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Latin America Team Dispatch

The Trekkers' Survival Guide to Colombia

On this World Trek, we have learned many things about traveling. We want to share some of these with you - in case you're planning a trip to Colombia sometime soon. Take our advice, and don't learn everything the hard way. Happy trails!

3 "Thank My Lucky Stars I Thought of This!" Tips

If you can fit inside your suitcase, it is probably too big!
1) Huge Suitcases are a Drag - Think about what you are going to be doing the entire trip - moving. Stick to the things you will need: a backpack, comfortable shoes, flip-flops (for germ infested bathrooms), a basic set of clothes, and a waterproof jacket, a travel alarm clock, a flashlight, a camera and film, an extra pair of glasses or contacts. What else would you need? Keep your stuff with you at all times or locked up in a hostel and definitely leave the jewelry and expensive watches at home.

Tap Water = Bad, Bottled Water = Good
2) Drink Coke, Not Water - Well, you should drink water, too, but not from the tap. Stomach upsets are the most common travel health problem. Stick to bottled water and don't drink anything made with tap water - that means NO SNO CONES! Hot drinks such as tea and coffee should be ok since the water is boiled.

3) 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? Learning a handful of Spanish phrases and numbers will make communication much simpler. Politeness, hand gestures and a smile can get you a long way. Muchas gracias.

3 "How Could I Be So Stupid?!" Things To Avoid

1) Jail - Jail is the worst place to be in Colombia. Avoid it at all costs.

Click image for larger view
We recommend that you leave your favorite army outfit at home! caption
2) 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 rebel. You'll increase your chances of being shot!

3) I'll Put All My Money in My Pocket to Keep it Safe - That's a great way to lose all of your money. You should only keep a small amount of money in your pocket. Pickpocketing is a common method of theft. The favorite settings for thieves are crowded places: markets, fiestas, bus terminals, and festivals. Keep a day pack or a fanny pack hidden and strapped to your front so you can keep a constant eye on it.

You should read the State Department alerts BEFORE you go
5) Nakedness is not good! - There are mosquitoes everywhere in Colombia, especially in the rainforest regions. Itchy bites can cause a lot of discomfort. Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts and use mosquito repellant. And wear shoes! The most common form of worms, hookworms, is usually caught by walking barefoot on infected soil. The worms can get into your body and suck your blood.

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