Jasmine has travelled to 24 countries around the world, but Colombia has held her attention for a while now. Read on to find out why and when you’re finished here, hop on over to her blog, Jasmine Wanders.
LCO: Let’s start with the basics: Where are you from originally, what brought you to Colombia and how long have you been here?
JS: I’m from Tampa, Florida. I came to Colombia because I was doing the epic Latin America journey from Guatemala to Argentina. I came here in 2010 and stayed six months that year. Then I took a dip into Ecuador and Peru and came back. I’ve been living in Bogotá again for the past two months.
LCO: You’ve travelled a lot and consider yourself somewhat of a wandering nomad. How does your experience in Colombia compare with that in other countries around the world?
JS: In Colombia, there’s a lot of flow in my travels. I meet lots of cool people, things happen naturally, it’s easy. While every country has her good and bad sides, I love Colombia so much that I hardly notice the negative. It’s the first country I can truly say that I fell in love with.
LCO: What was your first impression of Colombia? Was it what you expected?
JS: It’s funny when I think back on it. I was really excited to come, so I booked a flight from Panama City to Pereira. Even though Pereira is now one of my least favorite spots in the country, when I arrived I thought it was magic. Colombia goes beyond all of my expectations.
LCO: Tell us about one Colombian who inspired you and why.
JS: I’ve met a lot of amazing people here, but someone who sticks out in my mind is our neighbor. She’s 85 and she goes to work every single day, even on Sunday. She takes care of her son, who is in his mid-50s and has a few medical problems. She’s a really strong lady. I could never do what she does.
LCO: What has been your biggest challenge in this country so far and how did you cope?
JS: Honestly, I haven’t found anything to be challenging. Maybe dealing with the high cost of buses, but other than that, nothing.
LCO: What are your thoughts on Colombian cuisine?
JS: I’m fortunate to live in Bogotá, which offers an unbelievable amount of vegetarian options. I’m obsessed with tinto (Colombian coffee) and drink three to four every day. I’m also somewhat of an arepa connoisseur.
LCO: More people are considering Colombia as a travel destination. What advice do you have for them?
JS: I’d tell them that the tourist trail in Colombia is fairly worn, and there are millions of places to go off of it. I’d say to make friends here and ask for advice on where else is cool to go. I’d tell them to relax and enjoy Colombia. I’d also say to brush up on your haggling skills – everything in Colombia is negotiable.
LCO: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time in Colombia?
JS: I love to explore pueblos. If I could check out a couple of new pueblos every weekend, I’d consider my life almost perfect.
LCO: What are some of your favorite shops, clubs and restaurants in Bogota?
JS: My favorite shop is called Arequipe, which is like a Colombian Forever 21. My favorite clubs are Congo and Casa Babylon, which are reggae spots near Carrera 7 and Calle 50. My favorite restaurant is Maha – their vegetarian food is so good.
LCO: Having seen quite a bit of the country, where would you recommend going for a Colombian weekend getaway?
JS: Definitely one of the pueblos I’m obsessed about, like Jardin, Mongui, or Ráquira.
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