August 10 - September 30, 2004


Colombian Flag

If Colombia ever manages to get rid of its guerrillas and drug-traffickers it will become a must-see tourist destination. The scenery is breathtaking. Located very close to the equator it does of course have its share of hot and sweaty coastal cities like Cartagena. But beyond that it has three ranges of mountains that provide climates anywhere from hot and steamy, to warm and lush, to high and dry. And as if that wasn't enough, the country is dotted with museum-quality small colonial towns that are a photographer's delight and a joy for any tourist.

The people are friendly, hard-working, and by comparison to central America, Colombia is clean. Hotels, restaurants, buses, public toilets even the most basic are always clean. The prices are unbeatable. We have been paying $20-$30 dollars a night for very comfortable hotels, including breakfast. The almuerzo corriente ("the special of the day") costs typically $1.50 each for lunch and can't be beat. It includes soup, a drink like lemonade, small salad, two vegatables, a main dish such as chicken or strip steak, and sometimes a dessert.

Our first stop in Colombia was Cartagena. It lived up to its reputation for beauty. We expect to follow a line generally southward to Ecuador and Peru. Over a course of a month this will allow us to get a good idea of the country, but not see all of it. In size it equals France, Spain, and Portugal combined, with a population slightly exceeding that of Spain. It is nearly 2.5 times as large as Califoria, with a population 20% larger than California's.

Cartagena Cathedral Dome, seen from Museo de la Inquisicion
Cartagena Cathedral Dome, seen from Museo de la Inquisicion


September 1, 2004