Stuffing our now clean laundry into our bags Lauren, Sam, Carl and I were reunited and bundled into a teeny tiny taxi headed for the airport to catch our flight to Bogota. It was my last adventure with Lauren and we definitely went out with a bang. I went to my first ever football match (Bogota vs Cali), alcohol is banned and so are away team supporters and it’s easy to see why. The mood from the crowd is infectious. The banners that come streaming down from the crowds have to be carefully orchestrated and you can feel the passion coming off the supporters. Bogota won 3-0 and although I’m not a football fan I’m so glad I went to the game.
I said my goodbyes to the people I’d been with for the last three weeks and made my way up to San Gil which took a LOT longer than expected. A kindly man sat next to me and struck up a conversation in Spanish and on hearing that I was keen to learn Spanish embarked on possibly the most embarrassing Spanish lesson of my life. He insisted I repeat barrrrrro, carrrrro, guitarrrrr and several other words over and over again to learn to roll the R’s within words properly much to the delight of the rest of the bus, who stared and smiled or outright laughed. I only got a break as one man a few seats behind me snored so loudly EVERYONE turned around and starting laughing and calling him ‘pig’ (you had to hear it to understand). The lesson proceeded to conversation about countries and politics and religion. After awhile my brain had had enough and I had to pretend to fall asleep in order to be left alone, although it didn’t stop Senor bus man from prodding me awake every time he thought there was something interesting I should see / we’d reached a new town. A very kind man but 8 hours was more than enough. I had a quick meal and enjoyed a four bed dorm to myself that night.
I went paragliding the next day which was just brilliant. Half an hour flying over and through a canyon was excellent fun. The landing was my very part as we were doing what felt like somersaults in the sky. The only rules of paragliding were; run when you’re told to, lift your legs on landing, and if you’re going to be sick let the pilot know so you can grab a sick bag. I laughed. Whose going to be sick doing that?! Apparently the two German girls in our group. Oops.
We played Tejo that night (the Colombian gunpowder game) which I am exceptionally bad at. The beers were good though. I also went caving to the recommended Cow cave, although fun I’ve been to other more interesting caves.
I was recommended a cute little town called Guadalupe by the owner of the hostel and set off with Alex, a newly found friend in San Gil (if anything his Tejo skills were worse than mine). We weren’t 100% sure what we were doing, got chatting to a lady on the Jeep en route who was visiting her friend and did we have a place to stay and if not would we like to stay in her friends spare room? And that’s how we ended up the only white people in town, staying in a random ladies spare room for the night. On arrival we dropped off our things and headed straight for Las Gachas – the main attraction of the area, and were treated to stunning views and Las Gachas themselves.
We went back to San Gil the following day, both regretting not taking more time to visit more remote little towns around the area. That night I took an overnight bus to my final stop in Colombia, feeling very smug that I’d remembered sweatpants and a sweater for the notoriously cold bus ride but then wondering if it was possible to get frostbite on your toes from the air con when I realised I’d forgotten socks. I arrived early the next morning in Cartagena where I was staying for a night before taking a two hour speed boat ride to the magical Casa en el Agua. A hostel built on coral in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.
I spent two nights at the hostel. I met some incredible people (including a Canadian couple who have overhauled their lives and are a complete inspiration), swam around in clear waters, visited the worlds most densely populated island (which had a surprising amount of bunnies on it), admired the starry sky, took advantage of the happy hour cocktails and enjoyed a nighttime swim with plankton – delighting in having my whole body lit up as I swam and watching pinpricks of light dance all over my arms as I dove under the water to then be greeted by a blanket of stars as I resurfaced.
I spent two months in Colombia, having planned 5 weeks and could definitely have spent more time there. I got to experience culture, parties, treks, islands, adventures, thrills, places that left me feeling uncomfortable, my first ever football match, and ended with something truly magical. If you’ve got the chance to visit this amazing country then take it. I’ll certainly be heading back.