Along the course of our adventures, we have learned a number of important facts about traveling. We thought we'd share the basics with you - in case you're planning a trip to Colombia sometime soon! Take our advice, and don't learn everything the hard way. Shawn can attest to the importance of keeping your eye on your pack and only bringing stuff you can stand to lose. Abeja and Kevin learned about the Consulate's warning AFTER they traveled through a guerrilla war zone. May you be well prepared for your next trip. Happy Trails!
1) Don't Get Stuck in Colombia - Keep several photocopies of your passport, airline tickets and travelers' check numbers on you at all times and leave copies with someone you trust and can access at home. Imagine yourself being asked htese questions and not having copies of that sutff: Who are you? How do you planning on getting home? What proof do you have that someone stole your money?
Unless you have documentation, you're going to have to deal with a lot of hassles, extra expenses, and time defending yourself to the American Embassy. That's just the upside - you could be stuck indefinitely in Colombia without money for food or shelter.
3) Homework! - Awww, but, this is vacation. Still, the more you know about Colombia before you go there, the more you're going to get out of your trip. Check out travel books, the web, and your local library to learn more about the country. Focus on what interests you, be it geography, trekking, or the Indians of the Sierra Nevada.
5) Dondé está el bano? and Cuanta cuesta? - If you only know two Spanish phrases, memorize these. "Where is the bathroom?" and "How much does it cost?" You will use these phrases repeatedly every day. A Spanish/English dictionary is an excellent investment. Politeness, hand gestures and a smile can get you a long way. Muchas gracias.
1) Jail - Jail is the worst place to be in Colombia. Avoid it at all costs.
2) Guerrilla Warfare - Guerrilla warfare is slightly better than jail. At least, you have a chance of escape. Check with the Colombian Consulate to find out which areas to avoid. The U.S. State Travel Warnings issues reports on travel safety. You can find them at http://travel.state.gov/colombia_warning.html. Sometimes, they recommend avoiding the entire country. They have a strong warning out right now, but that didn't deter us.
3) My Favorite Army Surplus Pants - No matter how comfortable they are, don't bring khaki colored clothing or army surplus articles. You do not want to look like a soldier or a guerrilla. You'll increase your chances of being shot.
5) Nakedness is not good! - "It was so hot that I thought it was perfect weather for shorts and a t-shirt." Wrong! Mosquitoes are prevalent throughout Colombia, especially in the rainforest regions, along certain parts of the Caribbean coast, and during the rainy season. Itchy bites can cause a lot of discomfort. Wear long pants and long-sleeved shorts, use mosquito repellent, and avoid highly scented perfume or aftershave. "Let's run barefoot through the rainforest." Noooooo! The most common form of worms, hookworms, is usually caught by walking barefoot on infected soil. The worms bore through the skin, attach to the intestinal wall, and suck your blood. Worms can also be contracted if you eat unwashed vegetables or undercooked meat.
Of course, one of the best ways to prepare yourself is to continue following The Odyssey online! Stay tuned for our latest and greatest adventures!
Guerrilla War: A Daily Reality in Colombia
Making a Difference - The Fate of Colombian Killers
Making a Difference |
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