I’ll admit, when I first started planning this trip to South America a few months back, I really didn’t know much about Colombia. My “knowledge” was, like many, limited to what I saw on Narcos, so naturally I felt a bit apprehensive about coming here alone. But as I began doing my research for the trip, Colombia kept coming up and in the most positive of contexts. The excitement of the travelers who went before me was transferable and, after reading again and again about about how safe they had felt, how much they loved the Colombian people and how they wished they had had more time here, I excitedly began making plans to begin my South America trip in Colombia.
Since the hype I was reading about all over the internet is what sparked my decision to come here, it really should not have come as a surprise that there are A LOT of people traveling Colombia at the moment. Yet I have still been taken aback by the vast number of tourists everywhere I have gone so far; people of all ages and from all walks of life. Prompting me to ask myself- why exactly is it that Colombia is so hot for tourism right now?
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Colombia? Most people are going to say cocaine, cartels, violence, corruption- i.e. the Colombia portrayed in Narcos. I got many a raised eyebrow from friends and family when I told them I would be beginning my travels in Colombia for precisely this reason. What people don’t realize is, apart from the fact that the history which the show is based in has been seriously dramatized and embellished for the show, is that it is just that: history! The events in Colombia that are portrayed in Narcos took place over 20 years ago. In the last 20 years, most of the criminals and characters that the plot is based on have killed themselves off or been locked away for good. 10 years ago the city of Medellin was the murder capital of the world; today it is one of the most progressive cities in the whole of South America. Indeed, the Colombian government has been hard at work using innovative methods to restore peace and make their country safe again, for themselves and for outsiders (see videos below for a more in depth explanation of Colombia’s transformation)
They have done an exceptional job, and nothing is a better testament to that than the booming tourism industry here at the moment. The coast is clear, the doors are open, and those who are brave enough to come and see it for themselves will be rewarded with a destination that is still fresh and relatively unspoilt by mass tourism, ripe for the exploring.
Colombia is blessed with a near perfect climate and beautiful, diverse scenery from the beaches of the coast to the mountains of the coffee growing regions. They have COFFEE, tropical fruits, delicious cuisine, and big cities booming with arts and culture. Furthermore, since the peso is still devalued, you can enjoy all of this for cheap. And the people are amazing. I have to say that for me, what sets Colombia apart from other countries I have traveled is that the people here seem to truly care for their tourists. If you talk to them, you realize Colombians are upset about Narcos. Apart from the fact that it has created more misconceptions about their country, it glorifies Pablo Escobar and a dark and painful part of their past that they are trying to get over. Of course, it’s pretty difficult to do that when one of the hottest shows on television right now is cashing in on the drama. Colombians are working hard to fight the stereotypes and show that they are so much more than their past.
They are. If there is one thing that I want to accomplish with this blog, it is to help clear up these misconceptions about travel, places, and people that perpetuate ignorance, fear, and negativity in our world. How sad that, while everybody knows about Narcos and Colombia’s gritty past, most people have no idea about the extraordinary, innovative measures undertaken by the people of Colombia and their government- unique on this planet-to achieve peace in their country (Again please see educational videos below for an explanation of how Colombia has pulled this off) The rest of the world could really take a lesson from how Colombia has dealt with their problems, if only they could get over their ignorance about what Colombia is really like.
Colombia has everything it takes to be the perfect travel destination, and now that the internal problems that kept it off-limits for tourism for so long have been resolved, the doors are open and Colombians are eager to impress outsiders with all that their country has to offer. There’s no better time than now to lay your misconceptions aside and explore this dynamic country,and fall in love like so many of us have here.
Please take the time to learn about Colombia’s efforts to restore peace in their country:
Unfortunately I was not able to find the above video with English subtitles. The majority of it is in English but there are some interviews in Spanish that do not have subtitles. Still very worth viewing.