Colombia

With half of the quest (Bussing through central America) completed and a nice rest in Panama, it’s time to take on South America.

First stop – Colombia.
Colorful, peaceful, tranquilo!
It seems to me that gone are the days of violence that we heard so much about. I felt those Hollywood movies of how violent and drug laced this country was portrayed was over-exaggerated.
Yes, the drugs, guerrillas etc still exist, especially near the borders, but it’s slowly cleaning up.
Then again I, being a tourist, probably only saw the surface and not the real undercurrents.
Regardless, I discovered this country to be one hidden gem.

And have I mentioned, Colombia has the best food ! My favorite cuisine and coffee in whole of Latin America !

Definitely one of the places I will revisit just because there are so much more to be explored and the people cannot get any friendlier. They are curious about different cultures, different perspectives, slow to judge and just really welcoming. They do them and they let you do you.
Ah Colombia, you definitely surprised me 😉

CARTAGENA

Flying in late from Panama, first thing that happened was I left my phone at the backpocket of Copa Airlines. Went back to the airport but it was no longer there.
I was pretty sure it was the staff who had taken it as it was hidden in the backpocket and the passengers wouldn’t have even seen it.
Was a bit annoyed that even though it was Panama’s national airline, the phone was still gone and not returned. But, only myself to blame.

No phone for the rest of the trip 🙂 I guess in a good way I was forced to be in the present, and not on social media etc.

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Cartagena lies up north of Colombia and is such a lovely city. Colourful houses, friendly people, by the beach, has a historical old town, I really liked this place 😉

We stayed in the old city and it felt safe enough, calm enough to wander out at night.

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Met Igor from Brazil (middle guy) at the hostel whom we hung out with the rest of the days here. He likes eggs with tomatoes, like me – what up!

Such a friendly chap whose been traveling from Chile up (we were doing Colombia down) and who gave us good tips for the upcoming countries – the one that I still remember till today was “Enjoy the weather here, the next few countries will be cold”

Stalked him on facebook just then and he’s now living in Chile – dang so so jealous. The very country I would choose if I had to live in that continent.

My green umbrella in the picture, strangely I wished I still had that umbrella, guess it has so much sentimental value.

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Lovely colours! Snapped one while she twirled and danced with the basket of fruits on her head .

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Lovely old town of Cartagena

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599193_10150830882637470_542192028_nMany Fernando Botero’s replicates to be found. 538440_10150830882822470_503053251_n

I was quite fascinated by why Botero wanted to paint full figured women.

His take on the unique, large people style ? -“An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why. You adopt a position intuitively; only later do you attempt to rationalize or even justify it.”

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Guess who we found! This German guy (Blue) whom we met on the ferry to Ometepe, Nicaragua and whom we had dinner together there, such a small world! This was his last stop though, he was going back to Germany after this.
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Visited the palace behind. Was nice to just have a few different people in the gang, turns things up.

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Ah I just spotted my brown Havianas – which I am still wearing today, 5 years on. Oh man, I’m not throwing you out now. Still good and wearable till this day.

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Hostel’s wall. Motivation for the ones that passed by.

I recall buying bus tickets down to Medellin (the next city) by a supermarket. I also recall being stressed having to work connection routes out and having to buy bus tickets before they get sold out.

The first time I had to see it all, hit up as many cities as possible. The next time if I came back here, I definitely would do it differently since I have sort of scanned the place, less rushed, hand pick a few spots, just a month or two, fully enjoy and explore.

MEDELLIN

Lovely city sandwiched by mountains 🙂 Realized I didn’t take any pictures here so I took some off the net.

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Medellin has its own unique style, red roof houses between lovely slopes. Sometimes I see random pictures online and I would be able to guess it’s Medellin because of this 🙂

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I remember walking a lot here as well. Went to this shopping mall and had a huge drama with taking money out – can’t remember what it was about but enough to remember that it was hella frustrating.

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Downtown Medellin

Medellin used to be cartel land where it was interlocked with drugs, violence and all that years ago when Pablo Escobar the drug lord was still in power, supplying cocaine to USA. When he died, the cartels fell apart and 15 years on, the city cleaned up quite a bit.
Still we wanted to be careful and not walk down the wrong alley.

I recall here, I had avocado with soy sauce in the hostel one night. And it was so delicious. I was never an avocado fan but after this, I was hooked and still eat it the same, with soy sauce, to this day.

COLOMBIA
I remember the bus ride down to Colombia was quite a long one, and when we arrived, I saw this dumpling looking thing that reminded me so much of the dumplings I ate during the lantern festivals. I badly wanted one.
I think homesickness was kicking in bad by then.

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I later found out that it was Colombia’s common breakfast fare – Tamales. They were this rice dish with pork wrapped in leaves and steamed.!!!

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Had a friend here who generously opened up her house to us. Yayy 🙂 She came to pick us up too which was again, such a refreshing change to not have to figure out connection routes. The stress that came with it was really quite testing as well, trying to get from one point to another in a foreign land…Again was so nice to have a different person join the crew and add another dimension to this experience 🙂 This time even better, a local 🙂

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Colombia City Square! Rain’s coming.
Being quite high above sea level, Bogota’s fairly cold year round.
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Colombian sweets!
Loved the creamy arequipe ( caramel ) here in Colombia. Oh man!
Much prefer colombian’s version to the famous Argentinian’s version.
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Llamas chilling out.

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First taste of Colombian cuisine at the famous establishment Casa Viejo.

Here’s a platter of cheeseballs,sweet potato balls and fried plantains (different type of banana-I’ve learnt this kind of bananas are meant to be cooked. If eaten straight, it tastes kinda starchy weird).

L O V E D the food! Especially those Empanadas! The filling was soooo good!

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Ajiaco ! (Colombian chicken soup)

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Potato Creamy Gratin.

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Had a walk around the city after the big meal. That day was Sunday so the roads were closed and it became a pedestrian street

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I recall pointing out an alley that looked interesting but Claudia mentioned it was better not to wander down there as it was not safe. If she wasn’t there to guide us, I probably would have gone down…It’s just funny to think that sometimes ignorance equates lesser fear or just plain oblivion but with that also comes risk.
Regardless, great to know we should not go down that path.

8057_10150831152592470_26897298_nVisit to the world’s biggest gold musuem, found in Bogota! – Museo De Or0
Front view-looks like a cat

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Lateral view-a parrot/bird!

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All I thought was – Wow must be heavy to have all those on you for the whole day.

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This is Claudia, our gorgeous Colombian friend who gave us a room in her house to stay and has two lovely dogs. Such a friendly lady, I’m so happy to have met her 🙂 Hope to see you again one day mi amiga 🙂282332_10150831155872470_46225377_n

He’s so heavy we needed two people to move it.

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Want a bird’s eye view of Bogota? Get up here! Hill of Bogota.
And even at this height, we were only seeing the north and a little bit of the east side (or was it the south and west) of Bogota. Huge city, indeed.

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Took the cable car up here, you could hike too – about 40 minutes.

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City lights up at night – so pretty. We sipped sugarcane here while watching the city, simple bliss.

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Breakfast of traditional Colombian fare.

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Chocolate con queso. Here Colombians drink their hot chocolates differently, dipping a slab of cheese in it and allowing the cheese to melt with the hot chocolate.
Cheese kinda cuts through the sweetness of the chocolate. Anyhow, it was good !

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And I present Colombian’s tamales 🙂 O_M_G.

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This is really one of my favorites. Steamed Sweet corn maize enclosing tender mix of pork and chicken chunks that fall apart at the prick of your fork.
Salivating just thinking of this. It looks gross here but I just wanted to zoom in so much to capture the tender meat.. i could have this daily.
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Snack time on traditional fare.
Cheese with Arequipe (so creamy, i love this caramel texture!) or jam.
This cheese had a really light flavor too, texture akin to tofu. To end it off, wash it down with Colombian’s famous coffee.
Food Haven, oh definitely!

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You can’t stop at one! Uno mas por favor!

 GUATAVITA
All that food, we gotta walk it off. ( nah, but we did drive quite a fair bit and then walked a little in the next town haha)
Lovely sleepy town a few hours away from Bogota.

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BEAUTIFUL . Such amazing scenery along the way.

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Girls selling apple cider-ish drinks. And crepes with arequipe (bt of course) or strawberry jam168216_10150831157727470_978057385_n

Always wanted one. and some wind chimes. See them dance in the wind, warm breeze, staring out at the hills or beach.
Up till this day, I have none yet. One day, one day.

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There was this beautiful huge lake out here 🙂532993_10150831160147470_487133156_n

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Sun was setting. So lovely to just come out here. I recall imagining this to be the setting for one of Paul Coelho’s book about witches and their potions – it just seems to be a mysterious quiet town, perfect for such sort of things.

Bye Guavtia

166524_10150831165797470_984683210_nLast meal in Colombia- Sanchoco (another kind of soup), Sausages, Beans, pork bits and steamed plantains. So so decadent.
Every meal I had in Bogota was soo good, gosh, if I stayed any longer, I will start growing horizontally.

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And again, Muchisimas gracias Claudia por making Bogota and Colombia muy especial para mi!
I think I’m a little biased when it comes to Colombia because of the friendly locals who showed me their hood.

Nos Vemos Colombia, till then, stay gold.

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