This chapter is about our trip to El Pacifico (the Pacific Coast of Colombia) and then through coffee country.
If you’re here for the first time, a quick note about the author. I live with my girlfriend, Lily Maz, in Chapinero, Bogotá. You can read about our life in Bogotá here, or about our first trip to Colombia (where Nick was forced to give an “I have honourable intentions towards your daughter” speech to Lily’s parents) here.
This holiday came after we launched a mobile app in London, leaving us tired, frustrated and desperately in need of a break.
Our trip: fly from Bogotá to Cali, and then take a mix of buses, taxis, vans, boats and motorbikes to Buenaventura, La Barra, the Hacienda Combia in Armenia, the Hacienda Buenavista in Quindio and finally up a volcano in Manizales.
“No, it’ll be fine,” Lily assured me while we packed, “I’m sure it will be fine.”
The West coast of Colombia has a dangerous reputation, so we were being careful. We were about to embark on a ten day trip, starting off with La Barra, a small, remote coastal village on the shores of the Colombian South Pacific.
Various governmental consulates advised against travel to this region. Like this warning from the American Department of State:
Small towns and rural areas of Colombia can be extremely dangerous due to the presence of terrorists and criminal elements.
And this one from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs:
We advise you not to travel to Valle de Cauca due to the high threat of terrorist attack, high levels of violent crime…and there is a high risk of kidnapping, including of foreigners [in a country with] one of the highest rates of kidnapping in the world.”
Although I was convinced these warnings were hugely overblown, I decided to leave my British passport at home (I also have a USA one) as I want to keep the stamps/visas I’ve collected on its pages, and if I got kidnapped it’d almost certainly be lost. For a similar reason I chose to bring my British bank card instead of my USA one, because in the case of an armed robbery or extortion it has a fairly small daily withdrawal limit. But, you know, we’d be fine.
The first leg of the trip would be to go via Buenaventura to relax on a beach in La Barra. Going to sleep the night before, I knew little more than than what I’ve already written.