Day 22: Colombia

Day 22: Friday, 8 May 2020 – Cartagena, Columbia (10.3932° N, 75.4832° W) (8,959 Covid-19 cases & 415 deaths as of today)

Today is a bittersweet day on our around the world travel adventure; depending on where you sit as a traveler or event organizers. It is the last day we get to project our curious egos into the world. So, for our travelers it kind of sucks: the end is near, it’s over, mundane normal daily routines beckon and the harsh reality of our real lives is just around the corner. No more crazy ass scavenges to figure out, no more chance global encounters with amazing people, no more otherworldly foods to indulge, no more traveling around the world like precious few.

But for us, it’s yea! We made it! No one got sick and died, no one got hit by a car and died, no one succumbed to any number of worldly misadventures and died. No one died! Yea! A big sigh of relief welcomes us when we all board that final flight back to North America, with everyone present and accounted for…relief. Ahhh… no more logistics unanswered, no more already answered questions to reanswer, no more petty personal issues to address, no more service people to financially assuage, no more egos to feed, personalities to manage and malcontents to kid glove. Free at last, free at last, thank the travel gods, I am free at last! Okay, I jest, of course. It’s really not that bad; but we are really truly happy that no one died. Did I mention that?

So today we are in Colombia, another great South American travel destination that to few North Americans consider. The lingering effects of cocaine cartels and ghost of Pablo Escobar I guess. But he died in 1993! Twenty-seven years ago folks, things have changed. Bogota is a big bustling cultured city. But places like Medellín, the Pacific coast near Buenaventura and the Caribbean port of Cartagena are spectacular Colombian options.

So, we have twin Colombian memories today…and our first one comes from Marine, a member of the ATX Traveling Bohemians during the 2018 event and takes place in Bogota…

“We arrived In Bogata around Midnight on April 25th which was also our (Greg & Marnie) 20th wedding anniversary. Our taxi ride to the airport was a little eerie. It was raining and no one was out. Street after street in a town of 8 million people and not a sole to seen. We arrived at our lovely hotel in the La Candeleria district (historic), great architecture and cobbled streets. When we arrived at our room there was a bottle of champagne, strawberries and a trail of rose pedals leading from the door to the bed and floating in the bathtub with little candles lit. Pamela, the true Ringmistress had really surprised us and out did herself!

So the next morning, off we went to explore Bogata. Find political graffiti, easy it’s everywhere and very good. Took a tram car ride to the top of the hill (Montserrat) for a panoramic view of the entire city. Bogata is huge and goes for as far as the eye can see in all directions. We visited the Botero Museum (free) it’s modern and hip with dozens of Botero pieces. I had never heard of him. Botero’s work can best be described as depictions of very, VERY voluptuous forms, often in the nude. I’ll stop there as my daughters  would call what I’d say as ‘fat shaming’. We also saw the botanical gardens, the main square with thousands of pigeons and interviewed people on the street about Columbia’s feeling on Venezuela’s economic instabilities. We ran into a group of college kids whose assignments was to interview tourists for one of their classes. We did an exchange, they interviewed us and we interviewed them. They talked at length about Venezuela since it had recently fallen apart economically (no food, no medicine and very few jobs) and Columbia had been overrun with people fleeing. But the Columbians believed they needed to help their “brothers” even though the sheer numbers of Venezuelans  had overwhelmed the country, especially the medical care system. How refreshing thinking back on that…to be kind to those less fortunate in desperate times. We loved Bogota and it was made even more special as we were also traveling with our very dear friends Zoe & Rainey on a non competitive year so we could keep up!”

Our last memory also 2015 from my son Lucca of  Team Chalmers who was with us in 2015 in Cartagena…

“My favorite memory from The Global Scavenger Hunt, although this is hard, because I have so many fond memories of past trips—I have gone around the world five times now!—but I have to give it to Colombia. It involves snorkeling over a big, colorful, fish-filled reef. We took a boat from the old walled city of Cartagena to who knows where in some crazy place way out in the ocean…until finally we arrive at a nice little island (Corales del Rosario National Park). We had a great lunch, and then started swimming in the crystal blue, pristine, and oh so warm water. It was better than Fiji, better than BC, and better than my Nana’s pool. We saw what looked like millions of different types of fish. It was amazing that I also saw a very little fluorescent/neon pink jellyfish. It was pretty cool, but I kept my distance just In case. All in all, I wish all of us got to participate in the wonders my parents have created. But unfortunately we cannot this year, everyone please stay safe.”

Ice cream in horse carriage…traveling is good.

Think of it…we heard from at least one participant for every year, except 2016?! Always the underachievers I guess! 🙂

Tomorrow…we return to North America for our final day and the crowning of the…

Stay smart, safe and well. Till tomorrow…