COLOMBIA is superb as a destination as well as a journey. We traveled through their history, through time, witnessing their past while experiencing their present. We arrived with a collection of facts and data and left with an accumulation of experiences. 


We could sense the power of history surging through the historic district, within each building, a story to be told. 

The more we learned about Bogota, the more paradoxical it began to appear. At one time it was labeled the murder capital of the world, but has been known for a longer time as the "Athens of South America". 

From the lookout, we were treated to a grand view, Bogota stretching itself across the landscape of a flat plain. 
……the pervasive use of red brick gives the city a sense of architectural unity…..… red brick apartment buildings…… line leafy streets that twist and turn as they climb up the slope of the mountain. 

………we left the restaurant around 11:00 pm. The party was in full swing, and we promised ourselves we would return one day……… 


…….. we were soon cruising through the lush countryside, enjoying the emerald hills, valleys, and hollows until we were stopped by a military checkpoint, all camouflage in color. 

In the distance, the morning sun shone down on our destination……… as we drove closer, each individual bush with shiny leaves revealed itself, our first introduction to the Colombian coffee plant. 

Dignified old men, whose lined faces told silent stories of their long past were……. weaving various kinds of traditional containers and baskets ……. They smiled a welcome…….. They spoke to us in Spanish, and we replied in English, neither one of us understanding the other, but each having to say what they felt. 

Mustachioed men, wearing blue jeans with machetes dangling from their belts and other with ponchos slung over their shoulders, gathered on the corners. 

Donald and I seemed to be the only foreigners, and the handful of tourists was mostly Colombians enjoying their own country. 

It would have been interesting to wonder about the children………. and who comforted who in the rocking chair. But it was the photos that attracted my attention.……. unique individuals who occupied a period of time. Magically, they seemed to return my gaze…….I felt they wanted me to linger, to hear the stories of their lives, enabling them to live again. However, I, along with the others, was only passing by. the coffee shop, Donald was engaged in a conversation with a local man who appeared to be in his early 50's. He too had a woven leather case hanging from his belt, but this time, instead of a machete, it held a cell phone. 

Vallle del Cocora 

The horses soon found the path, and when they turned left, an astounding narrow valley spread out before us, a Colombian Shangri La. 

These palms,…. the tallest in the world…. …trying to comprehend their soaring height, we marveled at their tapering elegance and felt diminished in their presence. They were scattered everywhere………………&h ellip; 

Harking back to the days of the Quimbayas, who held this tree in high regard, he gently placed a small wax palm plant in the hole, and in the manner of a priest, he held his hands over the plant, reciting a kind of prayer which we were told referenced eternity. 


…….. a mélange of many ethnic influences ……. blending in a cultural stew for over 500 years. 

Life here is lived out on the streets, in a perpetual carnival ……. A cacophony of sounds….. groups of young men…….. strummed guitars, vendors called out, advertising their fruits and vegetables sold from wooden carts. 

It is an emotional place that should be engaged, not so much studied; a place to be felt more than read about. 

It was still early in the morning, but the humidity here works 24/7, ……, it had us cloaked in a soggy, wet blanket. 

We passed the palenqueras, Caribbean women dressed in their traditional colorful skirts and blouses, selling fruit from baskets balanced on their heads. They seemed to sway down the street to the sounds of Caribbean music pulsating through the thick air….…. 

Cartagena's private life goes on behind high walls and heavy ornamental doors….. I interpret a door left open as an invitation to peek inside,……..often rewarded with scenes of courtyards filled with fountains, flowers, and shade trees. 

Was it inevitable that the cloud cover would persist or would we be able to enjoy a sunset over the Caribbean Sea? We never knew, after all, we were in Cartagena. 

We walked along the edges of the old town, finding local people living their lives independent of the tourist trade. Every flower cart we passed was paradise in bloom. We enjoyed watching the fruit vendors carve up their fruit……… turning the ordinary into extraordinary ……. 

The place had a gritty feel, like a southern roadhouse where anything could happen but probably would not due to the beefy security men at the door. ……. the music began……. couples began dancing anywhere they could find a place to move their feet. The beat was compelling, and the dancers fabulous….. . 


The road ahead lay through the jungle and was nothing more than an enhanced path, soft sand alternating with hardened ruts made soggy by the morning rains. 

We were at the highest point, and cantilevered over the side of the mountain, we had a bird's eye view with the entire blue sky open to us….. 

……….the Caribbean Sea spread out to the horizon…….. radiating the colors of peacock feathers….. a pristine white sand beach stretched out toward the east……light had a crystalline quality…….we knew we had reached another special place. 

Julio shouted to the horses……, and we were off……. riding under a thick canopy of trees. …..tall leafy branches…. ….. blocked out the sun, consigning everything below to a dusky aurora of mystery….. giant looping vines hung down from above. Bromeliads and other epiphytes were attached to trees. 

Reverie broken, he began to lead us off the main trail……………… without a shared language, we had no idea where we were going. Did he plan to leave us in the middle of nowhere?