Crab Cay

Colombia

I was strolling around the old town of Cartagena recently when I stopped to admire the exotic fruit on a street corner. I pointed to pile of apple-sized red fruit and asked what it was. The fruit seller replied: “mejillas del gringo.” Translated, it means “cheeks of the gringo.”

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Cheeks of the Gringo

I was strolling around the old town of Cartagena recently when I stopped to admire the exotic fruit on a street corner. I pointed to pile of apple-sized red fruit and asked what it was. The fruit seller replied: “mejillas del gringo.” Translated, it means “cheeks of the gringo.”

If This Wall Could Talk- Yoga on the Fortress Wall

All those in the know know that Colombia has recently shed its illustrious past, emerging as a hotspot for the sophisticated traveler. And for good reason... from the grand colonial Spanish architecture to the charming cafe & boutique lined streets, the glorious private villas with balconies streaming with bougainvillea to the street plazas alive with salsa dancing & music, and the sultry Caribbean sunshine- Cartagena has something for everyone, all while maintaining its own identity. ... and then there is the wall. A rock-solid symbol of Cartagena’s past - be it the conquoring of the Spaniards, the invasion of the Pirates, the days of Noriega or the endless people who have walked it over the past 400 + years, this wall has remained strong. And a sure way to be a part of this history is to bring your yoga mat to the wall at sunset and sweat it out...its also a sure way to get lots of attention, but, as you will quickly find out, the Colombian’s are up for anything, anytime!

The Jewel of Latin America

Cartagena de Indias, Colombia: There are still undiscovered spots in the world that lure those who embrace true authentic experiences. Cartagena is just such a place. The historic walled city is a true gem in the world. Wander around the maze of cobbled stone streets, where bougainvillea covered balconies overlook open-aired cafes, historic churches and horse-drawn carriages.

Bougainvillea Covered Balconies

A common street scene on a wander around Cartagena. Go out and explore!

Caribbean Charm in Cartagena

Street scene from the Cartagena Historic Old Town

Rooftop hanging in the old city of Cartagena

I’m so fortunate to have Colombia part of my life and heritage. With absolutely gorgeous weather year-around, and the most incredible architecture, as well as a colorful culture, Cartagena is one of my favorite places on earth. And the ultimate destination to relax.

Straw hat

Panama hat but made from Ecuador, or panama hat made from Colombia? Whatever your choice is, the quality is as good, and here’s one from Colombia.

The colors of Cartagena

This vibrant walled city is begging to be discovered. Every alleyway has a different color that captivates you.

Urban Paintball

The aftermath of the opening parade for the International Theater Festival in Bogotá in April. I have no idea how they even got the paint this far up on the building -- or if it comes off.

Wandering La Candelaria

Looking for an authentic way to experience this Latin American metropolis? Wander La Candelaria – Bogotá's beautiful historic center filled with cafés, churches and museums. This section of Bogota is ideal to spend a half day wandering the streets, stopping in café's to enjoy Colombia’s world renowned coffee while people watching and preview some of the most beautiful churches in Latin America.

Art on the Avenue

Despite a dreary, rainy day - the art throughout the old neighborhood of La Candelaria brightened the visit. Vibrant colors down every street. Spent the day walking through the neighborhood, viewing the 14 churches that are sprinkled about and visiting the Botero Museum. Travel There. http://travelthere.tumblr.com/

Kids on school parade

I run into a carnaval like school parade I saw this two kids joining hands

Wandering the streets in Cartagena

Wandering the streets of Cartagena is pure ecstasy. This lively city must be one of the most romantic places in the world. The colorful buildings are draped with Bougainvillea and filled with secrets. Follow your nose to the salty crashing waves of this seaside city or find the perfect open air restaurant serving the freshest ceviche you’ve ever tasted.

Exploring El Centro in Cartagena

Wander the picturesque streets of El Centro in Cartagena, Colombia.

Richly Clouded Memories

You never know when you’re in the moment how you’re going to look back at it years later, but I think this picture sums up the exuberant, freewheeling joy and sense of aliveness that sometimes comes with travel. And I think I felt it at the time. When Kate, Bing, Sarah, June, the other girl from the hostel in Salento, and I were taking goofy silhouette shots in the dense fog of the cloud forest on top of La Montaña in the central Colombian highlands, I knew I had to cherish the moment. By that point in my travels, I had made enough real connections with fellow travelers over the years that I knew how deep and meaningful these intense, fleeting relationships can be because of shared, unique experiences. I knew that paths cross randomly sometimes, and you’re left forever thinking about people who are spread across the world. What brought this particular group of travelers together was a tough hike up to the vista overlooking the Valle de Cocora. We had hiked for a few hours, through several microclimates, and across rickety wooden bridges that would only support one person at a time. We did this because we wanted to see the famed Palma de Cera, or wax palm, which the valley is known for. And we wanted to see the supposedly splendid view of the lush, rolling valley. But instead we barely saw each other because a thick, bewildering cloud settled in and obscured our vision. So we goofed off, took dorky pictures of each other, and made sure we would always remember.

The Foggiest Notion

What I didn’t see from the vista atop La Montaña in the Andean highlands of central Colombia’s enchanting Valle de Cocora: rolling, coffee-covered hills and valleys streaked by every shade of green that plunge, bend, and fold for miles on end. What I did see: a freaking unicorn! Okay, not quite. But a unicorn would not have been out of place on that mystical mountaintop in the dreamlike cloud forest near the sleepy town of Salento in the Zona Cafetera, Colombia’s main coffee-growing region. What I actually saw was the gradual appearance of a pure white stallion, which materialized onto the hazy mountain trail from a swirling mist. It was the stuff of cheesy fantasy novel covers and 1970s heavy metal record sleeves. Of course, the only thing missing was a horn. In that nebulous environment, I also saw the area’s star attraction—the Palma de Cera, or wax palm, which is Colombia’s national tree. The tallest palms in the world, they can stretch more than 200 feet high on thin, lanky trunks. The silhouettes towered overhead, and some resembled banner-less flagpoles, their palms lost to the gloomy, gray atmosphere. With our vision limited to about 50 feet, my hiking companions and I didn’t see much from that high vista (we did on the way up and down). But that shadowy setting was unforgettable.

Colombia in the Clouds

El Valle del Cocora, a national natural park in the central cordillera of the Andes, is the main attraction of the colorfully-painted town of Salento. The valley is known for its towering, skinny wax palm trees, which are the tallest in the world. One can hike the forest by foot or on horseback. The end of the lush trail leads to the ‘Santuario de Calibris,’ or hummingbird sanctuary; an area where the small, hurried birds fly freely and abundantly. The typical way to arrive at the park is to take a Willy, an old jeep from WWII times, from the Plaza Bolivar in Salento. They leave at various times in the morning: show up early to ask the drivers when they leave. It’s well worth the 3.000 Colombian pesos ($1.50 USD) each way to reach this lush and mysterious valley in the clouds!

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