26.01.2012 - 09.02.2012
It’s those little day to day things that make a trip to a country either very enjoyable or a chore. The attractiveness of the major attractions or tourist spots is important but what makes or breaks the trip is how comfortable, safe and welcomed you feel. Colombia is one of those countries that have it all. The major sights are breathtakingly beautiful but it’s the little day to day things that put it over the top as one of my favorite all time destinations. Here is a short list:
1) People are genuinely friendly and curious. They will ask where you are from and will really want to know if you are enjoying Colombia. When you say you love it they literally light up and you can see how proud they are of their countries rich cultural history. They may not always be entirely honest but even when the taxi driver pretends he doesn’t have change and scams you out of 50 cents he does not do it with anger or malice. He apologizes and offers you a shirt he just bought in place of change. You know he has change, and he knows you don’t want the shirt, so in the end you end up leaving the cab having paid $2.50 for the ride instead of $2. Not a big deal.
2) There is modern Colombian music incorporating traditional sounds EVERYWHERE. It’s a little thing but it’s important. You can see people in the restaurant kitchens and in public squares moving their feet and swaying their hips to the music. Taxi drivers turn it up and sing along to the music. You feel like there is a sound track to your trip and I’m still trying to figure out if I can find out the names of some of the songs that are stuck on repeat in my head.
3) The coffee is AWESOME. The traditional Colombian cup of coffee is called a “tinto” and it is a tiny cup of pure liquid energy served BLACK. I hate drinking my coffee black back in Canada. It tastes bitter and even if I add sugar to it makes my mouth contort in various uncomfortable ways. I have no idea what they do to the coffee here, or maybe rather it’s what they don’t do, but I LOVE sipping these tinto’s just the way they are. No sugar, no milk. It doesn’t taste bitter at all and it has a certain faint natural sweetness to it that reminds me a bit of dark chocolate. The best part is they are usually provided free of charge wherever you may be staying. I will miss my tinto’s!
4) There are a ton of street food vendors and many of them are absolutely delicious. Most countries have excellent expensive restaurants but it’s a rare place where you can just go down the street and pick up amazing tasty food from a guy with a cart. One my favourites to pick up are these little balls of breakfast goodness they all serve called “Papa’s Rellenos” which basically means “stuffed potato”. It’s nothing more than some ground meat surrounded with chopped up potato and deep fried. It’s delicious and it’s been my best friend for breakfast this entire trip. The cost? Between 50 cents and 1 dollar depending on the vendors mood that day.
5) Freshly squeezed fruit juices. They are everywhere, street vendors, restaurants, bars and they cost between 1 and 2 dollars for a giant cup. There are even street vendor stands that are just giant juicer machines with an attached cart carrying all types of fruit. You point to what you want and they make your juice right in front of you. Yummm.
Here are some more pics of us enjoying the excellent Colombian street food: