Category Archives: colombia

Three days in Parque Tayrona

A and I spent some time in Parque Tayrona, a national park on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

And even though LOTS of other people had planned to do the same thing, we still had a lot of the park all to ourselves. And it is a beautiful place. One just needs to keep in mind that Tayrona is quickly becoming one of the most hyped places that Colombia has to offer, which definitely cannot help but take its toll on a place. We were lucky enough to see monkeys jumping around in the tree tops and we saw lots of birds too. And swam in amazingly refreshing water.

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a moment of reflection

The park is full of camping options and we chose the first place we got to, which was also the cheapest and the biggest. We slept in hammocks.

During our days we walked around the park and looked for monkeys in the trees. We also spent a lot of time swimming and exploring caves.

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Tayrona is full of beaches. Most of them are dangerous and have strong rip currents, but they are all sign posted. And they are all equally beautiful; strewn with boulders and lush with jungly vegetation.

We brought most of our food ourselves since the food you can buy there is very expensive. I was surprised to see that the park does not offer adequate communal cooking sites; there is a fireplace and some run-down pots and no wood for making a fire. So we ate oatmeal and banana crisps for three days.

One evening we were talking to some other travellers who were interested in knowing where A goes to school. When I told them she doesn’t go to school and never has gone they were amazed by how much she knew even though she’d never actually ‘learned’ it. Especially one person was intrigued by how A learns. He asked if we’d seen the movie ‘Captain Fantastic’? And even though there are lots of things about that movie that I felt quite disappointed about when I first saw it, I was still happy to hear that someone who doesn’t actually unschool or even homeschool could be inspired by a movie about homeschooling.

I am mostly weary of talking too much about unschooling with people who have no concept of alternative education. It is tedious trying to explain why we do what we do and how much learning actually takes place outside of a conventional schooling scene. But in this case I could feel that what I was trying to explain was actually sinking in. It is uplifting to have such encounters with people.

A was climbing the big rocks at our camp site during the day. She befriended a young boy who lived there and they spent some time climbing and talking. They had some difficulties understanding each other from time to time but they made it work with a little Spanish and a lot of sign language.

One day we went with a Canadian girl to see if we could find a place where we could jump straight from the rocks and into the water. A and I had noticed some people doing it the day before and we wanted to try it.

A wanted me or Sarah to go first so someone would be in the water when she went in. And then we jumped, and jumped, and jumped! We had a lot of fun.

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rock climbing in Parque Tayrona

After two nights of sleeping in hammocks in close proximity to lots of other people we decided to return to Santa Marta.

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A and her new friend

Visiting nature parks is always a good experience with A. She loves spending time outdoors and often walking outside together makes for interesting conversations. We both like the quiet of the nature and getting away from the crowds. Maybe I more so than A, but we both deduce from it something of greater value than might be visible to the eye.

It has to be said, though, that Parque Tayrona is probably the least charming out of all national parks we have visited thus far.

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Colombia; salsa, street art, street food, and alegria all mixed up <3

 

We meet up with my brother, Niels, in Quito. We have been travelling for almost 5 months and we are really happy to see a familiar face. A is positively beaming with happiness. She has been looking forward to seeing her uncle for a long time!

My brother brought sunshine to Quito and we enjoy a couple of sunny days there, a welcomed change to the rainy days we have been experiencing since we arrived.

Actually, we have spent quite a long time in Ecuador. We travelled up the coast from Peru to MontaƱita, Puerto Lopez, Canoa, and then Mompiche, where we stayed for a month, which I will elaborate on later, and then we went to Quito.

In Quito we meet Jan from Germany. We spend some really good days with him, going to Otavalo and Mindo, which are both towns near to Quito. Jan is delightful company and A really enjoys spending time with him. We go around town pretending to have super powers and fighting against evil forces who want to control the earth. It is a lot of fun. We also meet up with Olga and Magdalena, two girls from Poland that we know from Mompiche, and we are really happy to see them again.

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Magdalena, A, and Olga

We have had some good adventures, met amazing people, and enjoyed life a lot in Ecuador. But we are ready to move on. To Colombia. I am SO excited to see this country. Virtually everyone we have met have told us that Colombia is AMAZING!

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leaving Quito

The border crossing from Ecuador to Colombia is the quickest and easiest we have made on our travels so far. The part that took the longest was getting stamped out of Ecuador and that was only because the line was the same one as people entering the country were in. On the Colombian side we just breeze through and then we get a taxi to Ipiales where we spend our first night.

The next morning we take an 8 hour bus ride to Popayan. The scenery on the ride is stunning. A counts 8 waterfalls. We ride on the mountain sides and look down steep hills into valleys with rivers. Everything is green and lush. It is a big change to the southern coasts we have left behind.

Popayan is known in Colombia as la ciudad blanca, the white city, and one of the most well-kept colonial cities in Colombia. The historical center is full of old, white buildings. It is warmer here and we enjoy walking along the streets in el centro historico. We eat street food; arroz con frijoles and arepas con queso. It is easy to find assumably vegetarian food but we have to make it absolutely clear that we don’t want ANY kind of meat. Unfortunately we are unlucky enough to be served alegedly vegetarian dishes with meat in them on several occasions; yuck! This is not unique for Colombia though; it happens all over South America all the time. It is more a question of cultural differences than anything else, I think. The aspect of not eating any animal products is simply unthinkable here. And surely fish or poultry is not meat? As well as minced meat or broth cooked on meat is not meat. But it is!!

We walk around town and climb a hill with a statue on it that gives a great view over Popayan.

Our first impressions of Colombia are great. People are incredibly friendly and welcoming. People in the street stop us to ask where we’re from or just to bid us hello and welcome. A lot of people ask us to pose with them in pictures; they are especially fond of A’s blond hair and blue eyes. A agrees to pose once in a while, but she also knows when she’s had enough and declines if she feels too overwhelmed.

We stay three nights in Popayan before moving on to Cali, Colombia’s most famous salsa town. And Cali is AMAZING – Niels and I love it from the moment we arrive. A is reluctant because she is hungry and tired. But once we have eaten some bandeja she feels better. And Cali captures her heart as well.