Lucky me, I was able to convince my (Canadian) boyfriend, Duane, to do something he’s never done before and book a flight to South America. For those who have yet to meet Duane, he is absolutely incredible. We met in January 2014 at a business competition and have kept in touch ever since, until this past summer when we chose to take a leap of faith and make a relationship out of it. Now although I find our long-distance relationship to be relatively easy, as I’m focused on school while he’s focused on work, and technology these days makes it so easy to stay connected with someone, regardless of distance, there is still nothing better than having that special someone standing right in front of you.
Since Duane was only coming for a week, we began planning months in advance to ensure we had the best week ever. We (mostly me) created a Google Doc with a calendar outlining what we would do on certain days and where we would travel too. I added a packing list for him, a few common Spanish phrases and an explanation of the money down here. Although I don’t think he looked at that too much, as he paid the $190,000 COP (approx $77 CAD) entrance fee in $2,000 COP and $5,000 COP… But we sorted it out!
His first day here I took him around the city of Bogotá. I showed him my favourite brewery, BBC, took him to my school and we went up the to the Monseratte to have dinner with a beautiful view of the city. Afterwards, I took him to my favourite party spot, Teatron of course, so he could get an idea of the night life here in Colombia. On the Sunday, I did my usual Sunday visitor routine and took him to one of the biggest flee markets in the country. It’s only a few minutes away from where I live and you can find thousands of Colombian trinkets and souvenirs.
But that Monday morning we began our adventure. We took a morning flight out to Cartagena to explore the walled city before jetting off to our hostel on the Isla de Baru. This was tricky. We were hopping to go by boat but unfortunately the boats only leave first thing in the morning but fortunately, Isla de Baru is still accessible by land. We jumped in a cab with not only the driver, but his wife and young daughter as well. Very kind family and it’s one of those reasons for why I love Colombia so much.
When we arrived to our accommodation, it wasn’t exactly what we were expecting. As we booked via Airbnb, we were expecting some sort of organization. This was not the case. Our host was no where to be found and despite being easy to contact before, this lady decided to go MIA throughout the duration of our stay. The locals running a nearby restaurant took us in and put us in a lovely little tiki-hut-like building above the restaurant, with a private balcony overlooking the ocean. We spent two days on the island and that was definitely more than enough (I’m not a fan of having sand literally everywhere). Some of my favourite moments include snorkelling amongst the reef and feeding the fishies but also our candle lit dinner. We strolled the beach on our last night and found a cozy spot for dinner. Mind you, we’re on an island. So picture plastic table and chairs in the sand, with a candle holder made out of an old water bottle. But don’t worry, it had a butterfly decoration on it made out of different coloured plastic bags to add a bit of flair.
Our next spot was the eternal city of Spring, Medellín. To get back to the city of Cartagena for our flight, we hopped on a 6AM fishing boat, packed with people and fish. This was one of those moments when I was very happy being with Duane because of how easy going he is. We were squished amongst locals, me sitting on his lap, with tons of fish at our feet and literally flying over the waves. I have a fairly boney butt and the waves were not helping his lap whatsoever. But he survived!
Medellín was surprisingly experiencing some fairly poor weather, lots of rain and clouds but that didn’t stop us from going out and exploring. We visited Parque Explora which is an enormous science museum that is actually VERY cool! It’s interactive, features lots of reptiles and fun games to play. This was another situation however where we were the only locals as we were surrounded by school children in matching uniforms. Our last day there, we visited the home of Pablo Escobar’s brother. To be honest, I felt a little nervous and uneasy being there simply because I’ve lived in Colombia for so long now and I know the negative impact he’s made on this country. Now although, he did do some good, I still don’t feel completely comfortable supporting Narco tourism but saw it as an opportunity to learn the story from their side.
We met Pablo’s brother, who was very kind. We saw a few of the cars that were used, old hiding spots throughout the house and learned some interesting stories about Pablo that I hadn’t heard before. I did find it rather funny though how his brother, an elder gentleman now, had what seemed to be his girlfriend over and she didn’t look a year over 30. Gold digger perhaps? Maybe she has a thing for bad boys, who knows!
Lastly, our flight back to Bogotá was delayed. So we had a few hours to kill at the airport. You know what that means right? Cheap airport beer and card games! Duane and I got hooked on Aguila during his time here and I taught him the card game Cambio. Now although he claims that I changed the rules throughout the game that is not true, he just lost.
I’m very happy and so fortunate to have Duane in my life, and for him to travel all the way down here to see me although we haven’t be dating that long. We travelled very well together, not getting aggravated about various hiccups that arose, but simply rolled with the punches. I can’t wait to get home so we can have more adventures together!