After years of Colombia ranking in in my top 5 countries I desperately wanted to visit, I finally made it there in February. Woohoo! Viva Colombia! Aaaand, 12 hours after landing I immediately became so deathly ill, that I barely left my bed for 5 days. BIG boo.
So, that’s the sad version of the story. But, there’s also a bright side to every story, right? This one is no exception.
I had been fighting some sort of plague for a few days prior to leaving for Colombia, but assumed it’d pass once I actually got into vacation mode. I was wrong. Hours after landing, I could barely raise my head.
Ayaz ran to the pharmacy and returned with mysterious antibiotics. I hacked up enough mucus to make a hardened physician cringe. I got a sinus infection. I developed a cough. And then, I got a 2-day-long migraine. So, yeah. As far as my withering body was concerned, those days blew.
But, let’s get back to the bright side, shall we?
We stayed at the simple but lovely Patio de Getsemani, where the entire staff should get their faces plastered on holy cards. They were honest to goodness saints, tending to my gross self, bringing me concoctions of lemon, honey, and salt for my throat and others for my mucus, worrying over me, and doing all they could to make sure I was comfortable. I love them. I swear I do.
And, hark! All was not lost. I did manage to explore Cartagena and Bogota with what strength I could muster, and I truly enjoyed both towns, different though they were.
Cartagena is charming and magical, and all the other standard superlatives visitors bestow upon it. That said, most folks seem to be referring (understandably) to its Old Town. This ancient, walled quarter is absolutely lovely; it’s also largely dotted with tourist traps. Of course, hanging on the Old Town walls at sunset with scores of visitors and locals, as they drank cold cans of beer, was just wonderful.
Still, pretty though it was, the Old Town felt a little to picture-perfect, made-for-tourists for my tastes. I much preferred Getsemani, a neighborhood just outside the Old Town, (where my hotel was located).
Getsemani still has charm, but it’s mixed with a solid dose of grit. There are more locals here, living, eating, working, and on weekends and evenings, dancing in the square. Plus, there was really good (and cheap) food. (See fish platter below — that bad boy cost a whopping $3.50!)
Then, it was on to Bogota, which I absolutely loved. At the recommendation of our friend, Anne, we stayed in the uber-hip Chapinero neighborhood, which was teeming with funky little cafes and restaurants complete with filament lights and distressed wood, straight outta Brooklyn, I swear.
Of course, the city is not without its fair share of grit, and this I loved — especially some of the gorgeous street art.
I didn’t get to do as deep a dive into Colombia as I would have liked to, but I saw enough to know I liked it — a lot — and to know I’ll be back.