Some trips, people easily get. Traveling to Cartagena de Indias, Colombia? Not so much. Reactions I received when sharing about my husband's and my December travel plans included "Colombia? You mean, Colombia the country?" and "Is it safe? What about the drug lords?" Something tells me that if we had chosen the Bahamas or Aruba (which is, incidentally, very close to Cartagena), there would have been less confusion regarding our decision.
I've been to a lot of "third-world" countries: Tanzania, Zambia, Perú, etc.. I spent almost six weeks in Ecuador. And what continually frustrates me is how these countries are demonized so much by "first-world" travelers as being unsafe, miserable, and/or uneducated. While developing countries certainly face unique challenges, who is anyone to say they are better? In Cartagena alone, we met incredibly knowledgeable, well-spoken, friendly, and worldly citizens. We saw a thriving sense of community that is all too rare in the United States. We participated in recycling and eco-consciousness that isn't common enough in North America. We experienced a vibrant sun-soaked lifestyle in a city that was reminiscent of New Orleans dipped in cans of vivid paint. We tried delicious food and drank the tap water (which, yes, is potable in Colombia's major cities). Oh, and we didn't see one drug lord.
Anyway, I'll get off my soapbox. But whenever I travel somewhere a little less known, a little less popular like Colombia, thoughts like these start popping up. The world is so big and there are so many amazing places worth exploring and humbly learning from. If we solely go to destinations that are comfortable and easy, we limit ourselves.
Cartagena is a unique city on the Caribbean coast of Colombia with a Spanish, French, and African heritage. John and I had an amazing time exploring the colonial old town, the street-art and nightlife filled Getsemaní area, and the Miami-esque highrises of Bocagrande. Outside of Cartagena, we went to the Rosario Islands, the mangroves of La Boquilla, a ranch of Paso Fino horses in Santa Marta, and the Aviario Nacional near Playa Blanca. Below are a few favorite images!