Visiting Colombia has been on my mind for the past few years, since I started bumping into travelers in Central America who had spent time there, and had only great things to say. It seems as though for every positive story I hear, there are naysayers quick to reply. For better or worse, these mixed messages tend to increase my curiosity, rather than steer me away. Perhaps because “danger” is my middle name (oh behave).
A few weeks ago, my mom brought up in conversation about my trip that I shouldn't go to Colombia. An old family friend's daughter had spent five years living and working in South America recently, and indicated kidnappings are frequent. The following day, I saw that the Travel Channel's 5 Takes show was going to be in Bogota, so I taped the episode.
I just got around to watching it this morning, however it once again reinforced the positives I've been hearing. The travel journalists (as they're called on the show), furthered those sentiments after:
- getting a scenic view of Bogota (at an elevation 9,000+ feet above sea level)
- watching the presidential changing of the guard
- going to an underground salt mine cathedral
- bicycling around the city
- practicing bull fighting
- going to a big gold museum
- touring a coffee plantation
- horseback riding through a misty jungle valley (my favorite of their experiences – looked amazing!)
Once again, I'm left with the positive feedback of young travelers like myself battling the purely negative headlines about drug cartels, rebels, and kidnappings. Don't get me wrong, I know those things exist (and cocaine, like coffee, is quite easy and cheap to find), however when I make it to my 5th continent of the trip, I hope to have the cojones to see the real Colombia.