Colombia – a risky destination (? or !)

The butchers of Cartagena, Colombia

Do you like your life the way it is? If you do… DON’T GO TO COLOMBIA. Stay as far away from the old city of Cartagena as you can. Don’t come close to incredible nature reserve of Tyrona, the salsa capital of Cali or the eternal spring in Medellin. Just stay away. I am NOT joking! The commercial from the Colombian Tourism Agency is not a commercial at all. It is a serious and truthful warning to you as a traveler; if you go to Colombia, the only risk you take, is wanting to stay.

The fish marked of Cartagena, Colombia

I don’t know if they put something in the water, but you feel it a soon as you arrive. There is something different going on there. People are not the same as other places you have been. They are neither overly servile… nor hostile to foreigners. They respect you as an equal, if your respect them back. They’d like to talk to you, if you like to talk to them. Give anyone a smile on the street and chances are, you will get one back. They will show you the true meaning of the word party if you put your trust in them, and you don’t need drugs to have the time of your life in Colombia.

Markedet i Cartagena, Colombia

This is the tragic irony in the fate of the Colombian people. They are stigmatized as drug dealers, guerillas and murderers. But the reality is very different. The majority of Colombians are friendly, welcoming, hardworking and honest.

Man working in the fish marked in Cartagena, Colombia

Yesterday I met a fellow traveler in Bogota. He came to Colombia 12 years ago. When he exited the airport he must have looked confused, because a man asked him if he needed any help. He said he needed to withdraw some money from the ATM. The man walked him to the ATM, said good bye and left… This is the true Colombia.

Kids in Isla Rosarios, Colombia

Don’t get me wrong… Not all is well in Colombia. You only have to watch the news to see that, but there is a bigger picture that the 20 second news piece cannot and will not capture. Colombian cities are as safe as any other Latin-American city, and in some cases even safer, like Cartagena de Indias. Regular safety precautions do apply in Colombia, as any other place on earth, but as long as you use your brain and stay on the beaten track (although Colombia is off the beaten track), Colombia is the most fantastic country you can visit.

Cafe in Cartagena, Colombia

PS. Run into a Colombian, in and outside of Colombia… They do not appreciate the drug references.

 

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