I didn’t have to be alone last month because I had Dutch visitors! Two very good friends visited me for almost a month in Colombia and we’ve done and seen lots of things in that month. We visited museums, did a coffee tour, hiked, cycled, swam, played carts or pool at night. We were never bored and the time went by really fast. Here are my experiences. In the meantime, they’ve returned to the Netherlands and I’m on the road again. Unfortunately, the camera that I was using officially stopped working. I went to an official Sony service center where men in white lab coats were investigating my camera, so it looked legit 😊. They concluded that repairing the camera was more expensive than buying a new one, so it’s like total-loss. So for now I can only share the photos that I took with my camera. I might buy a Go Pro or a Chinese copy soon because I would like to continue to document everything well.
I don’t take it for granted that Tom and Nina fly half the world to travel together for a while, so I wanted to receive them well. I booked a nice hotel in Bogotá for the first days and I bought some food (Dutch Gouda Cheese!) and drinks. They landed on a Tuesday night and it seemed to take hours before they passed through the inefficient airport processes. It was really strange to see them again after such a long time, but it felt similar to the moment when my parents met me in Mexico. It felt really comfortable and as if I’d never missed them.
Tom & Nina boarding boarding the train in my hometown
Tom and Nina didn’t come emptyhanded, they brought an entire suitcase for me. I had used the opportunity well to get some European bicycle supplies of stuff that are hard to get here. Apart from the bicycle supplies, the suitcase was also filled with typical Dutch food and lots of Heineken. To top it off, they brought me a new harmonica and gifted me a new T-shirt from the Dutch football team I support, Feyenoord.
We stayed in Bogotá for the first couple of days, an immensely big capital that never seemed to end. The entire valley is full. We took a cable car up the mountain to a viewpoint to oversee this metropole. Very impressive.
After a few days in Bogotá, we all felt like it was ready to continue. We’re not a big fan of big crowdy cities and the three of us prefer tiny little villages. We decided to go to the coffee region of the country and visited the little towns of Salento and Filandia. You must have heard of it if you’ve been to Colombia. We did a couple of hikes and visited a coffee farm.
It might have been a muddy road...
... The views made it all worth it
Colombia's national tree in the Cocora valley
A crystal clear image of the coffee farm
After the coffee region, we continued towards Medellín. Some decades ago, it was one of the most violent ciites in the world, but it’s making a positive comeback. We did a two-day trip to the small colorful town of Guatapé.
Guatapé is known as a colorful city
And is also right next to this giant rock that we've climbed
I had good contact with the receptionist of the hotel we were staying in Medellin, so I could leave my bicycle and stuff behind during this trip. The receptionist was an Argentinian guy who is traveling as a musician through South-America. To sustain himself, he makes some extra money with his job as a receptionist. He rents an apartment in a high building and he invited us over to his place. He would make pizza with some of his friends. We had a nice evening together. Later that evening, Tom and I took the elevator to the top of the building to check if we could enter the roof. To our surprise, the door to the roof was not locked so we could easily enter the roof. We climbed another ladder to get to the highest point of the building and to give ourselves a panoramic view of Medellin’s skyline at night. A spectacular view! Sorry for the low picture quality.
We also took a day to visit Medellin’s historic centre. All three of us were disappointed by the centre, with many poorly maintained buildings, dirty streets and a lot of poverty. For us, the highlight (literally) was taking a cable car to the top of the city. Some neighborhoods in Medellin are located on steep parts of the mountain that borders Medellin. In the past, its inhabitants had to walk for hours to reach the city center because it was impossible to start a profitable bus connection. To tackle this problem and to increase the city’s mobility, the government decided to construct a cable car to the highest and most isolated parts of the city. A brilliant idea! It was the first public transport cable car in the world.
View from the cable car
We didn’t really know what to do after Medellin. The weather in the coffee region had not been great, so we decided to go to the certain sunshine and fly to the northern coast. We flew to Santa Marta, the city where I cycled through a month earlier. We flew with the Colombian version of Ryanair (Viva Air) and were obviously charged extra for some bullshit things. Part of the unsustainable business model I guess….
Our flight to the north also gave us the possibility to go to Cartagena, the nice colonial town where I arrived with the sailboat a month earlier. From Santa Marta, we visited a small beach town (Palomino) where we enjoyed the good weather for a couple of days. From there we travelled back to Cartagena via Minca.
My new shirt
Then we flew back to Medellín where I had stored my bicycle (in another hotel). We had travelled a lot in our first weeks, so we agreed to settle down in one place for the last part of their visit. We went back to Filandia, the small village in the coffee region and relaxed there for a couple of days. We arrived at the start of a national holiday (holy week) and we were lucky to eventually find a room for the week.
We had been talking a couple of times about the option to hire a bicycle to do a little trip. I thought it woud be a cool idea to share the feeling of cycling in this area. We postponed that option until the very last day, also due to our laziness of arranging bicycles for Tom and Nina. We hired two mountain bikes and I had found a nice small route that was not too hard. The first part was simple, 8 kilometers downhill. We still deserved icecream, though. Cycling back uphill was much tougher and quite the challenge for Tom and Nina.
A well-deserved break
I guess that all things must pass, and after a month it was already time for my friends to go back to the Netherlands. I found it a bit difficult to say goodbye, but at the same time I got used to being alone quickly again. I left the next day, heading South as always.
A rare picture of the three of us
Guess who the undisputed winner of our pool games was?