17th November 2015
Office Assistant Davina was recently in Colombia, where despite having a wonderful time with turtle conservation by day and dancing between dinner courses at night, it was still us she was thinking of us while down at la playa...
The view from my window on a chartered flight between Medellin and Bahia Solano. Here the adventure truly began as we soared high into the sky, leaving the bustling city below us in search of the dark sandy beaches of the pacific coast. My eyes did not tire of the vast expanse of jungle stretching out for miles and miles beneath us. The inaccessibility of where I was headed hit me at this moment and I felt exhilarated.
They don’t say ‘go to Colombia for the food’, but I loved what I found. Besides the copious amounts of fresh fish, my favorite dish was definitely Ajiaco – a warm brothy chicken and potato soup topped with avocado, sour cream and corn on the cob. I would also recommend the traditional Colombian dessert - Chancacas - made from shredded coconut and panela. My favourite drink was not coffee as you might have expected, but actually hot chocolate! They mixed melted chocolate and coconut water with sprinklings of chili and salt to make the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted.
The late night trek along the beaches of El Valle in search of turtles. As part of a local conservation project, members of the village spend their evenings patrolling the coast to find spots where turtles have laid their eggs. I joined them in search of these eggs to transfer them to a safer area where they can be protected from poachers and wild dogs. After 2 hours, walking in silence by moonlight along the beach, huge waves crashing at our feet we finally found her! Cocooned into a sand dune, we were just in time to catch the delivery.
I wish I had longer to explore the rest of Colombia. The people are more than hospitable and the passion they have for their own country and culture was infectious. I wish I could have seen Cartagena as well!
Tips for travellers?
Learn some Spanish before you go! Although many Colombians do speak English, in the remoter regions like Choco, English speakers are few and far between so it would be really handy to have a few phrases to converse with the friendly locals you meet along the way.
We arrived at a restaurant in Santa Marta for dinner one evening. After ordering our meal I was surprised to see the tables and chairs being stacked away immediately by the waiters. Suddenly the music began, the entire restaurant was up on their feet and moving their hips in time to the music and I was flung across the floor. I had heard about the Salsa in Colombia but this I was not expecting – “is it normal to order your food, dance and then eat?” I asked my Colombian friend, “Of course” she said, “What else would you do in between?”