Thursday 6/5/08 Quito, Ecuador
**For ESL Students—This entry is written in easier English for ESL students in Japan and other countries.**
After seven weeks and 1,375 miles (2,212 kilometers), my time in Colombia has come to an end. Out of all the countries I visited so far on my trip, Colombia is my favorite.
Above: Me with the bike, southern Colombian countryside at dusk
While in Colombia, I had the chance to try many different types of food. On the street in many towns and cities, it’s easy to find vendors selling papa rellenas and empanadas. These two foods are fried, cheap, and tasty. For lunch, I usually ate a set meal that included soup, a main plate of food, and fruit juice. These set meals usually cost between $1.50–2.50 U.S. (around 200 Japanese yen). After a long day of cycling, nothing is better than good, fatty food fresh from a street vendor!
Because Colombia has so many mountains, the natural scenery I saw there was spectacular. Massive green mountains loom over lush valleys in many parts of Colombia. There is a lot of farmland, too. We passed fields of corn, sugar, pineapple, and strawberries. I was surprised to see so many different types of natural environments in Colombia. I even saw a desert there!
Above: Tatacoa Desert, outside Neiva, Colombia
Although the food was great and the views were breathtaking, the one thing I enjoyed most in Colombia was the kindness of the Colombian people. Everywhere I went, Colombian people greeted me with smiles and questions about my trip. Bicycling is very popular in Colombia and because of this, many people were curious about my bike and asked to take pictures with me. Often, as I was riding, people would ride next to me in their cars or on their motorcycles and scream out in Spanish, “Welcome to Colombia! Enjoy your time here!” I always felt comfortable and relaxed because the Colombians were so friendly.
Above: Camera-on-the-floor-fun at lunch
Even though I had a great time in Colombia, the country is not without its problems. After decades of fighting, the Colombian government is still struggling to control rebel groups that gain power from selling cocaine and illegal weapons. Even though I never saw any of these groups, I talked to local people who had. Locals said that the power of the groups has decreased in recent years, but they still exist. I can only hope that the future of Colombia will be a peaceful one, free of rebel groups and their violence.
Colombia is an amazing country that is incredibly tourist-friendly. If you haven’t visited Colombia yet, definitely try to in the future!!