The first few days in Columbia were a mixture of paperwork to get our Subaru back, exploring Cartagena, and enjoying our last days with our wonderful crew.  The crew had become very close and we enjoyed meals and outings together including eating at a crewmember, Simone’s, family restaurant while he sang to us all in Italian and Spanish with his deep baritone voice.  We eventually took off from Cartagena on Saturday the May 17th, with three extra sail boat passengers in tow to Tayrona National Park up north along the Columbia coast.

Tayrona National Park was spectacular.  We explored its wonders as we hiked through the jungle and across the beaches of sand and stone, as the waves crashed violently against the shores.  We hiked for over 9 hours and even visited 500+ year-old ruins on the mountains high above the ocean.

Our next stop was to the south in Medellin – a city famous for Pablo Escobar a former drug lord who ruled the city for decades after a short, failed political career.  These days, it is known for its wonderful culture, its great rail and cable-car transportation system, and its coffee!

Next we ventured further south to Bogota – Columbia’s capitol city.  Bogota was beautiful but had more of a big city feel in comparison to Medellin’s culture and architecture.  We nonetheless enjoyed exploring the downtown, the gold museum (Museo del Oro), many universities, and the cable car.  Unfortunately on our way to the cable car, Bart and I were assaulted at knifepoint by three guys.  They stole Bart’s camera but did not manage to take much else.  I have heard many stories of muggings, and while this was not unexpected it was certainly undesired.  This was my first time being held up by armed individuals in all my travels.  We shook it off, had a beer/coffee, and took off the next morning toward Ecuador!

I would like to take a moment to speak about the roads on our trip. Much attention has been given to the destinations, but a large portion of the trip, perhaps the most time, is being spent on the roads – between stops.  These roads have run the gambit from 3 lane highways (rare) to rocky passes that could shake up the Tea Party into supporting same sex marriage (more common).  These roads have taken us through terrain that I have, on countless occasions, struggled to find a way to describe.  Ocean views between palm trees, glimpses of people living out their lives atop motorbikes and donkeys, mountains and valleys – so tall and so deep you can’t see the bottom or top, are hard to explain and impossible to capture in a photo.  Some of the most incredible roads to date were on the road from Bogota to Ecuador, where we climbed thousands of meters on roads hanging off cliffs and fording streams feeding waterfalls sometimes a thousand meters below.  This time, on the road, is one of my favorite aspects of our trip, and one I will remember and long for when I am sitting behind a desk years from now.

On the evening of the second day after leaving Bogota, we arrived at the boarder of Columba and Ecuador.  The boarder was closed for 36 hours prior to our arrival for Columbia’s presidential elections, but we made it through without much of a fuss and were excited to explore the country that I had visited as a student 7 years before.

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