I wasn’t sure what to expect of this place. A lot travelers find themselves unimpressed, preferring the heat of Cartagena or the salsa in Cali.
After an 18 hr bus ride from Santa Marta across high altitude plains and mountain roads I got to Colombia’s capitol city. The first thing I noticed was two girls waiting for a bus, one with purple hair, and the other with dreadlocks. Finally, signs of counter culture!
I took a free walking tour led by a local film student, the popular graffiti tour led by the talented Aussie-Bogotano street artist, Crisp, walked through markets, hiked up the Cerro de Monserrate, wandered through museums, and met more fascinating locals and travelers than I can count.
So far, I’ve talked to people from probably a dozen different countries about different social and political problems in our countries. We’ve talked about police violence in the US, gun culture, differences in healthcare provision, social spending, and women’s rights. I’m so impressed with all the well-informed, ambitious, adventurous, and idealistic people I’m meeting and feel like a bit of a dweeb for saying it, but I just can’t wait to see what our generation accomplishes in the next ten years. So many intelligent, creative people have come up with creative methods of expressing their dissatisfaction with the world today. Surely something will come of it all.
In any case, I love this vibrant city, and its art, music, fashion, and youth. I feel inspired.
The last several days were tougher than I expected.
I left Cartagena to move further up the coast and join a tour I’d heard a lot about. Trekking through rainforests and over mountains, we would get to see the ruins of an ancient indigenous city, once home to thousands.
We had the option of completing the roundtrip trek in 4-7 days, and I went with four, only to discover how out of shape I am. Regardless, the experience was fantastic. After riding a bumpy 4×4 up the side of a mountain, I joined a muscular, chainsmoking Frenchman and seasoned Swiss traveler to follow our guide Manuel into the wilderness.
Manuel, an indigenous Wiwa, hopped across steep, rocky terrain effortlessly while I panted somewhere behind, clearly struggling more than the others. Still, the lush rainforests of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the highest coastal mountain range in the world, were spectacular.
On the first day we were caught in torrential rain before reaching camp, turning an hours worth of steep downhill walking into a mudslide. We spent each day in 80-90, degree heat, fording the Rio Buritaca several times, slogging over peaks, and navigating sections where the trail was nothing more than a pile of boulders along the river or an inexplicable vertical climb. I spent every day with wet socks, eventually catching a cold and having to ride a mule for 5-6 hours on the final day back.
Below are some of my favorite views of the jungle, the mountains and the ruins:
Hi everyone! I’ll be updating this blog with updates on my travels. After several particularly grueling months on the job, I’m taking full advantage of life’s uncertainty and ambiguity to see part of the world I’ve always wanted to see.
In Colombia I’ll see mountains, jungles and the mighty Amazon River and Rainforest, but my trip began yesterday in Cartagena.
Views of the Atlantic Ocean abound from high rise towers abound, but the best sights are in Cartagena’s rustic and charming Old Town neighborhood.