I fell in love with Colombia last month. With the city of Medellin, the mountains that surround it, and the generous and kind people I met along the way.
If you’re like me, you binged on Narcos in less than a week and you probably have a pretty specific impression of Medellin. Don’t get me wrong, you can definitely find what you’re looking for if you know what I mean. But that’s not what stuck with me. What stuck with me was a city carved into a jungle, with green climbing the walls of every restaurant and bar you walk into, where there are sure to be people up and dancing, and parks and rivers surrounding the sidewalks. Every other wall has a mural of graffiti, adding color to your view as you walk in the most perfect weather to one of a million cafes to work from.
I did get a peak into what life was like in the Escobar era when I visited Communa 13, once the most dangerous area of Medellin. Since then, it’s been transformed by powerful graffiti and a outdoor-escalator system that made it easier and safer to get around.
Medellin also served as a perfect starting point for some memorable trips. I made an aggressive move and took a trip on day one of my month to Guatape in a weird hippie van with a guide named Rafa. It was the coolest day $35 has ever gotten me. After jumping off a bridge into the Guatape lake and eating a homemade meal of the best food I had in Colombia, we climbed 800 stairs up the Penol boulder to see this view:
If you ever find yourself in Medellin, get in this van!! It’s not as creepy as it sounds.
Next came our trip to Santa Marta, Tayrona National Park and Cartagena. We completely fumbled our way through this trip and I feel like I could write a whole post on what to do/not to do when you’re going to Tayrona – buy your tickets online and bring more than one bag of Doritos – but finding a private beach next to the jungle slightly made up for our struggles. Also, the hut we stayed in inside the jungle and the impromptu festival we went to on the beach in the rain didn’t hurt:
And minus the creepy guy in our very sweaty hostel, Cartagena didn’t suck either:
Weeks 37-40 Highlights
Leaving Medellin was tough. Reasons why included when I:
- Went to a coffee farm and learned the process, before getting eaten alive by bugs and getting caught in torrential downpour
- Had a makeshift passover sedar
- Explored the city of Santa Marta
- Chilled on a private beach in Tayrona
- Went to the Estereo Beach festival on Costeno Beach in the pouring rain
- Explored the old city and islands of Cartagena
- Recorded a video
- Saw a Columbian jazz show
- Visited Juan, who extracts THC oil in his house in the mountains for medicinal purposes
- Went paragliding over Medellin
- Spent a day slip n’ sliding and BBQing with my RY family at a finca (farm) house in the countryside of Medellin
It’s officially the final three months of this crazy year, and while I want to take that thought and throw it in the ocean that I’m staring at right now, I also know I should probably take this opportunity to think about what I want from this last chapter:
- Deeper connections with my Ikigais, both with my closest friends and the people I haven’t gotten to know as well.
- A deeper connection with myself, by making sure I carve out alone time and do the things I want to do instead of going with the crowd.
- Deeper connections with the places I visit, whether that means connecting with locals, understanding their history, or giving back in some way.
Let’s start in Lima.