November 26th - December 3rd, 2011: Colombia

I boarded a plane in Santa Barbara, still coping with a Turkey-day food hangover. That plane took me to LA, where I boarded a plane for Houston. Plane 3 took me to Bogota, where I found a set of wings bound for the coastal city of Santa Marta to start the Colombia adventure.

In Colombia I met up with Elena, of Swiss Ski Adventure fame. We had planned a multi-day trek into Ciudad Perdida. Well, that didn't really happen. At all. Luckily, Colombia is an incredible country with plenty to offer beyond ancient lost cities buried in the mountains.

Santa Marta: Welcome to the Coast

The journey started in Santa Marta, a sprawling metropolis on the foot of the Sierra Nevada. You know, the small coastal range with peaks over 5,000 meters. What?!?! It's true. Colombia secretly has this epic mountain range on the edge of the Caribbean. Mountains and beaches. Beaches and mountains. Not a bad combination.

This is the view of Santa Marta. From the airport!
Sunday morning services in the open air.
Nearby Parque Tayrona is not to be missed.
Minca: Birds & Coffee

Minca sits in the Sierra Nevada, overlooking Santa Marta and reachable via collectivo (shared taxi/truck). This region was certainly of the dangerous reputation ten or so years ago, but now it is frequented by tourists looking to see the coffee plantations in action and hoping to catch view of a bird or two. I was looking forward to fresh air and found it plentiful, even if it rained most of the time I was there.

Shelling coffee beans.
Mountain Dark, City Light
Black and White Striped Owl

 Cartagena: History on Display

Cartagena is awesome. No questions. It served as the main port of Europeans throughout the 1400s-1500s, resulting in epic fortresses and beautiful colonial architecture. The historic downtown can be walked for hours, with wanderers constantly finding themselves back in the same place they have just come from, not sure how they got there or where they are going. It's somewhat magical. After three days exploring the historic center, I began to feel like I could navigate the area around my hotel.

Don't mess.
Some things are bigger in Colombia.
Elena takes in the sunset from a wall-top bar.
This is real. Really.
Bogota: Holiday Fever

I had all of seven hours to explore Bogota. Though not enough to see it all, it was enough to convince me that Bogota is a city worth visiting: great museums, unique topography, funky neighborhoods, and an incredible Holiday Spirit.

Horse-drawn Newlyweds

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