"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness."
- Mark Twain
Another six weeks have past without any major incidents, there have been visits to unforgettable places and fascinating experiences.
In Panama Roger decided that he’d rather spend time on the beach and then do a short cruise into the Amazon from Peru. Neither option was very attractive to us so we went to Colombia and then met up in Cusco before the Inca Trail hike.
He’d also decided that 8 months was long enough for his travels and he returned home to South Africa leaving “the homeless two” to continue our trip.
Our first hurdle was getting a visa for Carol’s South African passport … travelling on a South African passport certainly comes with its own set of hassles!
We visited both Medellin and Bogota. Colombia is carrying a long legacy … with many negative perceptions. The legacy of 60 years of civil war and the exploits of drug thugs like Pablo Escobar – who actually died the year before South Africa got its freedom!
Since then Colombia has made a concerted effort to move past all the negatives that nearly destroyed the country. In 2016 Medellin was awarded the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize and it was also recognised by the Wall Street Journal as the “Innovative City of the Year” in 2013.
We went to Bogota as part of the preparation for the altitude at Cusco and the Inka Trail. Bogota is at an altitude of 2 640 metres (8 660 feet) and Cusco 3 400 metres (11 200 feet) with the highest point of the Inka Trail at Dead Womans Pass at 4 215 metres (13 700 feet).
It certainly challenges the oxygen carrying capacity of your body.
Medellin met all my expectations as a city that is in ascendancy. It is burying its past and making great progress. It is vibrant, passionate and offers much to youngsters looking for opportunities. It has a growing digital nomad and retirement community.
Attracted by the development, facilities and the year round spring weather.
Bogota is different. Held back by political corruption and infighting it lags behind Medellin in many ways. It has has no metro and has not not addressed urban development with such creativity, focus or drive.
However there is a feeling of optimism amongst the young people we spoke to. They are building a commuter cycling culture and infrastructure. Music and art is flourishing and there is a growing pride in the city.
After Colombia it was off to Cusco to acclimatise for our 4 day hike to Machu Picchu. It was the first time I’d done a multi-day hike and with the added challenge of the altitude I was quite apprehensive.
All went well. Some of the days were tough and certainly I suffered from the lack of oxygen. Also a number of our group suffered with upset stomachs … the portable toilet facilities were horrible … hopefully never having to be endured again!!
After the trail Roger headed back to South Africa and we went via Lima to Ecuador. First for a few days in Quito and then to continue our quest to speak, or understand, a little more Spanish. By spending another 2 weeks at a Spanish school in Cuenca.
We now face a hectic 2 months of travelling long distances (a lot by bus!) trying to take in as much of the rest of South America as we can.
All about that later.
Travel far, travel safe and dream big
PS I’ve added a My Best Resources page to the site which has some useful information for any travel.
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“Travel will change your life”