Colombia after ongoing exploration of almost 3 month and now more than 6 month outside from Colombia. The goal of this article is to write like I did for the Retro Perspective Paraguay article a while ago. It’s a interdisciplinary mix of: biological, geographical and
Retro Perspective Colombia
The conclusion so far is that Colombia is not what we where looking for. I’m my naivety and ignorance :-) We hoped to find the Colombia I knew from living there during 85 – 86 and when I visited again during a few weeks in the year 1997. Of course that Colombia had long been exchanged with a totally different Colombia. Change is the only constant in life … In my memories I had a clear beautiful, romantic, chaotic picture of Colombia and its warm hearted people. Back then it was most normal NOT be on time etc. nowadays thanks to the great globalization Colombians are more on time than a few Swiss citizen I know… The so called progress / modernization and globalization seems to have eaten my Colombia … in a breeze of air – record time. Never less we have met old and new friends and it was after all again very enriching.
Our expectations where very high but Colombians tourist agency say that: “The risk of Colombia is you may want to never leave.” This obviously did not work out as planned because right now we are in Ecuador.
On the other hand thinking about history we are still in the same region – just think back a few hundred years: La Gran Colombia. In 1819 the revolutionary congress still euphoric with victory of the Independence wars (Spanish domination of the continent ceased. Slavery, and the monopoly of commerce, taxes and duties where history.) proclaimed a new nation: La Gran Colombia, a new state merging Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador (although Ecuador and large parts of Venezuela were still technically under Spanish rule). Already by 1830 The Gran Colombia had split into three separate countries and Simon Bolívar’s dream of a sacred union of the nations he had freed came to an end even before he died. This is why today Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador have extremely similar national flags: Yellow, Blue and Red horizontal stripes. A bit later in Latin American history our friendly “Terrorist” or “Hero”, depending on the labeling, the Argentinian revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara who after winning the revolution in Cuba tried the same thing in Bolivia trying to re-unity south American countries like Simon Bolivar. It clearly did not work, until his death, Che was killed by the CIA in Bolivia, the Bolivian people where not aware of the existence of Che. There have been different approaches later to unify various countries in South and Latin America but none of them seem to have had the right motivation until today…
Back to our findings in Colombia. Most people where energetic, genuine, extremely friendly and welcoming, although we also met as many not friendly minded people. I guess it’s normal nowadays. We where lucky to find some similar minded people who also care about our environment and the future. Most people from the countryside which lived a simple life where just so open and helpful like if time had not changed anything since 1985. It seems to us that the cities from Bogota to Santa Marta, Medellin, Armenia and Perreira where invaded with “zombies” that are living the “modern dream” of having a job they don’t like to spent it on stuff they don’t care… It’s a bit blunt but that was my observation in a nutshell. We met many other tourists and sadly a lot of those trash tourist invade Colombia to consume cheap drugs … How ignorant in a country with the history of Colombia. More than 50 years of La Violencia, the so called: Colombian armed conflict. Another ongoing asymmetric war to increase influence. But what the hell … Most people seem to ignore history anyway on this planet. So many historical déjà vu’s …
Skyscrapers in Bogota, Colombia
Metrocable in Medellin, Colombia
Colombia Map Region Overview
Medellin was our favorite city in Colombia!
Medellin the good
The capital Bogota seems ages behind them and the climate is so much better in Medellin. Bogota climate is pretty hardcore. Very fresh mornings and before lunch burning hot sunshine, then maybe a strong rain and it gets chilly again, but not for long then clouds may arise and before twilight 3 hours of bright hot sun. The night is very cold on 2500 m o s l for us arriving from the sub tropical climate of Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia more than 2000 km distance away and with 2000 meters of higher altitude not something we where really taken by surprise. On the other hand Medellin has a much more stable human friendly weather which stresses the body less. They call it the romantically “The eternal spring” climate.
Architecture of the roof in the botanical garden of Medellin, Colombia
The Botanical garden of Medellin is a must-to-go place even if you don’t care about anything at all you need to visit the Botanical garden of Medellin. It’s like a big lush green oasis within the urban city. Many people seem to enjoy the park to reload their batteries or just spend some time with their loved ones. On the site you will find some very unusual and interesting Architecture structures which show that Architecture can be very bold and creative in Latinamerica too.
Metro (urban train) in Medellin, Colombia
Medellin has a great public transportation system: Metro (urban train) and Metrocable (gondola lift). This made me remember the Skytrain in Bangkok, Thailand. The Metro in Medellin is very quick and absolutely secure and additionally super in-expensive. Most of the time during our 4 weeks stay in Medellin we explored the city strolling around the streets.
Medellin the bad
The part of Medellin we did not enjoy that much was the moment we realized that “narco chic” is something very trendy currently there. While we went out to enjoy the nightlife we saw so much silicone like never before in life. Botox and much more was part of the mix but I’m no expert to write about that subject. I don’t know if those girls and women don’t realize that being like that looks rather super cheap… Despite the fact that Colombia has fallen long ago from the 1st place much lower in the narcotrafficking countries rank and most likely now IMHO Mexico is the sad Nr.1 regarding “War on Drugs” in all Latinamerica. Additionally the so called “War on Drugs” is one of the worst and most ineffective ongoing wars so far. Clearly nothing to be proud of or to think that “narco chic” is cool.
The Coffee Triangle
We stayed 4 weeks in the region internationally known as the “Eje Cafetero” in Colombia. Colombia’s Coffee Triangle in the departments of Pereira, Manizales, and Armenia (which has absolutely nothing to do with the country of Armenia by the way). This is the region where supposedly the best coffee is grown in all Colombia.
Now this may have been true not so long ago. Nowadays many other latinamerican countries and regions outside of Colombia have surpassed the “Eje Cafetero” in quantity and quality. Don’t forget. Coffee is endemic to the continent of Africa… and was “imported” to latinamerica. We discovered that the climate in the coffee triangle was indeed very blessed and so the earth because of the many volcanoes around which erupt from time to time and have been spreading all the good minerals in the soil. We saw many many bananas plantations and many other tropical fruits there. But the big business now is made with tourists and not any more with agriculture. Most of the properties have been strongly fragmented and there is almost no natural left landscape there.
In the coffee triangle region we where amazed to see so much beautiful vivid green and yellow Guadua bamboo. It’s also interesting that rich people don’t like to use it because it’s so cheap compared to wood. Well we do love bamboo.
Mobile internet in Colombia
Another experience in Colombia TiGo also operates cell phones and data plans. So I got a data-plan with 10GB of data and it worked indeed very well. But in Colombia with TiGo it as impossible to see how many GB I have used so far. I checked about more than 4 times in different even with TiGo-Staff and then I just thought well as long as it works why should I care.
Vivid jungle river not representative for the current drought in Colombia
Climate situation in Colombia: Drought
We where exploring different regions in Colombia to find out if there was a sustainable place for our project PermaTree. Many regions we visited very heavily affected by the El Niño weather phenomena for period of more than 2-3 years. Heavy agriculture and pasture land for cows are the leading cause here we believe. There are very little natural primary forest left in Colombia apart from the Amazon region and nature reserves. You cannot believe how many rivers and waterfalls we have seen which where literally dry since a longer period of time. The ongoing Drought Colombia is suffering has been called the worst drought in the country’s history. According to meteorologists, the situation is likely to get worse. Authorities in central Colombia have closed six national parks amid fears that drought could spur more forest fires. In Cundinamarca alone, more than 1,300 hectares of Andean forests have gone up in flames. This year, 15 indigenous children have died from dehydration and diseases related to lack of water. According to the Colombian Livestock Federation, nearly 60,000 animals have died as a result of the dry summer.
The beach of Palomino near Santa Marta, Colombia
We witnessed with our own eyes the situation in the Caribbean coast in Colombia, Palomino, Taganga, Santa Marta, Cartagena and Baranquilla serious water issues. As usual while the poor suffer from Colombia’s drought, the wealthy don’t seem to notice (vice news article).
Green jungle lizard: Colombia is the the 2nd most bio-diverse country of the planet
During our exploration we went to see a interesting documentary which just was aired in the cinemas in Colombia: Colombia Magia Salvaje (2015). A masterwork and one very interesting detail is that’s it’s not sponsored by the Government or the tourist department but by many small and one bigger sponsor Grupo Éxito (supermarket). This shows us that the people are starting to care about their environment and that’s a great start.
It took five years to shoot the 85 locations and 20 ecosystems that appear in Colombia: Wild Magic, a documentary film that explores the country’s landscape. Its British director, Mike Slee, says that before accepting the proposal from Ecoplanet Foundation and Grupo Éxito to make the film, the only things he knew about Colombia were that it was a country full of jungles and marked by violence, but that he ended up discovering a “hidden treasure”.
Panoramic view from above the mountain village of Minca, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia
People – The Colombian identity
IMHO Colombia has had a massive loss of identity to comply with the global modern world standards. Hopefully our friends at the propaganda machine in Hollywood keep on producing such shitty blockbusters and the Latinamerican, French and European cinema can wake up from their winter paralysis. ;-) as you may know I’m half french and love good movies and good science-fiction (which is hard to find) so I have a strong opinion about this.
Did you know that the missing identity is so strong in Colombia that the Rich believe they are English or French. The Middle class thinks they are from the USA and the poor: Mexican because of all the Mexican telenovelas they consume.
Demographics: Colombia is ethnically diverse, its people descending from the original native inhabitants, Spanish colonists, Africans originally brought to the country as slaves, and 20th-century immigrants from Europe and the Middle East, all contributing to a diverse cultural heritage. Along the northern portion of Colombia’s Pacific coast, over 80% of the population is black.
Cartagena de Indias is the undisputed queen of the Caribbean coast, a fairy-tale … too many tourists
How can I tell? Well in our current global world where every Barcelona soccer team fan walks around with the official sponsored T-shirt and the same haircut like the top soccer fans. No difference if you are in Paraguay, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador or Colombia. This makes it much easier to compare and tell if a region is over or under rated. The more information the better of course. Another individual may believe the opposite that’s okay. We still live in a supposedly free world where almost anybody can express their thoughts freely. Sadly there are more than just a few exceptions here but hopefully less and less in a near future. Another sign is when to many people want to invert in real estate and truly believe that the existing market will minimum double or triple every calendar year …
Nothing can top the colorful Caribbean cities
Cartagena de Indias