02 Sep 4 Reasons Colombia Is Awesome
Today’s guest post is written by Jasmine Stephenson who explores four awesome reasons why travel to Colombia may just be the best thing you ever did.
Mention that you’re thinking of a trip to Colombia, and you’re likely to be met with horror stories of cocaine, kidnappings, and trouble with neighbours. The reality is, Pablo Escobar has been dead since 1993 and your risk of abduction is extremely low. Colombia is on the must-see list for those travellers in the know. Colombia is awesome for a million reasons: here’s a few that stick out to me.
Reason #1: It’s Safe
Really? Yes, really. With Colombia’s massive defence budget being utilized in full, the FARC stays in the jungle and the gangs stick to their own stomping grounds, neither of which are areas you are likely to visit as a tourist. After Central America, Colombia feels like a child’s playground. Honestly, I feel safer in Colombia than I do in most parts of the world. Not to mention I can barely stretch out my arms without smacking a soldier.
Reason #2: The Variety
Amazon? Check. Mountains? Check. One of the world’s largest cities? Yep. Beaches? Got those too. Practically everything a traveller is looking for can be found in Colombia. All kinds of landscapes and climates, preserved indigenous groups, stunning colonial pueblos, impressive architecture… I really can’t think of anything Colombia is missing.
Reason #3: The People
Colombia is home to some of the friendliest, most open people on Earth. As Colombia has yet to explode on the tourist trail, there are still several places I have found in Colombia in which I am one of the first tourists. After hearing my thick accent, people immediately engage me in conversation, asking me what I think about Colombia, what I’m doing here, and what my life is like, sometimes offering helpful tips and things to see in my present location.
When I landed in Pereira from Panama, the taxi driver taking me to my first hostel handed me over a few bills in each increment so that I could become familiar with them. Wandering around practically any part of this country, I feel completely comfortable asking whoever I see for directions, knowing that they will help me.
Colombians are a passionate people. They have a colourful way of utilizing the Spanish language in a way that even the most mundane thing sounds absolutely magical. They are fiercely patriotic, while at the same time aware of their history and its current obstacles. You can’t help feeling inspired by the state the country is in now compared to what it was like 20 or even 10 years ago.
Reason #4: Shake It
The music in Colombia reflects its rich heritage and cultural influences. From Cumbia and Vallenato to Salsa, music and dance pervade all aspects of life. It is not uncommon for an old man on a bus to be beating away on his suitcase as if it were a drum set to the bus driver’s playlist (true story) or to catch a few words of a popular song sang from the mouth of a youth on the metro.
And Colombians can dance. Since the music is so varied, and the beat of Latin music is so different than anything I’ve heard, dancing in this country can be a bit intimidating. However, many people have been happy to show me a few steps here and there, including a Rolo in Taganga, two bartenders and a rasta in Cartagena, a friend in MedellÃn, and a hostel owner in Jardin.
Come now before the secret is out!
Jasmine is a 20-something nomad traveling indefinitely. She is currently falling in love with Colombia, finding it hard to convince herself to leave. Follow her adventures at Jasmine Wanders Travel Blog.