Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Colombia, the BEAUTIFUL!

I mentioned in my previous post that I was going to Colombia - I left August 29th, and came back September 7th. It was a quick 9 days and I'm broke now, but the experience was worth it! Below are some of my favorite shots - all pictures were taken with my newest obsession, the Nikon D40. I was a purist before, reserving film for special occasions, but this has made me into a digital camera believer!

I started my trip in Bogota, the capital city of Colombia. It is incredibly high up in altitude - I was a bit dizzy at first, but you get used to it. The above picture was taken from the top of Cerro de Monserrate, which is a church built on top of the peak (3160 m).

Another view of Cerro de Monserrate.
The city of Cartagena - I would have to say it was one of the most aesthetically pleasing cities I've been to. This is part of the wall that enclosed the city - it was built to keep away enemies from shore. It is now a haven for domestic and international tourists - it is packed with horse drawn carriages offering tours of its winding streets, as well as an abundance of restaurants, shops, and money changers. The city stole my money, as well as my heart!
Cartagena, again - love the colonial architecture! I think I took over 100 pictures of just the buildings!
This is one of a couple of forts that protected the city of Cartagena.
Volcan de Lodo El Totumo - located 50km northeast of Cartagena. It is a small 15m dirt mound, but actually it's a volcano that spews mud! The selling point is that they allow you to swim around in the "lava." It's a little bit like swimming around in gravy. It was really warm and gooey. It's also impossible to sink! It was the most indescribable feeling.
There were enterprising locals everywhere - there was a person to scrub you down, a person to take pictures of you, a person to take the dirt off of you in the nearby river - craziness!
Playa Blanca - accessible only by boat. This was my first experience swimming in the Caribbean Sea. It was like bathwater! Nothing at all like the Atlantic Ocean. I could have stayed there all day. I also went snorkeling, and once I got the hang of breathing out of my mouth, I was able to see wildlife that I was only able to see in an aquarium or a fish store.
A typical meal in Colombia, also called Comida Corriente. It is usually a protein, like fish or chicken, with rice, beans, and a salad. If you're lucky, you may even get some soup. All for the low price of $2.50! For an extra $1, you can get the typical drink of choice, a Coke. I never drink Coke in the States, but I drank it all of the time while I was there - it was the best way to beat the heat and get back some much needed energy!
City #3 on the agenda was Santa Marta, and the Parque Nacional Tayrona. The first introduction to the rain forests. It was quite a hike to get there, and the heat for the past couple of days admittedly took a toll.
Lizard(s)! They were everywhere - once you saw one, you saw a hundred!
Another flight took us back to Bogota, near the historic downtown. The sky was unreal.
A busy Sunday morning - 6 short hours later, I was at the airport (sob!), planning my next trip abroad in my head! I have to say that there were a lot of naysayers who told me not to go to Colombia because it was too dangerous, I would get mugged, etc. Even though I didn't speak Spanish as well as I should have, I still managed to get around. The people were incredibly warm, friendly, and polite - they were great ambassadors for the country. The only time I felt that not all was well was going out of the airport - I had never been questioned, prodded or gone through so many checkpoints in all of my life! Too bad for me, I now have the travel bug. Got to start saving up for the next big adventure!