Three months in Colombia came to an end today. I can't believe it's only been three months...it was an amazing trip.
As is the case with most people from the U.S., and perhaps around the world, I was honestly afraid to go to Colombia. Pretty much all I knew about the country was that coffee, bananas, and illegal drugs come from here. I knew about the drug lords, the violence, and the bad history. But unlike some, I could identify it on a map. :-)
What I didn't know about was that Colombia is an amazing place. Some of the many things I love about California are the mild climate and variety of scenery (oceans, beaches, mountains, deserts, snow, and everything in between). Colombia has all of that and a jungle too. I was amazed by the variety of what I've seen here.
There are definitely problems too. There's crime, violence, corruption (I'm told), and other things but I'm guessing that it's way better here than it used to be. There are police pretty much on every corner and I didn't witness anything the whole time I was here. In this respect, it didn't seem all that much different than some other places I've been. If it continues to improve and Colombia can better market itself to the world, there are huge tourism opportunities.
It's time to say my thanks and goodbyes, so first, thanks Karina, Julian, and the entire Rosales family in Puerto Inirida for being amazing hosts during my visit. I got to see and experience amazing things including some incredible hospitality. I'll always remember the beach outing where we had 24 people and all our stuff in one bongo. Actually, I'll remember that there were almost that many people at everything we did...what a big family! Muchas gracias por todo!
And of course, many thanks to the Peña family for putting up with me and letting me stay for so long without any complaints, or at least any I could understand. :-) Thanks to Fidelia for the fabulous meals and Joaquin for all the afternoon coffees we shared. Thanks also for the adventures in the Zona Cafetera and the fun times in Chiquinquira. I'll never forget it. Also, a special thanks to Ignacio for the use of his car...sorry about the scratch...seriously. I'll miss you guys (Pepe and Risis too) very much and can't wait to see you all again soon! Next time I hope to be able to speak something other than my crappy-Philadelphia-accented-Mexican-Barcelona Spanish with you!
And finally, special thanks to Diana for sharing your country and, more importantly, your family with me. Both are amazing and I'll never forget my time here.
Muchas gracias again and nos vemos pronto Colombia. No puedo esperar para regresar! Please remember to save me some Bandeja Paisa.