Colombia’s Magic

Salento, Colombia
Salento, Colombia

The rest of Colombia moved like a blur, with a few days scattered here and there as we moved southward. We were supposed to have also seen the North, but due to our escapades in Capurgana, I ended up having to skip it altogether (any excuse to come back to Colombia). Salento is home to Valle del Cauca, where the tallest palm trees in the world sway, its long limbs flailing precariously in the wind. There, we also accidentally found ourselves 18km deep in a rough hike through rain and fog clad in only in a dress and converse, so that place is forever tainted for me. It’s many rolling hills, paddocks and waterfalls make it a beautiful place for horseback riding, the horses often free to gallop wildly and without abandon. This did result however, in waking up and feeling every muscle, joint and sinew in my feeble body and I couldn’t do steps for days following that ride.

Street art, Bogota
Street art, Bogota

Bogota is huge and complicated and overwhelming and I only managed to explore a tiny pocket of it. Most time was spent in La Candelaria, the hip, bohemian part of town, full of street art, compact candlelit bars and crooked hostels. It is easy to get lost; the whole city is a gallery, the streets your exhibition, a sea of graffiti and colour, where beautiful works of art sit side by side with loud political commentary. Colombia has such a rich recent history that is very present and tangible in it’s architecture, it’s artwork, and it’s people, and is a big part of what makes it so magical.

We had one of the best nights out in Bogota at Theatron, the biggest gay nightclub in the Americas. The line wound around the block, through a parking lot, piling up to the entrance, a renovated old fashioned theatre. Set like a cul-de-sac of clubs and bars, we entered in awe into a thundering Ibiza-like stage where we watched a killer dragshow, before wandering next door to the lively reggaeton room in an abandoned church. For air, we made our way to a rooftop terrace hosting live music, before finally settling down in a cosy pub with billiards. The real kicker is that you pay a set 40,000 pesos entry fee (about $18 on a Saturday night) and with it you receive a cup. This cup is refillable in any part of the club with any spirit you can dream of till 2am. It’s like going on a crazy bar crawl where all the drinks are free.

Monsarrate, Bogota
Monserrate, Bogota
Popayan, Colombia
Popayan, Colombia

Popayan had the least colour of any city I have ever been to–and I don’t mean that metaphorically. Aesthetically and structurally, it was all white and grey. Curiously, zebra crossings -which ARE traditionally black and white- shine every colour of the rainbow in Popayan, the brightest bits of town! It was like entering a dystopian world, where oceans run pink and skies bleed mustard. There is beauty in its clean, crisp look though, like snow powdering a quaint countryside. This was only heightened by the religious parade we stumbled across on our first night, the light of a hundred candles flickering across the small streets and putting the stars to shame.

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