A few months ago I posted a piece about how I was struggling to leave a lot of the locations I've been visiting on my trip so far. I spent over two months in Mexico, well over a week on an island in Belize (doing nothing) and over a month in Guatemala. My thought was always, if I'm having fun what harm can it do to stay a little longer.
Now though, it is starting to catch up with me. Arriving in Colombia in late April it dawned on me that I had only about 100 days left of my trip and my original plan was to see all of South America.
That plan is now out of the window.
Taking just under five months to get from Mexico to Colombia, it is obvious that I no longer have enough time to see all (or even most) of the continent, so I'm now having to speed up just to be able to pack a few countries in before the FIFA World Cup starts in a few weeks time and everything is all about football.
The first casualty of the cutbacks has been Colombia. I'd originally intended to spend close to two months in the country, however with my new timeline, I've just left after less than three weeks and I really didn't want to leave.
Colombia is a place I could see myself spending a lot of time in. Unfortunately, many people can only think of the negative parts of Colombia's history, but it is a country with so much to offer.
With colonial cities, beautiful beaches, ancient ruins and lush jungles, Colombia has endless places to visit to see some amazing scenery.
Arriving in the beautiful colonial port town of Cartagena, I was blown away by the beauty of the old town. While I've been to many colonial cities on my trip so far, the fortified city walls and many beautiful churches in Cartagena are certainly a stand out. The landscapes and beaches of nearby Parque Tayrona were equally beautiful.
Enjoying a Colombian coffee
For all of the scenery and landscapes of Colombia, there are other things that make it stand out as a location to visit. Colombia is known for two things that are on the extremes of my personal spectrum of liking. One being coffee and the other (salsa) dancing. Anyone who knows me at all knows which is which.
Visiting a coffee farm in the picturesque town of Salento I was able to see where the entire process of how the drug I love gets from plant to cup – and more importantly drink copious amounts coffee.
Dancing, on the other hand is something I've never been fond of. While 99.99% of the world enjoy shaking it on the dance floor of a weekend (or at least pretend they do for social reasons) I've never been a fan. Many friends have often told me I don't enjoy it because I've never found the right motivation. it turns out they might be right – the right motivation appears to be Colombian women. The club scene in Colombia – from Medellin to Bogota to the salsa capital of Cali – is all about dancing, but unlike anywhere else in the world, I had fun doing it. The locals love to party and enjoy partying with travellers – which makes for a great combination.
Salsa in Cali
Which brings me to the best part about Colombia – the people. I've written previously about how the people in Burma and Mexico are some of the friendliest in the world, but I think its time to add Colombia to that list. The locals there genuinely seem interested in your journey, and are so eager to help out or just have a chat.
This has all made it quite difficult to spend such a short time in Colombia, and my next destination, Peru.
On the other hand, it may just mean I'll have to come back to South America again soon - and with the Olympic Games in Rio in two years time, it may well be a good chance to take the Long Road to Rio once more.