Colombia is a country in South America with an insular region in North America. It has the second-highest level of biodiversity in the world encompassing rainforests, grasslands, deserts, coastlines and waterfalls galore.
50.1 million (2020)
Do not ask about “violence in Colombia” unless you have a specific question. Colombians are generally open to discussing the subject, but they can find it tiring or even annoying when foreigners seek a broad explanation. It is an incredibly complex conflict that is hard to summarise for people with little background knowledge.
Three foods you need to try in this country:
- Arepas (round corn dough that is stuffed with either savoury or sweet fillings)
- Ajiaco (chicken and potato soup),
- Bandeja Paisa (the Colombian version of English breakfast)
- Cholao (fruit drink mixed with milk and often topped with shredded coconut)
What the country is known for :
- Cano Cristales (the river of five colours),
- Cartagena (historic walled city),
- Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City),
- Pablo Escobar
More About Colombia
I visited Colombia in early 2022 because a friend living there for years had so many positive things to say about it. Naturally, I had to go see for myself. Also enticed by the lure of free accommodation and knowledge of someone already in the locale, Medellin – I’m there! If you do not speak any Spanish, I strongly recommend you download the google translate app. Even with that, I would say try and pick up some basic Spanish before you head to Colombia as in many places it may be challenging to find English speakers, outside the tourist and expat areas. The people of Colombia are generally very helpful and friendly, however if you go off the tourist trail it might get a little tricky if you do not speak the language. Not impossible, but if you can find a translator to take you around – I highly recommend that option.
There is a lot of international press about Colombian gangs, drug wars and different political issues. This is the reason why my mother was very anxious when she found out I would be heading there. Be aware that this stuff does happen and try listen to advice around how to avoid ending up in the wrong place or having the wrong conversations with the wrong people. To get more understanding of some of the history and things that happened in relation to the drug trade, if in Medellin, I recommend a Comuna 13 tour. Comuna 13 was considered one of the most dangerous residential areas in the world in the 80s and 90s, with prime access to a port that enabled trafficking of drugs out of Medellin. Wars began in order to own access to this prime land. The Comuna has now gone through a gentrification exercise and is an interesting place to get an insight into how things were and some of the work being done by locals and governments in rebuilding in this community. With the elephant out of the way…Colombia has a lot to offer.
With people of Colombia having Indian, African and European origins, there is a rich cultural mix represented in the country’s food, music, dance and art. The food is delicious and reflects the different influences of the people of Colombia. People are quite open and happy to share more about their culture and their history, when approached with neutrality. I took a trip to a market in Medellin, and was recommended to have a fish and plantain soup that I still have dreams about. Salsa nights are rife across the city, amongst other parties to relax and enjoy oneself.
Colombia is the third largest coffee producing country in the world after Brazil and Vietnam. Its speciality coffee carries bold flavours that leave coffee lovers wanting more. It’s a great destination for coffee tastings and for plantation tours which have gained popularity in recent years. I was not a big coffee drinker but I was converted by the Colombian Coffee. They do coffee, and they do it well. Due to its location, the tropical fruits in Colombia are plentiful and so sweet. There is a growing digital nomad community in Medellin and therefore there are areas where one can get western luxuries with a Colombian twist and also many English speakers (if that’s your vibe).
Finally, Cano Cristales, aka the River of Five Colours or Liquid Rainbow, is yet another site that should be on your Colombian bucket list. The water is a burst of red, orange, yellow, blue and green hues formed by the water’s constant interaction with the surrounding plants and algae in the Colombian province of Meta. Trekking opportunities are plentiful as it is quite a mountainous country and views from the top are definitely worth it!
|Do you speak English?||VHabla usted ingles?|
|Where is the toilet?||Donde esta el inodoro|
|May I please have some water?||Puedo por favour tomar un poco de agua?|
|I would like some food please||Quisiera algo de comida por favor?|
|Where can I get a taxi?||Donde puedo conseguir un taxi?|
NEWS & UPDATES
I always try and immerse myself in the local food culture. In many parts of Asia and South America, I have found that street food is very much part of the culture. As the diligent