I'm not the world's biggest pre-planner when it comes to travel. I tend wait until I'm on the flight before I crack into my guidebook and begin to plot out what I'll do once I've stepped foot on foreign soil. Somehow, until I'm on the plane, the trip never feels quite real. This can be slightly problematic (such as, uh, landing in Bangkok without a real idea of how I'll fill four months of solo travel time) but also open up whole itineraries that would never have crossed my mind otherwise. (The best example being the time my friend Catherine and I flew to Lisbon with nothing but a rental car reservation and wedding to attend a week later in A Coruña, Spain, and had the good fortune to be seated next to a friendly Portuguese man who rattled off a series of interesting places we should visit along the way.) In the case of Colombia, I bought my Lonely Planet a couple months before the trip but didn't really delve too far in. That's because basically the first page I turned to mentioned two old villages you could walk between and the very thought of doing this gripped my imagination. Two villages connected by an old, cobblestone trail? Say no more! I had one mission in Colombia and it involved ... an old road.Read More
What can you do with three weeks in Colombia? A lot, it turns out, even after spending a week in Cartagena taking a weeklong intensive Spanish course! One of the appealing things about Colombia is that its sheer geographic diversity (beaches! mountains! rainforests) mean that you have have many mini-vacations-in-one, depending on how much you move around the country.
While road travel has only recently become easier, thanks to previously dangerous roads becoming safe for daytime and tourist travel, it can still take a long time traversing Colombia's mostly two-lane roads, many of which wind their way through steep mountain passes along with all of Colombia's truck traffic. So, thankfully for the time-strapped tourist, there are also loads of cheap airfares to choose from, making zipping through the country possible (and affordable).Read More
As I've touched on in posts before, there's an inherent masochism to travel. Heavy food, uncertain showers, bad night's sleep — who knows what we might encounter when we leave the familiar comforts of home? And then, if you're like me, there's the willingness to do things you know you won't find comfortable in part because you want to get to the final destination and also because you're curious to see the space in between the destinations, where the land changes from flat to mountainous, who travels the same route as you, what it looks like along the way.
I didn't do a ton of research before coming to Colombia, but the small amount I did pointed me to a walk you could do between the towns of Barichara and Guanes, in a region called Santander, on an old road built hundreds of years ago that was still maintained. Rad! But when a week ago I started plotting out how to get to Barichara from the north of Colombia, I saw that it wasn't going to be an easy feat. I did look into flying (being traumatized from some particularly long bus and train rides in SE Asia), but when I calculated the numbers of hours I'd spend changing planes and still riding a bus, it didn't seem worth it. So a bus it was, and a foray into my familiar masochistic travel mode it was going to have to be.Read More