Our Assistant Brand Assistant Joanna explores Colombia’s UNESCO Heritage city-by-the-sea and then treks deep into bush at Tayrona National Park.
Why did you pick Colombia for this trip?
I’m first generation Mexican but I actually have a Colombian uncle and have always been curious about the country. I was a bit cautious because of past issues of crime and drugs but things are changing rapidly in the country. Cartagena is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is widely considered safe for travelers and very welcoming. We found a clean and charming B&B and took a few days to explore the old city with its atmospheric walls and colonial atmosphere.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d pass on about Cartagena?
You might be tempted after a long day to go back to your hotel or B&B and chill…but don’t. Take an afternoon siesta, like the locals, and then head back out for Cartagena’s music and dance-filled night life. The city doesn’t sleep and neither should you.
Why Tayrona National Park as an add-on? Isn’t it far from Cartagena?
My boyfriend and I wanted to experience a wilderness trek as well as a city and we wanted to stay on the coast. We also wanted to be on a beautiful white sand beach and although you might think Cartagena is a beach town, it really isn’t. It’s not where you go to get to the beach. Getting to Tayrona from our B&B in Cartagena was an adventure in itself. We took small “chicken” buses. They call them that because locals often transport farm animals on them and then we trekked by foot into the jungle to stay in a very rustic eco lodge.
How rustic was it?
Our eco lodge had no glass in the windows so wildlife was free to come into the hut and join us. We encountered the largest frog I’d ever seen and a spider the size of my palm in our shower. Then there were the besuconas (kissing lizards), that get their name from the kissing sound they make. They were all over the ceiling. We were definitely in the wild.
How were the beaches at Tayrona?
Pristine and beautiful. I packed our Go Clean Wet Suit bag so I could change into trekking clothes after swimming. We spent a lot of time in the warm, blue waters. Definitely recommend it!
What was your most vivid sense memory? Music? Tastes?
Everywhere we went we kept hearing the song, "La Bicicleta" by Shakira and Carlos Vives. There’s a line in the song that goes: "Que si a Piqué algún día le muestras el Tayrona Después no querrá irse pa' Barcelona" which means, “If you someday show Piqué (her Spanish soccer player boyfriend) Tayrona, he won't want to go back to Barcelona.”
What are some cultural differences to be aware of?
Colombians love to dance and they love music. You’ll see music and dancing everywhere and it’s not just for tourists. Practically, there’s this thing they do in the shops called payment by “cuota.” It means that you’re going to pay in installments on your credit card (fees apply). So if you’re asked, just say “una cuota” or one payment.
What was the Flight 001 product that you couldn’t have done without?
We were in Colombia and Peru and were traveling for two weeks, so my Spacepak was indispensable. I was able to get all my clothes for the trip into that bag and the laundry/clean feature helped me keep track of my clothes from city-to-city and from city to jungle!