Colombia Sans Carnaval

I was pretty down for the two days that I was in Cali. I had assumed that most towns in South America had some sort of Carnaval celebration but there is only one in the north of Colombia. I had tried to look it up, but as is usually the case with researching South America, there wasn’t much English information available online.

I regretted leaving Quito so soon as if I had stayed longer, I could have caught a good Carnaval. I also regret not spending more time in Ecuador in general. There are a lot of good places that I could have visited and I wish I had stayed for at least another fortnight to properly experience the country.

It really felt like most tourists had left for Rio or other well known Carnaval destinations. There were only five other people at my hostel. I didn’t do much in Cali; I went shopping for some boring things that I’ve needed for a while, it was only a few items but it took up nearly the whole day. I talked a little to the other people at the hostel but I wasn’t feeling very sociable. Mostly I sat in the courtyard and read.

I was a bit worried that I had reached the point where I’d had enough of travelling but fortunately it was only a bad mood that passed. My next hostel in Medellin was also nearly empty but this time, I sort of enjoyed it. I couldn’t stay in an empty hostel for too long but it was nice to not have to wait for the showers and computers and I liked the people staying there.

Medellin is a really nice city and there is plenty to do. I went hiking in a national park, went on a Pablo Escobar tour, visited a little town called Guatape and went to an empty waterpark that we had to ourselves. I didn’t enjoy the Escobar tour, as the tour guide was pretty blase and couldn’t speak English so well, but everything else I did in Medellin was cool.

After five days, I decided to travel to Salento, which is a little town in the coffee growing region. This meant backtracking in the opposite direction but I’d heard positive things from people who had been there. There was an American girl in my dorm who was also planning on going so we went together. I hadn’t spoken to her much in Medellin as she was always hungover or asleep during the day,  but she was actually a pretty interesting person. She was travelling for an indefinite period of time and when I asked her if she had put her things in storage, she told me that in a bid to eschew materialism, she had gotten rid of everything she owned, aside from a few photo albums. I was pretty impressed; I probably couldn’t do it.

We were pretty limited in terms of what we could do in Salento. When we arrived on a Saturday, the only ATM in town was broken and we were told that it wouldn’t be fixed until the bank reopened on Tuesday. I found a stash of money I had forgotten about so I had just enough money to go on a plantation tour and go horse riding. It was kind of annoying having spend my money so carefully, but it was nice to spend time in a place that was so tranquil and close to nature.

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