GOLD, SEA & BLOOD
Favorite thing: The tri-color was adopted in 1863 with the yellow taking up the top 50% of the flag while the the blue and red shared the remaining 50%. The yellow represents the gold that was discovered throughout the country, the blue indicates the ocean while the red represents the blood that was lost in the country's fight for independence. Francisco De Miranda was the person who originally created of the flag of Gran Colombia (in the late 18th century) that Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela share with slight variations. He was inspired by the German Goethe who stated that "Your destiny is to create in your land a place where primary colours are not distorted.” The flag is one of the oldest in the world.
Flowers of Colombia
Favorite thing: I love flowers! I seldom pick them. I like taking photos of them and smelling them. Flowers are the smiles of Nature!
Colombia is privileged with a mild climate that favours the growth of beautiful colourful flowers many of which are also seen in the Mediterranean parts, where I come from.
A morning glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books - Walt Whitman
If you have never been thrilled to the very edge of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, then maybe your soul has never been in bloom...- Audra Foveo
A flower- so delicate in form yet strong in fragrance, so small in size yet big in beauty, so short in life yet long on effect!- Adabella Radici
Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed the soul... - The Koran
The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks!!! - Tenessee williams
Pluck not the wayside flower; It is the travelers dower. - Willliam Allingham
View my Travelogue Flowers of ColombiaRelated to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Road Trip
Favorite thing: Born in April 1932 in Medellin, Fernando Botero is a Colombian neo-figurative artist who has won the first prize at the Salon de Artistas Colombianos in 1959. He has been a prolific painter and a sculptor. His sculptures are found in the main square of Medellin, as well as in many cities all over the world, and his paintings are displayed in many exhibitions .
It includes still-life and landscapes but his most famous element is the exaggerated proportions of his human figures and animals. He chooses to use these obese figures because he says beauty doesn't have a definite shape and that's what attracts him. He published his first illustrations at the age of 16, which helped to pay for his high school in Medellin. He later moved to France to study arts.
In 2005 he produced a series of 50 paintings representing the controversial Abu Graib incident, expressing the rage and shock he felt. This exhibition was presented in Rome, Germany and Greece and finally in New York City.
Today his “fat people” are known all over the world and he is considered unique in his kind.Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Arts and Culture
Sending Mail from Colombia
Favorite thing: If you want to mail a postcard, letter or package from Cartagena to the USA or anywhere else, the information in the LP Guidebook (edition 5) is incorrect. Surprisingly, the tourist information booth near Plaza de la Aduana gives out the same wrong information, i.e., Avianca / Deprisa on Av. Venezuela, Centro Edificio Citibank. I went there and they confirmed that they do not handle mail. Instead, mail service is handled by a private company called 4-72 La Red Postal de Colombia.
There are two 4-72 La Red Postal de Colombia in Cartagena whose location I found on their website http://www.4-72.com.co => Nuestras Oficinas. They are in Getsemani and La Matuna. The Getsemani address is the closest in walking distance (10 minutes) from the clock tower in the Centro. The 4-72 office is located at # 8B-173 in the Edificio Villa AnaMaria.
From the clock tower, walk across Avenida Blas de Lezo and past the Centro de Convenciones building on Paseo de los Mártires, turn right on Avenida del Mercado towards the water for two blocks when the road turns left (Calle del Arsenal). The 4-72 office is located on the left side a short distance down.
For a postcard to the USA, it cost COP$6,100 (US$3.30). At this office, the clerk gave me the stamps to moisten and apply to the postcard. In Bogotá and Medellin, the clerks took my money and the postcard so I never saw any stamp applied. Hopefully, the clerks didn't pocket my money and trash the postcards.
I was told it would take 20 days for delivery to the USA. Except for Argentina, I haven't had any past success with postcards mailed from South America so my confidence level is low, but I decided to "roll-the-dice."
With regards to postcards, except for Cartagena, they are getting harder to find. The ones that I did find were obviously old. So if you're going to Colombia, don't make any promises to friends or family that you'll send them a postcard. Worldwide, it seems as though the tradition of sending postcards has fallen victim of the Internet.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Study Abroad
- Budget Travel
Favorite thing: Barranquilla is Colombia's largest and most important port city, and the country's fourth-largest city in population after Bogota, Medellin, and Cali. The population of the metropolitan area is about 2,170,000. The city is located on the west bank of the Magdalena River, about five miles (eight kilometers) south of where the river empties into the Caribbean Sea.
Unlike most Colombian cities, Barranquilla was not founded during Spanish colonial times. Its official date of establishment is 1813 (at which time it was incorporated as a village) but the area had been settled since about 1629. During the 1800s, Barranquilla quickly grew to be the second-largest city in the country as a result of its port. Port facilities were constantly built and updated, and the mouth of the river was dredged to accommodate increasingly larger ships. The importance of the city's port facilities led to its nickname as the "Golden Gate of Colombia".
During the early 1900s, Barranquilla continued to grow, both economically and in population. Prior to the days of aviation, the city was the main point of entry into Colombia for visitors and immigrants who arrived by ship, including thousands of immigrants arriving from Europe after the First and Second world wars. Around this time, Barranquilla became a major transportation hub. Its airport, Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport, was built in 1919 and was the first airport in South America. And what is now Avianca was founded in the city, also in 1919, making it the second-oldest commercial airline in the world
Barranquilla's fortunes began to decline in the 1940s, and continues to some extent today. At that time, widespread corruption in the city led to a decrease in the standard of living, and more importantly, a decrease in government investment. Investments in other cities by the federal government helped the economies of Medellin and Cali grow, and they both surpassed Baranquilla in economic importance and population. Barranquilla's population declined to such an extent that it became the fourth most populous city in the country after having been the second largest for most of its history. Between the 1960s and 1980s, the city experienced another major economic decline after the failure of several large industrial companies that were based there.
During my visit, I found Barranquilla to be a very dirty city. Many of the neighborhoods, even in the downtown area, are run-down, the streets and sidewalks are cracked and broken, and trash and rubble is piled up in corners, at the side of many roads, and in vacant lots. I tried doing a little sightseeing, but there are few attractions in the city that would interest tourists. Even the Metropolitan Cathedral, where Pope John Paul II gave mass, is shuttered, covered in graffiti, and its stained-glass windows broken out.
stop we did to smell its wonderful fragrance
Fondest memory: The fifth day was the last one we would have to truly worry about. If we made it to Laguna de la Plaza, we were home free navigation-wise. The weather held up wonderfully and though we made it to the lake easily enough, walking around it to the camp was much more physically demanding than we had imagined. Again, we passed out at camp too late to really enjoy it but thankfully the next morning we were rewarded with a near mirror-like reflection of the backdrop peaks of this 4000m lake, surely a virtual rough sea normally. The walk out was blissfully easy and we decided to bypass the last lake camp when whipping winds nearly blew us up the exit valley, choosing to get a simple room in the refugio.
The rest of the trip around Colombia was a breeze after that. We both expressed wishes to go home then and there but we persevered to find a plethora of charming colonial towns in the trek's wake. These led to a gorgeous coastal area and a group trek through the mountain jungle to La Ciudad Perdida. The coffee region followed before more colonial towns exposed Colombia for what it was, one of the most varied, vibrant and probably economically viable countries in South America.
The truth was, we were not mentally ready for Colombia when we went. It was mostly done to ensure that the El Cocuy trek did not become another dream unfulfilled. With each passing town, area, we nodded in agreement that it was yet another great spot we were glad we hadn't missed. But somehow we never quite got a grip on just how great Colombia was until we had already returned home. I know in writing the many pages I have on the wonders of this great country that I have finally come to terms with it. Colombia will probably stand as the most successful trip in my travels around five of South America's countries. Everything we set out to do, we did. El Cocuy was a seed that grew and grew, and finally it was a flower that was not necessarily picked but stop we did to smell its wonderful fragrance.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
a sanity debate
Fondest memory: We debated the sanity of heading out but we had just done an acclimation hike to the first pass and it had gone very well so we figured we'd go to the first lake and see how we felt. We had enough food and fuel to last over a week so the worst case scenario saw us camping there or the next lake for a few days and returning the way we had come. Of course, the hike to the pass was considerably harder with our very full packs. We had never done such a long trek before so our load was heavier than anything we had ever carried. Still, we made it to the lake even if it took longer than we had hoped for. Wild horses even greeted as in the last valley before the lake shore appeared on the horizon.
The next day and pass were even harder but the lake and its camp an even greater reward. We were at a crossroads and we knew that to venture further would mean to complete the circuit rather than returning safely and surely as we had come. We pressed on and though that third day should have been an easy one, it was anything but and on reaching the third camp, we fell into an exhausted pile, barely able to set up camp and make dinner. The fourth day nearly broke us and we cut it short after finding the next pass to be a boulder strewn remain of an avalanche of some sort. It was really too early to stop hiking but we were spent and we played our last wild card by camping there. We now had maybe only one day of extra food and turning back was out of the question. We had been blessed with incredible weather thus far, having rarely seen a cloud let alone any rain. In an area noted for white-outs, fog and wind, we had mostly been worried about running out of sun screen. We just prayed our luck held out.(concluded below in Fondest Memory)Related to:
- National/State Park
was it real or was it Memorex?
Fondest memory: So, this time the trip was planned for the optimal weather, for the perfect season to trek in El Cocuy. The rest of Colombia would have to fall as it may. We trained for weeks in preparation and flew into Bogotá on New Year's Day. After a few days of acclimatizing there, we took a 15-hour bus ride to the small town of El Cocuy to further ready our lungs for the 4000m+ altitude we would find ourselves for the next couple weeks. We after all lived at sea-level and knew this was an especially crucial step for us. After we felt ready, we took the milk truck up to the refugio where we would start the trek, just as we had read about. As with many such things, it felt a bit like a dream. Was it real or was it Memorex, I wasn't really sure.
We set up camp at the refugio and planned another few days of acclimation day hikes. I met a ranger who spoke English and he further gave me confidence that we could in fact do the trek alone especially if we took the time to ready ourselves for the altitude we would be subjecting ourselves to. The very next day he told me that we had to cut our plans short as the park was going to be closed due to fire hazard. It was an unusually and evidently very dry “dry”season that year. Even we had to admit that the weather in the town of El Cocuy had been a lot nicer than we had anticipated. I had told him enthusiastically and passionately about my desire of doing the trek. He knew my story well and that to be denied the chance to do it at this point would not be fair. He knew also that the park would not be closed, just the backcountry where we were headed. He said he'd look the other way but that we had to go the next morning.(continued below in Fondest Memory)Related to:
- Road Trip
- National/State Park
the quest to meet those conditions faithfully
Fondest memory: In 2007, I started to make inroads towards doing the trek. I was in contact with a couple of guides and a few people I knew if only cursorily through the Internet had been to Colombia even if not in this particular area. So, I made contact with the guy who had written the book that had led me to El Cocuy in the first place. He admitted he had not been there in many years and that his knowledge was surely dated but still warned against doing it alone unless I was very experienced. Of this I wasn't really sure so I looked for a suitable guide but when he pushed me for a commitment and one for a much later date than I really wanted, I backed off. The weather which sounded awful at best would likely be even more so when he wanted me to go and I just figured the time was not right and went off to Ecuador instead.
In 2010, after a lot more trekking experience in both North and South America and with a move to Germany in my immediate future, Colombia was slipping from my fingertips. It didn't really make sense to go there right before the move but I knew that unless I did go then, it would likely never happen. So, the plan was hatched to go to Colombia for two months and though traveling around as much of the vast country as possible was planned, El Cocuy remained the focus for at least me. Oh yes, I had a wife now and though we had been together as a new unmarried couple as far back as 2002, we were now united in even stronger fashion and this trek would be something we would tackle together or not at all. I also happened upon someone online who knew quite a bit about El Cocuy, having trekked there numerous times and though he warned of horrid weather, the need for experience and being prepared, he also said it was something that could in fact be done without a guide if we met those conditions faithfully. (continued below in Fondest Memory)Related to:
- National/State Park
- Hiking and Walking
El Cocuy was not for the meek but so for me
Favorite thing: Colombia has something for everyone with one of the most varied terrains of any country and a charming collection of colonial towns and vibrant cities. As much as I love such things, it is generally nature that leaves the biggest impression on me. Even in this regard, Colombia is unfairly endowed with some of the world's most pristine beaches, jungles, and alpine areas. Having grown up near beach areas, I now find myself more drawn to the mountains and in Colombia, the greatest of them all are those in El Cocuy National Park. This is what drew me to Colombia and it is easily my favorite thing from a trip full of great memories.
Fondest memory: Colombia was an odd trip for me. I had a vision of it for many years before finally getting there after never really having any inclination to go there. Funny how things transpire and how a photo, a few choice words can plant a seed in your mind that grows and grows. South America as a continent was like that for me. After doing a fair amount of traveling and never thinking about heading to the “other side” of the Americas I saw a photo of Los Cuernos in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. Though I mistakenly thought they were the namesake “torres” or towers of that very park, the image of them drove me to Patagonia as surely as anything had driven me anywhere. Somehow when researching treks for Peru years later, I happened upon a glossy guide on such things for all of South America and in that guide was a brief description of a walk around the massif known as El Cocuy in Colombia. There were only a few photos and nothing like the ones I had seen of Los Cuernos with regard to quality. The description was not much better at painting a can't miss vista. No, this was more or less a case of a man talking about something that was not easy to attain. El Cocuy was not for the meek, not for the inexperienced, not for just anyone according to my narrator. It was just so for me even if some of the aforementioned characteristics applied to me or not. I wanted to do it badly and so the seed was planted. This was around 2002 and there was little else I could find about the trek. Colombia was opening up but even in a circle of fairly experienced travelers I didn't know anyone that had been. (continued below in Fondest Memory)Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- National/State Park
Favorite thing: The area that would eventually become Bogota was first settled by the local Muiscas Indians, and their settlement, called Bacatá, was the center of their civilization.
The Spanish, lured by gold, arrived in South America in the 1500s to establish colonies. In 1538, a Spanish settlement was founded by Gonzálo Jiménez de Quesada on the site of the former Muiscas settlement. The new Spanish settlement was called Santa Fé de Bacatá. (Santa Fé was the town in Spain that Jiménez was from). Eventually, Bacatá was corrupted to Bogota, and its official name became Santa Fé de Bogota.
Bogota was elevated to the capital of the New Kingdom of Granada, which was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru at the time. Later it became the capital of the Viceroyalty of New Grenada. The city became one of the most important centers of power in Spain's South American colonies.
From 1810 to 1811, the inhabitants revolted against Spanish rule, declared their independence, and set up their own government. However, internal turmoil and revolts led to the Spanish re-conquest in 1816. The country remained under Spanish rule until Simón Bolívar defeated the Spanish at the Battle of Boyacá in 1819.
After the Spanish were permanently expelled, Bogota became the capital of the Republic of Gran Colombia, which included the present-day countries of Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. Eventually, the Republic of Gran Colombia was broken up, and Bogota became the capital of the new nation of Colombia.
Since Bogota was the most important city in Colombia politically, economically, and culturally, it quickly grew, sprawling over most of the Bogota Savanna, which is a highland plateau on which the city sits. In 1956, Bogota and most of its suburbs became a "Special District." In 1991, it was changed to a "Capital District." In 2000, the official name was changed from Santa Fé de Bogota to just Bogota.
Nowadays, Bogota is a sprawling city with about 8,250,000 inhabitants in its metropolitan area. At an elevation of 8,661 feet (2,640 meters), it is the third-highest capital city in the world, after La Paz, Bolivia and Quito, Ecuador.
Don't be scared off by travel warnings
Favorite thing: We only decided to travel to Colombia after we arrived in South America for a 9 month trip. Everybody we ran into on the road in Ecuador told us that a South America trip would not be complete without including Colombia. All we had heard was that the country was very dangerous and that we would be kidnapped or at least have everything stolen. I'm glad we ignored the "travel warnings" because Colombia was the friendliest country we visited in all of South America. We stopped counting the times that Colombians would invite us to travel with them, or the times that we were taken around small towns by the locals. We have never felt so welcomed in a country as we did in Colombia.
Favorite thing: When people ask me what my favorite capital cities are in South America, and where they should visit, I always put Bogota, Colombia at the top of my list. Inevitably, whomever I am talking to recoils in shock as if I am suggesting that, in visiting Bogota, they go hang out with narco-terrorists for a vacation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Of course, everyone knows Colombia for its drugs problem and the FARC, but the country itself is gorgeous and, unless you are determined to go traipsing around the jungle areas outside of government control, you'll be pretty safe.
Bogota remains one of my most favorite cities for its sheer beauty, its amazing museums, and the abundance of fabulous restaurants. Compared to other South American capitals (Rio, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires) it is relatively inexpensive and offers tons of options for sightseeing. A day spent winding through Bogota's art collections is a day well-spent. The Robledo collection is not to be missed by anyone who is a fan of this artist. Check out the hip, downtown, shopping district at night for some great finds and then stop in at one of the many restaurants in the area to feast on steak (no, not quite as good as Argentina or Uruguay but close...) and pasta. Bogota hosts some of the most up-and-coming chefs in Latin America and, if you're a foodie, you will not be disappointed by their offerings. Plus, it all comes at a great price.
If your travel plans take you to South America anytime soon...go see beautiful Bogota. You will never forget it.
Fondest memory: Colombians are the best part of Colombia. Spanish-speakers (or, like myself, those who aspire to be) will find Colombian Spanish much easier to understand than other versions and native Colombians warm and determined to make any traveler feel welcome. Colombians, despite their country's troubles, are so effusive and proud of their country that you will be won over in short order. Be prepared to while away the evening hours sipping fabulous wine and listening to stories of determination and heartbreak as the wars in Colombia have somehow touched everyone's lives. Nevertheless, by the time you depart, you will find yourself wishing you had just one more evening in this remarkably resilient and optimistic country.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
SOCIAL DIFFERENCES IN COLOMBIA
Favorite thing: „« Colombia had been persistently suffered from pronounced social, regional, and ethnic inequality as well as widespread poverty.
Fondest memory: The violence in Colombia
„« The social conflict has been growing during the last years
„« Have emerged the political violence, for several years has been the violence for between FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrillas and paramilitary and rebel armed groups
„« Violent crime in Colombia is at its
lowest level in last years
„« Since 2002, murders, kidnappings and terrorist acts in Colombia have all declined significantly, It is a struggle that has been going on for centuries.
The oil in Colombia
Favorite thing: Petroleum
In human's history, the most important fuel.
The petroleum is a no renewable recourse and brings the biggest percentage of total energy consumed in the world.
About producers’ countries, I must to say there is a big international organization (OPEC) made up for 11 countries (Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela). This organization is the biggest petroleum cartel.
The others countries out of this organization are called independents, between principals producers countries we have UK, Mexico, Russia, Noruega and EEUU, Colombia is considerate a marginal country about production, and reserves.
The first records about petroleum existence in Colombia come of the Spain Conquest, when the Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada soldiers arrive for Magdalena River to the Tora, a place of Yariguies that now is Barrancabermeja.
Around, they find places when some black and viscous liquid come from the floor. The Indians used this liquid to restore their bodies.
The Spain used to waterproof their ships, centuries after this liquid become in the base if the Colombia petroleum industry.
In 1905 the national government signs two concession contracts that years later become in begin of the petroleum sector.
The first reservoir find in Colombia was called “la Cira Infantas” and it has about 900 millions of petroleum barrels.
In 1921the production started and with it big constructions like Barrancabermeja refinery and a pipeline to Atlantic Cost to export oil and in 1948 born Ecopetrol.
I recommend two hotels. If you like little nice hotel with 5-star services look for '101 Park...more
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As I said in my introduction to Medellin, the first surprise I had arriving in the city, was to find...more
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