist and after his election a wave of violence hit parts of the country. The peace talks with guerilla groups will possibly end.
What a disaster it would be if things went back to guerrilla, paramilitary and government groups fighting each other again…
Colombians can teach Europeans a lesson in enjoying life
People might have less money here but they certainly have more hope and more fun than in Europe. Colombians are simply very open and positive people. They intuitively start easy going conversations with strangers and immediately make foreign tourists feel welcome. In the evening you can observe people dancing out on the streets and there seem to be endless reasons to celebrate, life chief among them …
Furthermore family and friends seem to play a much bigger role than in Western Europe. People are anchored in personal relationships – helping each other in need. Sometimes in Europe it feels that people already have everything so they think there is no need for family and friends anymore… And yet, nothing could be further from the truth…
Colombia is simply a cool country to travel to
Come and see yourself! There is a reason why nearly all visitors to Colombia speak highly about it. Many travellers we met who “did” all of South America told us that Colombia was their favourite destination. The food certainly is not the reason.
Not only are the people incredible, as just explained. There is also so much to do and see here! You can take salsa dancing lessons, immerse yourself in colonial towns such as Cartagena or Mompox, visit incredible national parks, explore the magic of Colombia’s rainforest, discover Medellin’s violent history, do hair-raising adventure sports or visit the desert – this list could be continued forever! However, we think the main reason so many Westeners love Colombia is simply the above mentioned warm and approachable atmosphere on the streets.
Food could be a lot better here
Fruit and vegetables are abundant here. Coming from Europe this is hard to overlook. There are mangos, incredibly sweet pineapples, granadillas, lulos, maracuja, huge avocados and so much more. And yet, it seems that fried meat, fried plantains and rice (or some corn based staple dish) is the standard dish here. This is really a pity since it would be so easy to add a bit of variety and vitamins to the dishes.
Coffee is another example of what tourists will likely observe that could be improved. Colombia obviously is a huge coffee producing nation. However, it seems that the best beans are reserved for exports – locals drink the left overs. This is a pity, especially since we saw in Indonesia that things can be handled differently. On Sulawesi for instance we got incredibly good local coffee everywhere.