Merced County Times Newspaper
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Colombia: The Big, Bad & The Beautiful

John Derby
John Derby

As we step on the plane to fly back to San Francisco, our mind is full of thoughts and impressions of Colombia. First and foremost is it is nothing like we expected.

It is a world apart from a backward place previously known for being the world’s largest cocaine producer and a home to wealthy drug barons and cartel leaders. Next, it is far more beautiful than was ever expected, a virtual botanical garden where so many plants grow on their own, flowering in a brilliant display of colors.

Finally, it is very easy to get lost in this county where maps and road signs do not exist. The roads are first rate and paid for with tolls which can almost match the price of gas.

In major tourist meccas like Medellin, Cartagena and Santa Marta, the towns are very modern and there is much to see and great restaurants providing the very best food in modern day malls. Hotels abound and the prices are very cheap in comparison to vacationing in many other parts of the world.

People in Colombia are very fit and attractive as they walk most of the time and take a taxi when they need to get some place fast. Taxis and Uber rides are very cheap.

We leave with the view of Colombians being very happy people, hard-working and on the go all the time. The noise can get to you and the music is loud, but all this combines with young children running around with lots of dogs, even goats grazing on the side of the streets. Mothers taking care of kids, selling food on the side, and people riding in bike-peddled, rickshaw-type of machines which carry passengers anywhere they want to go.

It seemed everyone had a motorcycle, and there was usually a woman balancing on the back while holding on to the driver. Sometime there would be three on the bike with the young child squeezed between the two parents. It was a family passion to behold.

As a tourist your presence is not a factor. You automatically become a part of the mix. You either join the traffic or get out of the way, in either case, they do not care. You were as if you were not there, and all this life goes on around you.

Our impression on leaving this country is that it is doing very well on its own. It does not need American interference or has no problem with taking American tourist dollars, but otherwise wants nothing to do with us and our border problems.

If we were to be asked if these people want to cross the U.S. border legally or not legally, we would say “absolutely not.”

Why would they want to do that when they have it all going for them in the country they love?

Colombia is well worth visiting.

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