The Time We Missed our Rosario Islands Boat Tour in Colombia

At 3:00AM, in a club in Cartagena, the opening notes of Despacito blasting around us, I looked over at my friend Theresa.

“We should probably go home! We have a boat tour leaving at 8:00AM!” I yelled half-heartedly.

But we both just shrugged at eachother, silently agreeing to push through, and I refocused my attention on the Australian boy smiling down at me.

Many blurry hours and barely any sleep later, I awoke in my dorm bed that was so high off the ground it left blisters on my hand from climbing up.

During less hungover times in Cartagena

I hadn’t plugged my phone in, obviously, and the air conditioning in the room had just shut off for the day, and my head hurt. I crawled over to Theresa’s bed to shake her awake. After a few minutes of giggling about the horrible shape we were in and trying to piece together the hazy, Luis Fonsi-soundtracked progression of the night, we simultaneously realized that if the air conditioning in the room was off, it was late enough that we had missed our boat tour.

Sometime in the middle of the afternoon, we dragged ourselves to the tour office where we had booked our day trip, embarrassed grins on our faces, and begged to swap to another day. We were in luck, or so we thought – we were off to the Rosario Islands the very next day, and we even went to bed before midnight AND set alarms, because we are conscientious and prepared adults.

So, on to the tour. We booked through an agency called Backpackers (creative) and I’m not sure if I’d recommend them or not even though we had the most amazing day ever – you’ll see why. The tour is 170,000COP per person ($75 Canadian) which seems pricey, but it is a jam-packed day.

We got free transport to the boat at Playa Blanca, snorkelled at Isla Grande, had beach time at Cholon, Playa Azul and Playa Blanca, and an included lunch. Honestly our favorite part was that nobody else really spoke English: The other travellers on our boat were either Spanish or Portuguese speaking, which was a nice change from the other backpackers we were always around.

The Lionfish Incident

So we both speak very basic Spanish, not really much more than asking for directions and ordering for food. This is why we were quite concerned when our guide reached into the ocean to catch a terrifying looking fish, screamed as it bit him, and then immediately dove off the boat and swam to land, abandoning us in the boat.

Our lovely guide let us sit on the front of the boat

I am not exaggerating. We literally sat there gaping at the other passengers as they tried to figure out how to explain what was happening to the little white girls.

Apparently, our guide was trying to catch a lionfish (for lunch?? still not sure if this was a joke). He did in fact succeed, and it stayed, dead and creepy, on the bottom of the boat for the rest of the day. We also learned that lionfish bites are actually very deadly and you need to seek medical attention. So our guide was swimming to land to….seek medical attention…on a barely inhabited island. This is all I know. He came back with a bandaged hand, no further explanation, and we jetted off. Sure.

Our Adopted Miami Family

At the first beach stop of the day, we decided to wander around and see if we could make any friends. There were tons of boats, including some crazy expensive yachts, moored around this little beach blasting rap music. One family waved at us and we chatted with them for the whole time. They were from Miami, and there were at least 3 generations of them, all partying and laughing on their chartered boat!

We eventually got bored of sitting in these chairs and went to meet people

 

We ended up hanging out with them at other stops, going on their banana boat with them, and holding our boat up because we were busy drinking beer with our new awesome friends. My favourite fact is that one of the guys went to high school with Pitbull. I am, unironically, a huge Pitbull fan, so this was thrilling to me. Honestly at this point all of the beach stops start to blur together, both because I didn’t pay attention to the names and because I had more than a few beers. I do remember, however, that every stop was more beautiful than the last, and I equally enjoyed the blissful intervals on the boat, speeding through the crystal clear Caribbean water.

Our friends and our free banana boat ride

The Weird Part

So the tour finished, we went out in Cartagena again that night, tanned and happy and with hair still full of salt and tangles. We sang the praises of our tour to everyone we met, talking about how nice they were to let us switch our dates when we missed the first one.

Look how happy I was!

Then, on my last day in Cartagena, I was sitting in my hostel lobby before I left for the airport. Theresa had already gone. Someone came in and asked the receptionist for me and Theresa, as I looked up suspiciously from behind my book to see who could possibly be looking for us.

It turns out that the travel agency was expecting us to pay again for the whole trip, which we had already taken. Apparently they didn’t feel the need to inform us  of this fact while we were ON the trip, which still boggles my mind. I get why we deserved to pay, but it felt a little extortionate that it was so last minute. I argued him down to paying for half, only to realize he actually wanted me to pay for Theresa too since she wasn’t there!!! Not a chance. I ended up paying him for half of just my portion, which was pretty fair, but it was just a really awkward situation.

Moral of this long-winded (as always) story: go on the Islas de Rosario tour with Backpackers, you’ll have the time of your life. Just make sure you wake up for your pickup!

Best of 2017

Last year, I wrote a massively long Best of 2016 post and I still reread it constantly, every time I want to reminisce on how awesome that year was. I don’t know if anyone else found it as interesting as I do, but either way I really enjoyed writing it.

This year, I was thinking about writing one but I didn’t think there would be enough highlights since I didn’t travel as much. Then I realized I had been to Chicago, Vancouver, Victoria, Nova Scotia three times, Colombia, Greece, Italy, England, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. So I guess 2016 just really spoiled me; because objectively this was still an awesome year. When I actually got in to writing this post it was so nice to reminisce on everything wonderful that happened this year. Also this is long again. Sorry.

Sailing around Greece

Obviously, this is number one. I wrote a whole post about my week with MedSailors aboard a yacht, but suffice it to say this will be a tough adventure to top. Honestly, the best thing about this week was that I didn’t touch my phone after the first day. It was so freeing to actually live in the moment and not worry about posting the perfect snap story.

Me and Haley still text constantly about this trip, and we are definitely still planning to do the same in Croatia ASAP.

Exploring the Cotswolds

I LOVE England. I’ve been five times now, and I always try to make it to somewhere new while I’m in the country. In January I headed over to Surrey to visit my friend Brooke, who was au pairing for the sweetest family of all time. On her weekend off, we bussed to Cheltenham to visit my parents’ friends Rob and Karen. I’ve seen them lots of times over the years, when they come to Canada or when we go to England, and they are possibly the best hosts of all time.

Me and Brooke were just grateful that they let us crash with them, so we weren’t expecting the royal treatment we got: a personalized tour around the Cotswolds, wonderful home-cooked meals accompanied with lots of wine, and definitely more generosity than we deserved!

It couldn’t have been a more perfect weekend getaway, and I know I’ll be back to the Cotswolds. Every town was breathtaking and charming, especially since it was January and they weren’t packed with tourists.

Seeing the northern lights

On a related note, I flew to London via Reykjavik on Wow Air. I paid $400 CAD for the ticket, which was a darn good deal for a flight to Europe – but of course it came with the reduced service of a budget airline.

Right before I checked in, my dad sent me a message suggesting I get a window seat on the left side of the plane in case the northern lights were out. I took his advice, not really expecting it to happen. About halfway through the flight, the flight attendants announced that we were about to see the Northern Lights out of the left side. I immediately threw my book down and pressed my face against the window.

I don’t have a photo of the Northern Lights because I was busy crying. Here’s Iceland.

For the next twenty minutes I couldn’t take my eyes off the sky: as a child I loved the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman, following a child named Lyra in a magical world. A lot of it takes place in the Arctic, and the northern lights feature heavily. I felt like Lyra, staring out at the sky and feeling strangely spiritual. It was a beautiful experience (I sound like a hippie) and I can’t WAIT to see the northern lights again.

Falling in love with Naples

Something I have learned this year: I do not appear to be destined to visit the Amalfi Coast. Three times I have booked and paid for a stay there, and three times something has gone wrong and I didn’t make it.  Our flight to Naples was so delayed that we couldn’t get to Positano without paying a truly absurd amount of money for a cab.

So we hopped in a cab to downtown Naples instead, at 1AM, without a place to stay. We went to the hostel we had booked for the NEXT night, assuming they’d have availability, but we were out of luck. We eventually found somewhere, and crashed around 2:30.

With this inauspicious start, our time in Naples could have been total crap. On the contrary, we fell in love! The castles and forts have stunning views, the people are so friendly, every alley is stunning. Naples certainly has a special Italian magic, and I would go back in a heartbeat.

Properly seeing Chicago

My previous experience in Chicago involved an unplanned overnight layover. I had been wanting to go back since then, so in June my friend Sunjita and I flew down for a weekend and had an absolute blast.

This was also the weekend that Porter Airlines delayed us over 4 hours on the way there and OVERNIGHT on the way back, and I swore off Porter forever. However, Chicago was worth it.

Ironically, in my Best of 2016 post I talked about two awesome girls I met in Austria. They lived in Chicago, so we stayed with Kim and spent the whole weekend with them!! It is so, so nice to actually reunite with friends I meet abroad, and I can’t wait to see them again.

Anyway, Chicago is awesome. We went to a taco festival, tanned at the incredible beaches (who knew?), and tried the life-changing deep dish pizza. 10/10.

Our Meteora Hotel Room

I am confident that this is my favorite accommodation of all time, and I’ve stayed in some pretty awesome places from houseboats to resorts. We stayed in dirt-cheap hostels for our entire Greece/Italy trip EXCEPT in Meteora. I came upon Hotel Doupiani House and once I saw the view I knew we had to stay there.

This was our view!

Everything about our room was perfect, and the staff at the hotel were unbelievably helpful and sweet, but the best part by far was our balcony. We sat out there until late in the night, drinking a bottle of wine and catching up on all the gossip that we had missed in eachother’s lives.

Meteora is a magical place, and staying at the Hotel Doupiani House is an amazing way to make it even more magical.

One of my favorite photos from Greece

Hiking Grouse Mountain

If you read my Best of 2016 post you may remember that I have suddenly found myself really into hiking. Obviously, there were gonna be some hikes on this list as well. I visited Vancouver for the first time since I was three in May, spending two days in Victoria and two days in Vancouver. The indisputed highlight of my trip was hiking up Grouse Mountain!

Look how Canadian I am in this photo. Shorts in the snow! It was great to hike this right at the beginning of the season since it was fairly empty, but I did trip into the snow and get soaked at one point. Good thing I was sweating from the hike!

The view from the top is gorgeous, but the hike itself was a great experience as well. I met a lovely Austrian couple and we chattered away in German and English about their trip to Canada and my trip to Austria. We hiked most of the way together which was a nice change since I usually hike solo! It was probably the hardest hike I’ve ever done but well worth the effort.

Going back to Carter’s Beach

Carter’s Beach is a specific place in Nova Scotia, but really this highlight is just about learning to appreciate my home province again. I never realized how much I would miss the ocean when I moved to the middle of the country, and now every time I come home for a visit my first request is to visit a beach.

Carter’s Beach in particular is one of the most surprising beaches I’ve ever been to. The water is beyond freezing, but from the look of it Carter’s could be in the Caribbean. Being away from home has made me fall so much more in love with my home and I have loved being back here for Christmas!

A Day in Paradise in Colombia

Every single day in Colombia was amazing, and I still need to write a few more posts about it. The best day, though, was on our boat trip to the Rosario Islands. I don’t want to give a ton away here because I’m dying to write a really detailed post and use every single one of my photos, but basically, I had no idea this kind of water existed off the coast of Colombia. The Caribbean coast here is such an underrated gem and I had the time of my life snorkelling, hanging out with a random extended family from Miami, and getting a really great tan.

This is the aforementioned random family from Miami

Jungle Living in Minca

Another Colombia entry. Warning, the next one is Colombia too.

Anyway, Minca was so cool. Staying in a jungle cabana was such a lovely way to connect with the sights and sounds of the jungle, and I will never forget how lovely it was to wake up and grab coffee while everything around me woke up. The second night, staying in a dorm bed perched at the top of the building, with a totally open wall to my right, was simultaneously terrifying and extremely peaceful.

Ugh, now I miss Minca.

The Most Fun Five Days Ever in Cartagena

A friend recently asked me what to do in Cartagena, and I said, “I went to a rooftop that was really nice. But it was my friend’s apartment so you can’t go there. Otherwise I don’t know, just like walk around.”

Really, that sums up my time in Cartagena. I didn’t really DO a lot, but I sure had a lot of fun. Our hostel, Republica, was pretty much the definition of a party hostel, and we took full advantage of the party.

From having a beer on the city walls, to exploring a different nightlife district every night but always ending up in the same club, to the pool parties at the hostel, there was definitely a lot of drinking involved in our Cartagena stay. The vibe of the city just makes you want to live it up, and we did.

Also, I met a very cute and very tall Australian boy, which never hurts.

Quitting my job

Remember what I said about sailing in Greece being my number one highlight of the year? I take it back, quitting my job was DEFINITELY the best thing I did in 2017. I was so deeply unhappy sitting in an outdated office in a sketchy part of town, doing work I physically couldn’t have cared less about. One day I arbitrarily applied for a few travel jobs, hoping someone would throw me a rope that would convince me to take the plunge and quit.

Now I have fun coworkers who do things like get me sweet 16 cakes for my 22nd birthday.

Flight Centre called me in for an interview, and I made it through the process. I was hooked! I make a ton less money and work a lot more hours, but I am also about 1000% happier as a travel agent than I was as a “Category Shopper Development Analyst” (Barf)

How fitting to end on the best decision I’ve ever made. To 2018 – hoping for even more adventures!

Hippie Paradise in Minca

I had a very specific itinerary for my nine days in Colombia. How much of that itinerary did I follow? The first night. After that, everything went out the window including a few prepaid hostels, a flight, and some tours. I didn’t lose too much money due to the cheap cost of travelling in Colombia, but it was yet another lesson for me.

Don’t plan in advance unless you have to.

Part of my problem is that I LOVE trip planning. Even if I have no intention of actually taking a trip, nothing brings me more joy than poring over guidebooks and creating detailed spreadsheets.

But my most rewarding trips have happened without a real plan. Morocco left me a totally different person, I meant to plan Tanzania but never really got around to it and I still think about my time there every day, and of course, there was Colombia.

Minca wasn’t even on my radar, but as we did some research in Santa Marta we decided it was the logical next step. Annoyingly, the beautiful beaches of Tayrona were off limits to us as the park was closed. We didn’t want to go to Cartagena quite yet, and so we hopped in a cab after negotiating with a few different drivers and proceeded to sit in traffic on the same road for 45 minutes.

The most Bethany photo that has ever been taken.

Eventually, we did make it to Minca – the drive there was beautiful and we only paid 30,000 COP – less than fifteen dollars. The two most well-known hostels in Minca have something in common: you can’t drive to them. Casa Elemento has recently become a Pinterest phenomenon, with a giant hammock overlooking the mountains. (More on this place later.)

But it was fully booked, so we hiked 15 minutes up a hill, backpacks in tow and brilliantly sporting flip-flops, to stay at Casa Loma. Also, my travel companion Theresa had a sprained ankle, newly acquired from a slightly wild night in Medellin.

So we were in a place famous for its hiking, where our hostel could only be accessed via the aforementioned hiking. This was a recipe for a really shitty trip – but Minca was one of the best parts of my time in Colombia.

Casa Loma

This hostel is a dream come true. There’s no wifi – I love that, since it makes people actually talk to eachother. A gorgeous dog lives there along with a ton of cats, and the rooms themselves are awesome. Theresa and I splurged on a cabana (because it was the only thing available, lol) and had ourselves a lovely romantic Valentine’s Day. And then proceeded to have nice slumber party chats about how single we are.

Two things make this hostel worth the journey: the food and the sunset. There’s no kitchen, and the trek down to the village makes it hard to justify leaving for meals, but the food on site is absolutely unreal. There’s a set dinner menu each night, always vegetarian, and a few different breakfast and lunch options to choose from. We ate most of our meals here, ranging from pesto pasta to stuffed peppers to veggie burgers.

I heard a lot of people rave about the food at Casa Elemento, the more well-known hostel in town, but when we visited we were very unimpressed. Casa Loma is the place to be for fine dining (although admittedly, it has very few Colombian influences.

Didn’t photograph the food, but here’s a picture of alcohol. #priorities

Now, the sunset. Casa Loma has a specially built little terrace with seating and a dedicated bar, right in front of the perfect spot to view the sunset. We went up here both nights, taking advantage of the Happy Hour specials for some mojitos and chatting with everyone around us. This is where we met Anne, our German friend I talked about in this post. 

I slept incredibly well in both our cabana and the dorm we moved to the next day. I thought I’d be afraid that the jungle was so close, and we did find a few big spiders, but the mosquito nets made me feel quite secure. In our dorm I slept on a third-level platform, with nothing separating me from a view straight into the trees. It was amazingly peaceful, and there’s  nothing like the feeling of waking up in the midst of nature.

Las Cascadas Marinka

There were a ton of hikes I wanted to do here, but alas – the draw of wifi-less relaxation proved too strong. And also, I’m lazy. But let’s just say it’s because of Theresa’s ankle.

Anyway, we DID make it up to a certain gorgeous waterfall on our way to Casa Elemento, and it was so worth the hot and sweaty walk through the jungle. Whilst trying to breathe, we talked about all of our future dreams and schemes…opening a hostel, becoming travel writers, marrying hippies and raising our kids on the beaches of Central America…you know, the usual.

We paid a local family around 4,000COP to get in, while giggling at how cute the little boy was. There’s a little cafe with snacks and the CUTEST PUPPIES OF ALL TIME. I actually almost cried while looking at this precious little baby.

But of course, the main attraction is the waterfall itself! It’s just the most amazing setting, with the jungle all around, very few tourists to be seen, and the calming noise of the water rushing down. The water is freezing, but we were so hot from our hike that it was pretty darn refreshing. We had a little GoPro photoshoot, swam around a bit and then got out, our teeth chattering.

And then, we were off to Casa Elemento to see the most hippies I have ever seen in one place. More on that in my next post!

Colombian Football Fans are Terrifying and Amazing

In my first post about my amazing trip to Colombia, I promised a story about tear gas – and here it comes! There’s also another story in here about the worst bus ride in the entire history of bus rides.

While I was wandering around Medellin, my friend Theresa was industriously making plans for our evening. The plan was to go to a soccer game (sorry, I guess it’s called football) with a group of Aussie boys that Theresa knew from her time in Nicaragua. I am absolutely not a sports fan, but a lot of articles I read talked about how totally insane and cool football games in South America are.

The Football Game

Insane: yep. That’s the word for it. I’ve never experienced such fervor for sports, or even anything close. So apparently the game we were going to was special: Medellin itself has two teams, and they were playing eachother in their shared stadium. The rivalry is so intense that at each game like this one, only fans of one team are allowed to attend. There’s also no alcohol served.

These games are also notorious for being insanely dangerous, despite the limits on who can come. Partway through the game our friends started telling us stories about people bringing machetes, SWAT teams coming out, etc, and we dismissed them as tall tales. That is, until we looked down and saw a SWAT team. Ah.

Regardless of our newfound concerns, the atmosphere of the game was just absolutely mesmerizing. There’s one particularly enthusiastic section, which takes up about a third of the arena, and for the entire game they were on their feet singing, chanting and jumping. They bring their own marching band. They have so many flags.

I’ve never seen anybody with so much energy, nor do I understand how they all remember the words to so many songs.

But there was another section of fans, right below where we were sitting: we referred to them as the hooligans. They seemed to be  young and slightly more insane than the rest of the fans, with weirdly disturbing flags and just a strange, charged atmosphere. That’s where the SWAT team was standing.

After the Game

As soon as the game ended, despite the fact that the team that everybody was supporting won, this section started freaking out. The SWAT team surrounded the hooligans, who began to throw chairs and beat eachother with metal rods. THAT was fun.

I’ve never been so thankful to be with a bunch of tall Aussie guys, rather than alone with another small female friend. We hurried away, simultaneously desperate to leave and intrigued by the scene. Then we watched people start to cough and hack, before beginning to do so a little bit ourselves. “Is that tear gas??” Yep it was!! Awesome… Throwing our intrigue to the side, we focused on the hurrying out.

The Bus Ride

I could write a legitimate novel about this bus ride because I have so much to say and so much rage within me. Theresa, our new German friend Anne and I were on our way to Cartagena. From Minca, we took a colectivo to Santa Marta and got out as close to the bus station as we could. There, we asked somebody where we could catch a bus to Cartagena and we were ushered to a minibus – I think the company was Flamingo.

The first half was fine – I slept, read, listened to music and watched the world go by. The weirdest part was when I looked out of my window just as we were going onto a bridge and saw a bunch of guys wearing terrifying animal masks, or balaclavas – and holding baseball bats. They were right up by our windows and it was jarring, but nothing happened – we just drove on by. Still no idea what that was all about.

The three of us were very close after our awful experience on the bus.

Then, the fun started. We got to Barranquilla and stopped to drop off and collect people – and we moved to some of the single seats to have more space. Worst choice ever. Around 12 young-ish guys wearing football jerseys got on, and immediately surrounded us and started yelling.

The next three hours were completely awful. They screamed, constantly took shots of liquor, snorted cocaine directly out of a baggy, and were generally obnoxious. But that wasn’t the worst part. We pretended not to understand Spanish so they’d hopefully ignore us, but we understood every disgusting thing they said about and to us.

We immediately jumped in the pool when we got off this bus and into our hostel.

The guy next to me tried to borrow my water, groping my leg in an attempt to “ask me a question”. He offered me cocaine and alcohol multiple times and was sitting so close to me that I was pressed up against the window, holding in tears and playing my music as loudly as possible in an attempt to drown out the disgusting things coming out of his mouth.

I have been angry before, and I have been anxious before, but I have never felt so much rage and to be honest, so much fear. It was a very unsettling experience, and I don’t believe we were in any real danger – the bus attendants were watching the situation and you could tell they felt bad for us and would step in if necessary. But still – it really, really sucked.

I bet these guys were the hooligan fans.


I just want to make it clear that despite these two experiences, I have zero regrets about my trip to Colombia. I wish neither of these things had happened, but I made it through by being smart and taking precautions, and they have no impact on how fondly I remember my first trip to South America.


Practical Info

You can buy tickets to a football match at the stadium which is fairly central in Medellin. We paid 40,000 COP but you can get them for cheaper. Don’t take anything valuable and I probably wouldn’t go alone.

Alone in the Most Dangerous Neighborhood in Medellin

Colombia. When I told travellers my age I was going here, they couldn’t stop singing its praises, telling me how much it has to offer. When I told anybody in my family, or any of my older coworkers, they first confirmed that I did, in fact, mean the Colombia in South America, and then asked why in God’s name I was going there.

To be fair, this could be a function of younger people taking more risks and being arguably more stupid, but I don’t think so. My grandparents and parents grew up watching Colombia’s tumultuous and violent past, while to me it’s just that: the past.

While in Medellin, I put myself in some slightly unnerving situations, but I never truly felt threatened – except by the tear gas, and on the worst bus ride of my life, which wasn’t even technically in Medellin, and I’ll get to those in my next post. From arrival to departure, I fell totally in love with this city that used to be a terrifying place.

Arriving in Medellin

I arrived here after a full day of flights, transiting through Mexico City – exhausted from several weeks of flying back and forth around the East Coast for work and then for a family emergency. I didn’t feel prepared or ready and was even having trouble feeling excited: despite the fact that I was about to land on my sixth continent!

But the moment I got myself into Medellin, all that went away. A guy from my hostel (Happy Buddha, 10/10 would recommend) picked me up and I got to practice my very rusty Spanish right away, chatting about everything I could figure out how to say.

And when we got to the neighborhood my hostel was in and I ran up to meet a close friend from university, I was completely taken aback. I stayed in El Poblado, which is definitely a backpacker hub, and if you had just plopped me down there, I would have had no idea what continent it was even on. It reminded me of Florida, Montreal, Europe, and Japan all at once. I’d later discover that its cafes and restaurants were some of the most beautifully designed I’d ever seen, but on my first night – it was all about the bars.

I arrived around midnight, and given the crowds of young backpackers with awesome accents milling all over the entire neighborhood, I needed to get myself a beer. Theresa and I proceeded to party the night away with fellow backpackers from all over the world – but mostly Australia.

I have no recollection of these guys’ names or why we are posed so awkwardly.

Santo Domingo

The next day, already in love with Medellin, it was time for me to go out sightseeing. Theresa had already checked out the places I wanted to see, so I was on my own – and with a bit of trepidation I took one of the city’s famous cable cars up to a neighborhood called Santo Domingo.

As you probably know from the Netflix show Narcos or from, like, reading the news, Medellin used to be home to Pablo Escobar, and was therefore one of the most dangerous cities on earth for quite a while.

This neighborhood was one of the hubs of murder and fear. So what did I do? Hopped on a cable car to go wander around alone, dressed about as much like a backpacker as I ever have. (Elephant pants anyone?) The cable cars were built to connect the poorer neighborhoods to the city centre, in an awesome example of urban planning.

And how was it? Awesome. I walked around completely unbothered, with children coming up to me to say hi, local women smiling shyly at me, and only a few of the ubiquitous Latin American hisses from the men. It was the most fantastic insight into local culture I’ve ever gotten – I didn’t see another tourist!

Colombian foods I couldn’t even identify were sizzling on portable grills everywhere, their hawkers yelling incomprehensible slang. More fruit than I’d ever seen for sale, beautiful Colombian children tugging their mothers’ dresses in search of some pesos to buy some. Stray dogs wandering everywhere, peacefully and unmolested. I didn’t take pictures of these street scenes, because that felt very intrusive.

I even walked up a sketchy set of stairs, seeking a viewpoint Theresa had told me about and found a group of children playing hopscotch – turns out it’s a universal game, and it’s even cuter in Spanish.

My purpose in coming up to Santo Domingo was that viewpoint – but I couldn’t find it, and decided I had already gotten enough out of my visit. I went for the Instagram, but I left with what felt like an insight into the strength and happiness of Colombian people – something that would just keep happening, all throughout the country.


PRACTICAL INFO:

Take the very safe and clean metro to Acevedo, and transfer (for free) to the cable car. Get off at Santo Domingo, and don’t take any valuables.