15 de Enero 2016
sat in a Wellington cafe, New Zealand
Colombia!!! At one point listed the most dangerous country in world, it is now a favorite for most backpackers and a must see if you’re traveling nearby.
Sadly Ryan and I only had 3.5 weeks to tour the country, but we traversed from the salsa capital of the world to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, and we left wanting more. Many told us to get out of Bogota as soon as you arrive, but we always love the cities others dislike and we chose to book three nights in a private room via Airbnb.
And for the next three days we barely left the room.
Reason one: it never stopped raining. Each time we’d take off to explore the city we’d come home dripping wet.
Reason two: Ryan got sick. Very sick. The second night he curled up covered in blankets and shook uncontrollably as his body reached terrifying fever spikes. In the morning I ran to the pharmacy buying up anything that could help. That day we spent in bed watching Netflix and planning our tour around the country and that night Ryan felt worse. I honestly didn’t sleep scared for his weak state, searching for a hospital we could bring him to as soon as the morning came.
This is a memory I’d never forget. Swamped with people in every place possible, we followed the factory-like order moving from station to station and waiting longer and longer. My Spanish couldn’t figure out where they wanted us to go and finally an English-speaking doctor arrived. He didn’t think his symptoms were very serious, but he wanted to run a few tests. Then we waited again. This time where patients laid on their hospital beds with IVs digging in the arm with no place to go. It was a madhouse. Cleaner and much less horrific than the one I visited in the Philippines, but after many hours Ryan could not take it anymore and he wanted out. After more confusion and a minimal fee we walked out those doors and straight into the nearest pharmacy. Immediately he was offered antibiotics. Although this is illegal without a doctor’s note it’s not rare to find a pharmacy in foreign countries to bend the rules. We climbed back in bed awaiting our overnight bus to Cali where we would stay with Ryan’s family friend, Victor.
Thankfully Ryan began to feel better and we spent the next day exploring Cali with Victor.
[sipping fresh cane sugar juice in Cali’s busy sidewalk market]
[always holding puppies]
[Dinner at Victor’s with fresh lulo juice – I miss it so much]
Victor had opened his home to us and treated us like family. Everything was wonderful.
Then it hit me. The same symptoms Ryan experienced hit me like a brick and left me crying for my mom. I’ve never felt my body uncontrollably shake like that. I begged for more blankets as my teeth chattered, but Ryan refused because my body was almost too hot to touch.
In the morning Victor brought me to his local pharmacist for antibiotics. Instead of pills they recommended an injection for a quicker recovery. And where can you guess they wanted to inject me? Yea. My ass. I laid on a table behind a Mickey Mouse sheet as she stuck me not once but twice in the buttocks hitting a nerve that made me yelp, oh the joys of international medicine.
But to be fair it worked.
One hot day we drove up to his family’s home in the countryside. A lovely little hacienda built for long weekend family holidays with a beautiful pool looking over the rolling hills. It was just the relaxation we both needed.
[Victor’s family’s hacienda en el campo]
On the last night his Mama took us all out for a big meal and we chatted away in half Spanish half English. She even gave us gifts and wished us well for the rest of our trip, bless her.
We graciously thanked Victor for the incredible hospitality and hopped on a bus for Salento, a small, picturesque town in Colombia’s main coffee region.
The eco-hostel we booked sat a bit outside of town, but we trudged on with our backpacks taking in the beautiful surroundings. We arrived just as the sun began to set and ran up the hostel’s hill to watch while we swung in hammocks.
[cows welcoming us to Salento]
[sunset from the hammocks]
The next day we rented a motorcycle [for the first time on the trip] and spent the day visiting Valle Del Cocora, a Jurassic-like park, and getting lost on winding roads through coffee plantations. We could have trekked in the park or taken a proper coffee tour, but we just wanted to ride. I gave it a go for a bit before returning it at dusk. Then it was back to the local bus stop to head into the next town for our overnight ride to Medellin. If time wasn’t a question, we could have easily been stuck in Salento for a few days and here’s why…
[Valle Del Cocora]
[Fresh Colombian coffee with a view? Yes please.]
[Coffee cafe view]
[Ryan once again taking selfies with cute animals]
Cheers, thanks for reading!
Next blog post: random drug searches by corrupt cops in Pablo Escobar’s hometown and getting beachy on my first ever trip to the Caribbean.
With love from me and the cutest, craziest pup of Cali