My name is James, and I’m one part of the travel team here at Coast to Costa. I’ve spent the last few years working with our travel groups in Cuba, and as a Colombian-American, I’ve been desperately wanting to bring all you travelers down to Colombia with us to explore one of Latin America's best kept secrets. I wanted to take a moment to share with you, like Oprah, a few of my favorite things about Colombia, why I love it, and why it’s a special place to visit:
La Comida: Colombian cuisine is a mixture of many different cultures and regions and you’ll find something delicious for everyone along Colombia’s Caribbean coast. You’ll never be too far from a fresh fish or lobster, served with a side of plantains “Patacon” and my personal favorite, Arroz con Coco, or coconut rice. Fruits are always in season down here, and you’ll be impressed by the extensive amount of options (pro tip: any juice with Lulo is where it’s at). There aren’t many places where you’re gonna find this combination of food, fruits, and sazón. Oh, and coffee - Colombians know a thing or two about that, too.
2. El Paisaje: I might be a tiny bit biased here, but Colombia is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Bordered by two oceans and the Andes mountains, Colombia has gorgeous beaches, rainbow-colored rivers, snow capped volcanoes, emerald-green valleys, windswept deserts, and even a little corner of the Amazon. It’s this variation in landscape that makes it no surprise that Colombia is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world with more species of birds than anywhere else.
3. La Musica: Colombians love a good party and the country is famous for its music and nightlife. Music and dance is in our blood and such a huge part of Colombian life, you’d have to climb to the top of a mountain to find absolute silence. You’ll hear everything from Salsa, to Cumbia, to Champeta, to Vallenato, to Reggaeton. There’s always a festival, a party, a street corner hangout, or any excuse to set the volume to 11 and break out some rum or aguardiente.
4. La Gente: Ask anyone who’s spent time there and they’ll agree - Colombians are some of the warmest, friendliest, and genuinely hospitable people you’ll ever meet. Travelers regularly point out how Colombians will not just give them directions to a bus stop but will walk them there. If there’s one stereotype that should come to mind for Colombians, it should be about how exceptionally friendly and welcoming they are to travelers. There’s a reason Colombians are always number one on those “Happiest Nations” lists =)
5. La Energia: I don’t know what it is exactly, but there’s an energy, a vibe I get whenever I’m traveling through Colombia. It might be the first four items on this list, bundled with a long held desire for peace, but there’s an overwhelming feeling of positivity I feel when I’m down there. It’s true, the country has endured decades of hardship, but finally, is going through a renaissance both domestically and on the global stage. Colombians, possessing an infectious degree of optimism and passion for their culture, are doing their best to rewrite our story and have the final word on what it means to be Colombian.