Patrick – What are you first impressions of Colombia?
What did you expect from Colombia before you arrived the first time?
I had been fortunate to meet and become friends with some Colombians in London before my first visit to the country, so I had an idea of what the country was like before I visited. Still I was apprehensive because I had heard all the stories in the press about drugs, gangs, kidnappings, murder etc etc. I didn’t speak any Spanish at all but I had a sense of adventure! My first visit was planned at the end of a tour of South America, where I also visited Chile, Peru & Bolivia. Colombia was to be my final stop before flying home.
I landed at the airport in Bogota after taking a flight from Bolivia. It was late at night and my friends were due to meet me at the airport. No one turned up! The security guards at the airport would not let me out or take a taxi and I had no change to make phone calls. So my first impressions were…. oh bugger I managed to call my friends but nobody answered, so I was stranded. With my broken Spanish I managed to persuade a security guard to find me a taxi. He found one driven by an old man (must have been 80+) and he drove me to my friend’s address. As I sat in the car his first question was…. Are you American? I said nope, I am English. His answer was “ah … David Beckham!”. We spent the whole journey talking about football…. the universal language. I knew then that I had fallen in love with Colombia :)
How long did you stay for that time?
My first trip was for 3 weeks.
Where did you visit while you were there?
I went to Bogota, Cartagena, Guatavita, Zipaquirá and a few other places I forget. I spent time walking the streets of Bogota on my own. I never once felt scared or threatened. You just have to use your common sense like anywhere else travelling in the world.
What was your favorite part of Colombia?
So many places were brilliant that it is difficult to say. But if I had to choose I would say Cartagena. A truly wonderful and magical city. The old town is frozen in time with so many stories to tell, that you can feel the history in the air.
What is your most fondest memory of Colombia?
The people. Made some very special friends. A country that really understands how to enjoy life. Friendly, warm, passionate and overwhelming in its sights and sounds. The food is so tasty, I could eat it every day. Spectacular scenary and wildlife. Very lush and green. Stunning beaches, mountains, waterfalls, rivers, architecture….. the list goes on.
Will you visit again?
I have been back over 10 times, and will visit again and again….You see I loved the place so much I found myself a beautiful Colombian seniorita, married her and settled down. Colombia is now a part of me as much as the UK where I am from.
In a few sentences can you explain why someone should make the effort to visit Colombia.
Please, do not go to Colombia! It’s a big secret and we don’t want to many people coming over to spoil it :) But seriously, it will blow your mind! You will be overwhelmed by it and you will have so much fun :) When you are there you will understand. This is a country that has so much potential, is very well developed in many areas, and full of wonderful, intelligent, engaging and caring people. Go and Enjoy!!!