Colombia Wrapup and Memories

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Woman carrying her bundle of firewood
Woman carrying her bundle of firewood (View on flickr)

Some more ramblings about our (wonderful) time in Colombia:

Colombia is such a diverse country. I'd say there's more money here than in any country we've been in since we left the US. Many relatively small towns have very fancy downtowns, with great services. (If you're looking for a place to invest, you should consider Colombia. It's looked on so poorly by the outside world, but is actually thriving and on the way up.)

On the other hand, we've seen poverty as severe as many other places, and lots of rural scenes. Horse carts galore, competing in cities with fancy cars in underpasses. Bicycles loaded with all kinds of construction goods and equipment. People living along the highway in shacks made of plastic sheeting. Beggars crawling around in the cities. Sometimes very sad.

Big loads on every type of vehicle
Big loads on every type of vehicle (View on flickr)

The highways were delightful - they've all been privatized and are supported by tolls. In general we had good highways with some shoulder (we did not have to pay the toll - bicyclists and motorcycles are exempt) and the motorists were more respectful of cyclists than any country we've ridden in. This is probably because cycling is SO popular. The professional "Vuelta a Colombia", a race like the Tour de France, is on right now, and it's the top item in the papers every day.

Colombia is huge, nearly half the area of Texas, and with 42 million people. It has more biodiversity than any other country, with 1875 species of birds, 3500 species of butterflies, and 99 different ecosystems.

People were friendly and very proud of their country. They all wanted to show us around and show us how different the country is from what everyone has heard.

There's lots of news about the guerrilla group (the FARC) and the paramilitaries, and about the narcotics trafficking, of course, and how all these affect the politics of the country (and there have been some bribery scandals of late). It's all very exciting, and we feel like we just saw one episode of a long-running soap opera, and now we're going to miss the next episodes, but we're hooked already.

When Nancy disappeared in a shopping mall looking for a bathroom, I made a poor joke about her being kidnapped. It wasn't funny to our friends in Cali. I won't make any more kidnapping jokes in Colombia.

Hotels cost us as little as $7, and a good standard meal was usually about $3, so the country was pretty cheap.

Colombia is a great place, and a country to watch, and probably to invest in.