Thanks to the beautiful landscapes, friendly people, good public transportation, and decent food and lodging at decent prices, Colombia gave us a great vacation over the holidays. Happy to see that the country has a robust land conservation mentality with numerous National Parks nationwide.
And there could be nothing more therapeutic than "turning off" the North American news and settling into a different way of life. Happy to say that my Spanish skills are still there and, as usual, created as many problems as it averted. (I am finding that sometimes it pays to be an English-only gringo, especially in the big city where hawkers are trying to sell you everything from bus tours to soccer jerseys to magic brownies.)
Anyway, it's always nice to to be reminded that travel can be so much more than a passport stamp and a few photos. At its best it's a new pair of glasses with which to view the world, a different rhythm to your day, new friends who do not speak your native tongue. It's finding creative ways to stay cool in a sweltering, un-air-conditioned apartment, crossing a boulder-strewn river in a little taxi to arrive at the remote coffee plantation, drinking juice made from fruit you've never seen before, playing strange games like Tejo, made fun by the gunpowder blast and cheap beer that comes hand-in-hand with the experience.
Thanks for the memories, Colombia. And to my fellow Parkwest travelers, I'm looking forward to getting back to the "U" with you this year.