Colombia: Life After Cocaine

 

Mulero in Cocora Valley

Discover Colombia All Over Again.

It’s unfortunate that Colombia made its name internationally thanks to its most addictive export – and no, we’re not talking about coffee here.

No amount of advertising featuring Juan Valdez, the country’s friendly coffee icon can dispel the lingering reputation of this country as a global drug supplier – a fact that resulted in political instability and corruption, from dangerous internal factions fighting for control within the country.

But don’t let Colombia’s past frighten you off from being part of its future – in fact, there’s no better time to rediscover it than now.

The political situation has stabilized over the past 10 years, with a government intent on eradicating the kind of guerrilla terrorism that characterized its past – and today travel is safe almost everywhere. (Unless you have a fear of driving on winding highways snaking through incredibly beautiful valleys, a good portion of which describes the country.)

Big, beautiful, and diverse geographically, Colombia is equally rich in culture – as yet untainted by mass tourism of the North American variety. With the possible exception of Cartagena, where cruise ship stopovers flood the historic sites with daily visitors, and moneyed residents inhabit dozens of new condominium towers in ‘Mini Miami’, most of Colombia speaks little English and retains its authenticity. Even in pretty tourist towns like Salento, Barichara, or Villa de Leyva, the visitors are Spanish-speaking from neighbouring cities or countries in South America. As an added bonus, the relative cost of travelling here is still low from a North American perspective.

What makes Colombia even more interesting is its people; white, black and indigenous, the population of the country is as diverse and beautiful as the geography; from Amerindian groups that inhabit remote Amazon jungle villages or high altitude plateaus to the Afro-Caribbean legacy of slavery on the coasts to the Spanish/Amerindian ‘mestizos’ who represent almost 90% of the population.

Whether it’s adventure, history or culture you are seeking, put Colombia on your list – for all the right reasons.

TIP: Colombia’s roads snake through mountains, and are shared by both commercial and personal vehicles, adding hours onto trips that appear to be otherwise manageable distances – making flying a much more efficient alternative to driving (also because the country is so large and the costs of the flights are reasonable.)

 


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