A few months ago, I moved back to my home country, Colombia. I had been living and studying in the US for six years!
After moving back, I experienced culture shock. A couple of friends who are world travelers tried to warn me this would happen. Turns out once you are no longer a circle or a square, you become a triangle.
I also started feeling a bit depressed and anxious. I had been traveling non stop for the last six years and the thought of staying in one place indefinitely scared me. Luckily, my roommate from college and her family decided to come visit me in August! We spent a week traveling around Bogota and Santa Marta.
Bogota, is the capital of Colombia. It is located right in the middle of the country. It is actually at above 8,000 feet above sea level (Machu Pichu is at 9,000) Impressive. I know.
We spent a day overviewing the city from a place called Monserrate, which is even higher than Bogota itself. To get to the top of the mountain, you must take a cable car. The ride last about five minutes and you can already get amazing views from there. Once you get to the top, you are actually at 10,341 feet above sea level. It may take you a couple of seconds to get used to the altitude so don’t rush to walk around. Take your time.
We also went to Zipaquira, a small town North of Bogota. The town is known for having the largest underground salt mine in the world. Here, you can take tours in any language you wish. We were lucky, we arrived right when the English tour was starting and didn’t wait at all. The tour takes you through different halls of the mine. The tour guide explains the process of extracting salt and the history of the region as you continue to admire the salt walls around you. You can also purchase jewelry and Emeralds here. At any point, you are free to taste the walls to see if its real.
The last part of our trip was probably the most adventurous part of all. We spent a couple of days traveling around Santa Marta. It is a historic town in the North side of the country. It overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. The town is amazing because it has it all; literally, from snowy mountains to beautiful white sand beaches and volcanoes.
We would wake up early in the morning and head to an inactive volcanic area for a bath in thermal waters. Afterwards, we would have breakfast in one of the stop and go areas in the smaller towns nearby. Breakfast consisted of many arepas and freshly squeezed juices. Then, we would either head to the beach, the pool, or explore the mountains.
One day we went to a beach called Playa Blanca; obviously, because of their extremely white sand. Here we went snorkeling and also rode jet skis! The food was amazing. You feel like a spoiled human because everything is served to you. Vendors are very friendly and you can find anything at the beach, candy, coconuts, drinks, even shrimp coctail!
Another day, we went exploring to the mountains, we found a little creek and decided to start walking. The people of Colombia are very nice. One guy approached us and told us if we kept walking, we would find a waterfall. We decided to trust him and walked for about 10 minutes trough the creek. We found an amazing waterfall and climbed huge trees. Needless to say, I felt like I was dreaming. My phone was in the car because I didn’t want it to get wet. But I really regret not taking it with me. The place was amazing.
On our way back, friendly locals offered us mangoes from their mango plantations. They even let us get them from their mango trees just for the fun of it. It was a very fun experience.
If you go for a longer time, you can take a four day trip to join native tribes at the Sierra Nevada. There is a natural reserve park called Parque Tayrona that I really recommend going to. It is beautiful, full of wildlife, full of green and blue. You can stay in tiny houses over the sea called Ecohabs. They are sustainable and very cozy.
Currently, I am near Bogota. I’ve gone hiking a couple of times and I have to say, the views take your breath away – Not just the super hard hikes
Colombia has many more secret gems. It is not a bad country like the news seem to portray it. Our people are very friendly and love to meet foreigners. Hopefully, I’ll visit the coffee sector, Medellin, the Amazon, and many more places soon.
Needless to say, this is exactly what I needed to realize I was not missing out on anything else in life. I was right were I needed to be and I needed to be thankful to live in a country like this. My goal is to see as many places as I can while I am in my 20s. To stop wishing for the day I’ll be able to do cool things, and make it happen. I want to meet people from all over the world and see how I can make an impact while I am here!