<!–:de–>Kolumbien – Karneval, Kolonialstadt und Kaffee<!–:–><!–:en–>Colombia – Carneval, Colonial and Coffee<!–:–>

Written by Sebastian on April 26th, 2012. Posted in Allgemein

Sebastian: We leave Santa Marta after the spectacular trip to the Lost City to head to Barranquilla where the second biggest carnival of South-America takes place. As always we didn”t plan anything. At the bus station direction Barranquilla the queue is around 50 meters long and we expect the worst but in the end everything works out quite fast and after only around 30 minutes we sit in the bus. The ride is quite short and when we arrive we jump off the bus as Eugénie tells us “here is the place, here is the place!” In the end this is not at all “the place” but she seemed to have misunderstood the guy she sat next to on the bus. We dont mind and ask a taxi driver where the party does actually begin and learn that it is at the other side of town… of course :). As we check out the closest hotel they tell us that they do not have any rooms left, as expected. But nevertheless they help us to find a place where we can leave our luggage for little money.

So finally we are set to go and check out this famous carnival. A taxi brings us to an area where the crowd is going crazy already. The driver explains us that here the procession starts so we are exactly where we want to be! First of all we have to buy one of the hats that everyone is wearing here and Eugenie gets a red and white Alice band for her hair. As we squeeze ourselves through the people we get constantly sprayed on by foam or they just throw white powder on us. Everybody is smiling and the atmosphere is just positive. Shortly after, the action begins as one group of dancers after the other passes by the already impatient audience. Interestingly in almost every online casino group only the first two to three rows of dancers are really organized… the others just enjoy dancing at their own style or rhythm, some of them chatting with each other, others even being on the phone!

After a while we decide to change the place and ask a riksha driver to bring us somewhere else, where there is also something going on. We trust him and after a short ride he drops us off at a gas station. Minutes later we find ourselves surrounded by a group of teenagers and kids that are also part of a dancing group. With big interest they want to know everything about us and show us how well they can dance… and they can dance! In the end they even offer us to walk with them as they dance in front of the crowd… At first I feel a bit insecure about that since I don”t know what do expect – would the people want us to dance too ??? After a short discussion with Martin and Eugenie we decide to follow them as they head onto the street to make the audience cheer up. Looking around we realize that we seem to be the only foreigners and that the people go crazy for us too! Every 20 meters somebody wants to take a picture with us as if we were a carnival attraction as well :). Martin then finds out that we are actually in a completely popular district where there is no tourism or the like going on. Once again we are surprised and touched by how lovely people can be – everybody is smiling at and talking to us, some ask us to stay for a drink and of course sometimes the people that sit next to the street in plastic chairs scream for us to dance! But not way, no way we are going to humiliate ourselves after we have seen how people move their bodies here!

When the sun is about to set we decide to go back and to pick up our stuff. Since we couldn”t find any accommodation we have to take the bus to Cartagena, a colonial city at the west coast of Columbia. The taxi drops us off next to the hotel where we had left our luggage and we decide to have a last beer in a bar before we leave. As usual one beer becomes many beers as the bar owner turns up the music and more and more people start to dance. After a while they ask us to dance with them and since we are polite guests we accept… for the amusement of all the people around :). We give our best not to look completely foolish and as we finally have to leave after a couple of hours – not to miss the last bus – some of the other guests even ask us to stay saying they do not want us to leave… I think you cannot repeat often enough how good it feels to meet all these nice people around the world!

So, after a wonderful day in Barranquilla we take the bus to Cartagena. We arrive late at night and take the first best hostel that we can find. The dorm is not really what we call “nice”, the windows are blanked with wood and the toilet/shower is in the room – but built in a way that everyone can hear everything… and I mean EVERYTHING. Very romantic as you can imagine. The next day we start to check out the city a little bit. It is a beautifully conserved, colonial style but also very touristic place. Thanks good it is not really high season, so it is not over-crowed. In the early afternoon suddenly Eugenie starts to feel bad… really bad :(. We can”t even make it back to the hostel before she brakes down and has to get rid of what we ate just a couple of hours before. The next day Martin also stays in bed with similar symptoms as Eugenie even got some fever from what we think was a food intoxication… surprisingly I survive without further problems – normally it is me who has stomach problems when the food is not the freshest one… lucky for once :).

After Martin and Eugenie feel better and we have visited the fortress and the rest of the city we continue direction south to Medellin where we meet with Juan, the cousin of a good friend of mine from France. Even though he is advised at the last moment that we will come he spontaneously takes the time to show us around the city with his girlfriend Diana. Medellin happens to be one of the economic engines of the country and has even a modern metro system. The city is located in a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains and national parks. We take half a day to visit one of them and are astonished by such a nice recreational area so close to a big city. As you arrive in the park you have guides who take groups on a walk or you can rent a bike for free… a service that we find very attractive! An interesting detail about this city is that the cable cars that carry the people up to the recreational areas lead directly through the poor areas and even have stops there. Thanks to this the people of these districts feel proud of their area and keep it clean and tidy… nice to see. What one should also know about Medellin is that this is the hometown of Pablo Escobar, on if histories biggest drug smugglers. He invested loads of money building schools or medical facilities and is there for loved by the poor part of the population.

After two days in Medellin we decide to stay at a coffee farm close to Manizales where we also take part in a tour thought the plantations including all the explanations about the how and when and why and where about coffee – on of THE drugs of humanity :). For example we learn that coffee originates in Ethiopia and that the best Colombian coffee is only exported and that this is why in Colombia itself you will almost always only get served the “Tinto”, a watery coffee with loads of sugar. Why? Because the quality of the beans is low. To hide this they are heavily roasted (on contrary to good quality beans) which unfortunately also gives them a bitterly taste. Now, to hide this they brew it with lots of water and add a lot of sugar… doesn”t that sound like the famous great Colombian coffee to you?! :).

And that”s almost it with our Colombia experience. It was a pleasure to travel through this beautiful country where people, landscape and culture fascinate you day in and day out. A pity that this place suffers so much from a bad image due to the drug history!!! Our last bus trip leads us to the boarder with Ecuador where Eugenie is going to fly back from Quito… but this is yet another story!