Holiday in Colombia (11): conclusion

After spending two nights at each of five hotels, our trip to Colombia was coming to an end.  On the final morning in Cartagena, there was no programme, so Silvia and I did some final shopping and I had my photograph taken with 73 year old Victoria, a distinguished black woman of African descent wearing traditional Caribbean clothing with a basket of fruit on her head. 

The return home was a long journey: first a late afternoon flight of just over one hour from Cartagena to Bogotá and then, after four hours at the airport, an overnight flight of 10 hours from Bogotá to London. Given the six hour time difference, we arrived at Heathrow at 3.10 pm the next day.  

It has been a busy holiday with five flights (two of 10 hours and three internal), some long coach journeys, and five hotels.  And it has been a fascinating trip with varied experiences, taking us to three major cities and coffee and palm tree districts. We have seen beautifully coloured houses and old colonial buildings plus some wonderful countryside and visited such different locations as a gold museum, an art gallery and a salt mine. 

In spite of the concerns of family and friends, the security presence was low-key – certainly less than my experience of Central America and the Middle East – and we had never felt in any danger (although we had to abandon plans to visit Comuna 13 in Medellin). The food was good and the coffee was excellent, while the cost of meals and taxis were very reasonable.  

Columbia has the potential to become a significant tourist attraction, but it needs to improve its transport infrastructure (road journeys take such a long time) and standards of service (service is often slow and not always what was requested) and to train guides with better English and organisational skills. 

Even in our hotel rooms, used toilet paper had to be put in a basket and, out and about, there was not always toilet paper and, when there was, there was sometimes a charge. In one hotel, our smoke alarm decided to activate itself and staff needed a ladder to disconnect it. In another hotel, Silvia was locked in the bathroom for three-quarters of an hour due to a defective lock.  

Above all, of course, the peace settlement between the Government and the leading terrorist group FARC needs to hold, an agreement needs to be struck with the other main terrorist group ELN, and the drug gangs need to be contained.  

I wish the Colombian people well. Now I have to get over this jet lag …

Meanwhile I hope that you have enjoyed these reports.


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