When we announced this, the first thing my mother says is along the lines of "Can't you pick a friendly country?"
Well, I think one of the reasons that we want to visit Colombia is to dispel myths like this that are still floating around.
It's like our experiences in Mexico. I added it up, and we have spent a total of 28 months touring Mexico. Yes, almost two and a half years in a country that many Americans and Canadians won't set foot in because it's "too dangerous".
Other than one bad experience when we got mugged in Zacatecas, we have never had a problem. In fact, we haven't even seen anybody having a problem. And this isn't because we were holed up on a resort or behind the walls of a gated expat community. We were actually out there exploring most of the time.
So how is it that we avoided all of that danger? Well, maybe because it's not quite as dangerous as people think that it is.
And apparently Colombia suffers from the same misconceptions.
Back in the 1990's, Colombia really was a dangerous place. In fact, the city of Medellin was listed as the world's most dangerous city. A place where several car bombs per day exploded as Pablo Escobar's cocaine cartel went to war with the government. And the rest of the country was embroiled in a civil war where kidnapping and murder and armed conflict were common.
In 1993, Colombia had the highest homicide rate in the world, at 420 per 100,000, and the city of Medellin was twice that! (Today, Honduras is listed as the worst at 85 per 100,000)
But two decades later, Colombia is not the same country. In fact in 2013, the city was named "Innovative City of the Year" by the Wall Street Journal. And there are many recent articles regarding the reinvention of the city. Tourism has blossomed and in fact, we're planning on spending at least a week just in Medellin itself.
And of course it's not only Medellin. Other large cities worth visiting are Bogota and Cartagena. And then many smaller cities, and national parks, and beaches and coastline. Six weeks may not be enough!
When we were in New York City we stayed with Ike, a couchsurfer who's mission statement on his couchsurfing page reads...
To make sure everyone I cross paths with visits COLOMBIA at least once!
Ike was born and raised in Colombia, but now makes NYC his home. And yes, it was Ike who originally told us that we need to visit Colombia, so we're happy that he'll be following along and giving us some pointers and tips on our journey.
Colombia's tourism trade is still young, and we're happy to be visiting at a time when most people are still afraid to go. But we're excited at the opportunity to tell you about a country that is trying to forget a dark time in it's past and is looking towards the future.
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