Friday, May 20, 2016

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena was hot, beautiful, kind, and oh so tasty.  

After spending a long night in the Medellin airport, we finally arrived to the beautiful historic district where we would be staying in Cartagena.  Our noses and rumbling bellies quickly led us to a corner bakery where we were all too pleased to learn that the local people are especially skilled in baking delicious, mouth-watering delicacies.  The only way we were able to choose between the cheesy breads, overstuffed empanadas, sweet croissants, and unidentifiable rolls of beauty was by promising ourselves we would get something new each day (or in our case, multiple times a day...) As we were waiting on the staff to make our freshly squeezed juices, I couldn´t help but ask the man sitting beside us what he had chosen.  Not only did he explain some of the local specialties to us, he even offered to split half of his breakfast with me so that I could try it!  Little did we realize that that man was just the beginning in an incredible show of hospitality (and amazing food) that we would experience in Colombia.  

We spent a decent majority of our time wandering the streets of Cartagena´s historic district, which is filled with boutique shops, restaurants, and artisan vendors.  Despite being an obvious tourist spot, most of the prices were extremely reasonable- another welcome surprise!

Once we felt like we had had our fill of shopping and street food, we ventured over to Convento de la Popa, a Catholic convent on the edge of town dating back to the early 1600´s.  It was the perfect place to watch the sunset over the city and a perfect ending to the first half of our trip.

Monday, May 2, 2016

To Colombia

It's been a while since I've blogged and, thankfully for me, I've finally gotten into the "busy season" of my job. So, after only having a few days at home over nearly a month, I was looking forward to a vacation quite a bit. 

Before coming to Panama, Colombia was never on my list of places to visit.  After all, the only Colombia that I knew of was certainly dangerous and not worth the time, expense, and risk to go there.  

However, due to its close proximity and cheap costs, Colombia is a very popular vacation destination for volunteers in Panama, and it seemed that every person that visited the country returned with nothing but glowing reviews.  After hearing so many good things about the people and places in Colombia, I finally decided to pack my bags and take the 50 minute flight to South America. 

Let me tell you- those glowing reviews were not wrong.  From our very first morning in Cartagena when a local man offered to share his breakfast with me when I couldn't decide what to order to our last day in Medellin when our AirBnB hosts spent the morning teaching me how to cook arepas, my trip to Colombia was filled with so many wonderful experiences with kind people, beautiful places, and great food.  As those happen to be three of my favorite things, how could I not love it?

I'll be posting a few more blogs about the costs (unbelievably cheap), our favorite things to do, and why staying with a host family can be one of your favorite parts of a trip to Colombia.  In the meantime, here are some of the photos from a country I will definitely be going back to.