Posted by: Debra Kolkka | May 22, 2013

Colombia Guest Post – Part Two…

Hello again to everyone. As promised, here’s our little Part 2 on our Colombian escapade. Central to many people’s holiday/life is food but there probably aren’t too many people for whom it’s more true than Brando and I.

Brando and I @ a fabulous Argentinian steak house in Cartagena

Brando and I @ a fabulous Argentinian steak house in Cartagena

Ever partial to a tasty treat we were both really excited to explore the culinary scene of Colombia. To be fair, our expectations weren’t super high. I don’t think Colombia has one Michellin star between all it’s restaurants nor does it typically spring to mind when you think of the world’s favoured food haunts. BUT without too much super sleuthing, we found plenty of deliciousness.

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Two things are distinct hallmarks of Colombian cuisine… an abundance of delicious tropical fruits, many of which are native to Colombia and a penchant for food on wheels! Every second corner sees someone peddling something, from mangoes, to coffee, coconuts, grilled meats, empanadas, fresh ceviche of scallops or fish or prawns, avocados, arepas, fresh juices and so much more…

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Fresh coconut juice served in the best receptacle – it’s shell

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A typical fruit vendor selling mangoes

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Succulent grilled chorizo and corn on the cob

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Over twenty delicious flavours from pure pineapple or creamy coconut to more unique fruits like zapote (that tastes like chocolate), guanabana and cauruba mmmm

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This famed cevicheria in Santa Marta is nothing more than a kiosk on a corner but it has been packing in the locals for more than 33 years and a cup of the freshest scallop ceviche is about US $2.50!

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Fresh orange juice squeezed to order can be found seemingly on every block

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Piping hot spicy beef empanadas

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You’re not likely to miss this fruit vendor!

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Whilst Colombia is one of the biggest producers of top quality arabica beans, the coffee you find on the street is generally really disappointing. This vendor looked about as interested in serving it as we were in buying it : )

 

Aside from stunning Cartagena which we covered in our last post (click here to see the first post on Cartagena) we travelled north to two other major destinations; the iconic Parque Tayrona and the remote and little travelled La Guajira Peninsula.

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Tayrona National Park stretches for 35km along the Carribean Coast east of Santa Marta and is a famed for it’s stunning beaches, giant granite boulders and pristine jungle-clad hills. There are many points along the coast where you can camp and trekking through the park is a right of passage for most backpackers to Colombia. We were not really backpacking on this trip though that is exactly what we found ourselves doing to experience the delights of the rainforest-meets-sea Tayrona. With a tiny upgrade from a tent to a cabin I might add : )

Have a look at some of the stunning spots along the coast of Tayrona…

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An indigenous family en route to market

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After walking about ten kilometres through jungle we were pretty happy to see this orange juice stall and cevicheria! There is no road access so they must walk their produce in daily.

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Dwarfed by the boulders

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One luxurious property, Ecohabs, exists at the beginning of the park. For about US $400 a night you get an umbrella on a private beach. For the rest of us, it’s US $4/night in a tent, byo umbrella : )

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Brando taking a well deserved rest

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Not a bad spot for some lunch atop the rock!

We were then ready to travel further north, headed for two specific places on the La Guajira Peninsula, Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas. The Lonely Planet says of Cabo ‘It’s not for everyone – you are definitely off the grid here. It’s not uncommon to see Wayu men touting large rifles, or a goat-slaughtering in someone’s living room.’ It sounded like the perfect place to sandwhich some good old fashioned adventure in between the cushy-comfort of Cartagena that book-ended our break.

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About to head off from the relative civilisation of Riohacha…

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After about five hours of driving, we had some engine trouble. Lucky we had a mechanically-minded driver as this was as sophisticated as the petrol stations got around here:

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En route to Cabo, we stopped at a working salt mine which was strangely beautiful

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But we were pleased to reach Cabo after around seven hours in the car. There was pretty much NOTHING for hundreds of miles but desert and beach.

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And hammocks…

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After a long days travel and a night under the stars in Cabo de la Vela, we were ready to explore more of this remote area. The fact that Punta Gallinas was the northern most point of South America and was rumoured to be one of it’s most dazzling landscapes made our decision to push further north fairly straight forward.

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After three hours of boat travel

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A few hold ups

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A classy pit stop

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And some sunset four wheeling

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We arrived. And were so glad we had made the mission. Punta Gallinas is starkly surreal.

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Red sands roll into turquoise waters and the whole landscape just begs to be discovered. And so, we found ourselves on a five hour walk in the scorching sun led by two seven year old boys…

Along cacti fences to beautiful look outs

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And ancient ceremonial grounds

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We cheated to get to the next spot… steep sand dunes that provided a perfect slide into the ocean

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The simplest things really are often the best, and Colombia has no shortage of them; we spent our last night in Punta Gallinas dining on lobster caught hours before for $5

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Watched the sun set…

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And slept like babies in traditional hammocks. Colombia… thank you!!

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A big thanks also to Deb for letting us guest post and hopefully this puts Colombia on the radar for some of you. There’s never enough time or money to get everywhere you want but, in our humble opinion, Colombia is 100% worth shifting up a few spots on the list. Happy adventures everyone.


Responses

  1. Thank you Liz. I love the gorgeous girl in the orange dress!
    I should also point out that when Brando was a baby he didn’t sleep like a baby. He slept for 4 hours each day until he was about 12 months old…nice to see he is making up for it now.

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  2. Thank you for taking me too through the photographs… I loved them all. Love, nia

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  3. Colombia certainly is worth a visit. We had a wedding invitation that might have taken us there this summer but the bride cancelled the whole thing. The Latin lover is like fire, they say, but so is the Latin lady!

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  4. […] Hello again to everyone. As promised, here’s our little Part 2 on our Colombian escapade. Central tosource […]

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  5. Reblogueó esto en " Una Voz en el Silencio ".

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  6. How wonderful! Gotta love street vendors. But a big wow to the coast with the huge rocks along the beech!

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    • It looks like a fun place to go doesn’t it?

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  7. What an adventure! Thank you for sharing it with us.

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    • I hadn’t thought of visiting Colombia, but it seems like a good idea.

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  8. Reblogged this on Travel, Discover, Experience and commented:
    This is a fantastic account of a trip to the north of Colombia. Amazing photos too! Wish you were there? 🙂

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  9. Great shots of Punta Gallinas! And that fruit vendor is indeed gorgeous 🙂 Thanks for another fascinating post Liz. Colombia was always high on my list, but this has moved it higher still 🙂

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    • I think it looks great. I want to try some of that food.

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  10. I was delighted to get to read part 2. Loved it like a travel Doco the gorgeous girl in orange, the scenery the fruit vendors and sleeping in a low slung hammock. You two are good at reporting Hope to read more thank you.

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    • Perhaps I can persuade Liz to do a post on the Hamptons this summer.

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  11. I really enjoyed this post. Interesting and eye opening with fabulous photos

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  12. Hi Deb. I just responded to this post but it came up anonymous Lyn

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    • It happens sometimes. Colombia looks great, I’m glad Liz and Brando went there for us.

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  13. Hello, I love that they have come to know my country, took beautiful pictures. I hope to come back because there are many beautiful places to visit.

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  14. I really enjoyed reading your Colombian adventure off the beaten track – so much fun and more interesting! The woman in the orange dress looks stunningl! I agree with Dianne that Liz and Brandon are good at reporting and recommend they start their own blog. Would love to read their experiences about living in USA as well, as there are plenty of places to explore that are not on the tourist map. Thanks Brandon and Liz for sharing your insights into Columbian culture and everyday life!

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  15. the lady selling fruit looks great, what a colourful place to go, and I only thought of Columbia and drugs cartels….

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  16. What a fun post and I must admit that I didn’t know much about Colombia. I had a colleague from there but she didn’t talk much about it and so I assumed that it wasn’t that exciting but it looks wonderful! 😀

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  17. GREAT!! I want to go there now, hahaha, maybe next year…

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  18. What an absolutley fascinating landscape – the food looks fabulous too. Such wonderful memories to have tucked into your backpacks. The beautiful fruit vendor makes for a stunning photo.

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    • I’m sure Brando and Liz had a wonderful time in Colombia.

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  19. And yes, please, to a post on The Hamptons.

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  20. The beaches are stunning – each in it’s own way. I didn’t realize there were so many different landscapes in Columbia.
    I love the shot with the frozen fruit on a stick. Looks delicious.
    Terrific guest post! Thanks for sharing.

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    • I knew nothing about Colombia, it looks stunning.

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