Day 182, Tayrona: Don't miss this Colombian treasure, it is so awesome that even Shakira sings about in her new hit.
As sings Shakira in her new song Bicicleta "Que si a Pique algún día le muestras el Tayrona, después no querrá irse pa Barcelona", when you are in Tayrona, you are in heaven and don't want to leave.
Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona is Colombia's treasure, one of the country's most popular national parks. In a jungle, by the mountains and the sea, the park covers some 12,000 hectares of land and 3000 hectares of sea. The scenery varies from lovely sandy beaches to rainforest and hills, at an altitude of 900 m at the highest point. The area was once the home of the Tayrona tribes and is now an important touristic attraction. The gorgeous beaches are bays surrounded by mountains and coconut palms. However, due to strong currents it is not safe to swim on all of them, and please take the warnings seriously. The prettiest, safest and most popular beach is called Cabo san Juan de la Guía, and that is where me, H and V headed as well for our Tayrona trip.
Hola! I am back from my travels, happy but exhausted. I'm taking some time to post everything, as I warned you. Also, since I'm leaving Cartagena in only a week, I surprisingly have other priorities than writing my blog... However, the sun is shining and I'm writing this post by the swimming pool so things could be worse. I'm keeping a 15 min writing, 15 min swimming/tanning rhythm, we'll see how it goes. I'm doing my best and instead of writing long stories will let you enjoy a great collection of pictures from all over the Caribbean Coast of Colombia. Now let's start with Minca, one of my absolute favourite places in Colombia, and well in the world.
I'm back in Cartagena and very very happy about it. Even better, S is back as well, and my Cali friends A, S and E came to visit. Perfection. I'm going traveling again starting from tomorrow, thus these have been my almost last days in Cartagena. That is of course why time runs and days just pass by. I don't sleep enough because I'm somewhere all the time and before I notice it is already past midnight. But I'm really making the most of the time I can spend with my friends in this beautiful city. Too soon it will be over and even if I'm a little bit excited about returning to Paris, leaving also feels impossible. But let's not think about that yet, but just enjoy. Here are some pictures from these past days.
Well I haven't yet seen that many others but I definitely understand why Guatapé makes it to almost every "Top places to visit in Colombia" - list, that I could find on the internet. Ever since I spent three wonderful days in Trinidad, Cuba, in January, and fell in love with its beauty, atmosphere and friendliness of people, I compare every small town I go to with Trinidad. And it's hard to beat, I don't know if any other cute little village ever will. However, Guatapé came close and even if its a lot smaller, in many ways it reminded me of Trinidad. So I couldn't have felt happier spending a day there.
Day 174, Medellin: Learning about Pablo Escobar, and more - my top 4 things to do in the city of eternal spring.
Medellín is Colombia's second largest city and the capital of the Antioquia region. It is located in a valley and surrounded by the Andes mountains. Medellín is called the "city of Eternal Spring", since the weather is very pleasant all year long (average temperature 22°C). Some 20 years ago Medellin was ranked the most dangerous city in the world, but has gone trough an impressive transformation since, being now one of the safest big cities in South America. It is an industrial and commercial centre for the region, a modern city that in 2013 won the title of the world's most innovative city (WSJ ranking). I had heard a lot about Medellín and was very excited about traveling here. When people ask me if I would like to live permanently in Colombia I used to say that no, I don't think so, but if I did I would live in Medellín. And this without ever having visited the city.
My first impressions are mixed: yes I like it, but I don't really understand what all that buzz is about. I have changed my mind. If I wanted to live in Colombia, I would live in... Cartagena! However, I spent a nice few days there, strolling around and discovering some of the most popular touristic spots. Medellín has its charms and is definitely a place worth seeing when in Colombia.
I am on holidays now, and it feels great even if I already miss work, La Boquilla and the La Vecina kids. Time really flies by, I have only one month left in Colombia and I intend to make the most of it. Only one month left by the Caribbean Sea also means that I just have to spend as much time as possible on the beach and in the waves. Thus, on Friday we decided with my friend K to hop on a bus and go explore a nearby town called Manzanillo del Mar, where our friend A lives. Manzanillo is a very small town and there is not much to do - other than spend time at the beach. But that worked perfectly for us. Then on Saturday I finally made the trip I had planned for a long time, I stayed one night at the beautiful beach of Playa Blanca, a 1-hour bus ride outside Cartagena. For some reason I had slept really bad the whole week and really needed to take a rest. Also, the last days at work were emotionally very hard and I really wanted to get out from Cartagena, be alone, clear my head and stop crying about having to leave La Vecina and my little loved ones. Sunbathing, sea breeze, crystal-clear water and walks along the beach did the job: I slept well and didn't think of anything. Now I have regained some energy and am ready to travel to Medellin tomorrow!
Time flies by and on Thursday it was time for me to say goodbye to Fundación La Vecina, the most adorable kids, and the whole community I have grown to love and think of as a family. My 4-month Experteering mission was everything I hoped for, and more. I got to know a whole new world in La Boquilla, discover the Education field, participate in and manage many interesting projects and challenge myself as a teacher. Working with Colombians was an other experience, in good and bad. Mostly, however, I remember everyone I collaborated with being extremely friendly and welcoming.
A few weeks ago I wrote a story for Moving Worlds, the organisation through which I found this project with La Vecina in Cartagena. It got a bit shorten in the end but I still think it sums up quite well my thoughts about these past months, you can take a look at my post on their blog here. Thanks guys for inviting me to join your team as a guest blogger!
As I mentioned in the other post from this weekend, there are two main things to do in Cali: dance salsa and eat. In addition to salsa classes, my hostel also organises (almost) daily street food tours and I really wanted to go on one because I had heard it is great. But I was unlucky, there were no tours on Sundays, nor this Monday because it was a public holiday. No worries though, I googled a little bit for places to go and things to eat, and decided to do a tour on my own. I got company of my new friend, S from Switzerland, and together we took a map and started walking towards our destination: Mercado La Galeria Alameda in downtown Cali.
I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 22... That is exactly how I felt in Cali: young, care-free and having so much fun that I'm still smiling at the memories.
Cali, the capital of Valle del Cauca region and Colombia's third biggest city, is a lot of things. It is famous for its salsa culture and called "capital de la rumba", thus the best place in Colombia to party. It has its unique gastronomic traditions, and the next best thing to do in Cali after dancing is eating. Also, Cali is currently ranked the 10th most dangerous city in the world, but luckily I didn't even notice it. In many ways, Cali was an interesting city to see. However, people always make the place, and why I spent such wonderful three days in Cali is because of the great people, "Calenos" and other travellers, that I met.
I'm Emilia, Finnish-Parisian, a recent Master's graduate. I'm currently traveling around the Caribbean and on a volunteering mission in Colombia. I'm passionate about writing, music and different kinds of sports. I can't wait to discover new places and cultures - and share my adventures with you!