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Your Opinion is Wrong

On my jungle walk last week to Parque Nacional Tayrona, I met a very sweet couple from Bogota who just happen to be moving to Montreal sometime next week. They excitedly asked me many questions about Canada, most of them focused on how cold it actually gets in winter. I was happy to tell them about everything they could expect, and to reassure them that they would be very happy in my home country.

And then Andrea asked: “Do Canadians know Colombia? What do they think of it? Drogas y armas (drugs and guns)?” I unfortunately nodded.

When Pete and I added Colombia to our list of countries to visit, we got many concerned emails about the dangers. Yes, it is the world’s number one supplier of cocaine. And yes, it has had a very troubled and violent past because of it. But Colombia also has some of the most beautiful scenery we have encountered, and definitely has the most friendly and generous people we have ever met. Forget everything you thought you knew about Colombia. Your opinion is wrong.

It won’t take long for this country to move higher on every tourist’s “must see” list (it is already a backpacker favourite). A marketing campaign on television stations across South America states: “The only dangerous thing about Colombia is that you won’t want to leave.” And while parts of the country are still to be avoided (same as any other country!), most of it is open and ready to serve a growing tourism industry.

We have had some misses on our 33 day journey thru Colombia – but can attribute most of it to bad timing, bad weather, and bad hostel choices. All of that aside, we can definitely say that this country ranks as one of our favourites. From experiencing Holy Week in southern Popayan to enjoying remote beaches in the north, our experiences here have been vastly diverse, but with one important thing in common – along the way we have met some very incredible people who successfully differentiate themselves from the troubled past of their country. People who have gone out of their way to welcome us, feed us, give us tours, and even just thank us for visiting their country. Colombians have opened our eyes and minds to what it means to truly portray pride for your country and have given new meaning to the word “hospitality”. And even though our continuing travels must take us out of this beautiful country, we will make every effort to spread the word at what an amazing place it is to visit.

Diego and Andrea leave in a very short time to live and find new opportunity in Canada. I only hope that our country can be as good to them as theirs has been to us. I am sure it will.

12 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. You’re right, it’s not advertised enough that Colombia is populated by beautiful people. I’ve never been there but anybody I know who traveled to the controversial country in Latin America has been literally captivated by the people they met.
    This is what made me fall in love with Brazil first and now China.
    Angela recently posted..Hopping on and off the little islands of the One Thousand Island Lake

    • It’s sad that people can’t get passed news stories from over a decade ago! It is such a beautiful place, largely because of the amazing people. We’ve yet to do both Brazil and China, but will see them for sure!

  2. I can’t wait to go to Colombia. There are so many things I want to do and people I want to meet. My parents are already freaking out.
    Erica recently posted..Photo Friday: HDR – Tamarindo, Costa Rica

  3. We are SO looking forward to Colombia. We were able to meet a few Colombians while we were in the Galapagos and they all said they felt much safer in their homeland than walking the streets of Quito (especially at night). We’ve heard so many good things about Colombia and we’re crossing our fingers that we’ll be there soon.

    • Yes, you will love it there. I actually didn’t mind Quito at all, was there quite a few times and I felt pretty safe. That being said I have heard some bad stories there, and it really struck us when we were taking a taxi one night and the driver locked the doors on us when we were in a sketchy area.

  4. I’m heading there in 4 weeks’ time! I can understand why people have their concerns, but so far, 100% of the people who’ve warned me against going there have never actually been themselves. I know so many people who rate Colombia as one of their favourite countries in the world. I just hope I can tear myself away to see the rest of the continent – bad place to start?
    Arianwen recently posted..The African child safari

  5. Thank you for supporting my country and clear the air for many. It’s great to have different people come and visit. I’ve been in the States for more than 12 years but still manage to go every year to Colombia and every time I do I find more interesting places and people. THANK YOU again for showing another face. In Colombia we say “porque los buenos somos más” which means “because we, the good ones, are majority” and it’s true the risk that you take it’s that you want to stay forever.

    • I LOVE that saying. And your country. We are actually hoping to go back soon, I hope we get there!

      • Well if you go let me recommend a special place: I’ve seen that you’ve been in the Atlantic (north) part of Colombia. I’m from a small coffee town called Sevilla just like the one from Spain. It’s a small town (around 60K population) where you can enjoy a nice 18C average climate, mountains, fresh coffee, warm people and great CHEAP food. It’s a 1 hour flight from Bogota to Armenia then 40 minutes in car to this town or you can fly to Cali, Valle and then drive to Sevilla which it’s approximately 2 hours. We have a festival called Festival Bandola every August, those three days the town is swamp by tourist from everywhere. Let me tell you that we always see more Europeans at the event. My uncle is the director and the best part is that it’s free! Everybody can enjoy the folk music from Colombia at the main plaza of the town. Here is the promo video for last year’s. Let me know if you would like to go one day! You wont regret it. And again, thank you for liking my country!

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BJIFZ3DyV0

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