On May 2 I entered by Ipiales, a town near the border with Ecuador, and I spent 3 of the best weeks of my trip to South America in Colombia.
I will be hanging articles from each of the places I visited, the experiences I had there and the people I tried. Not surprisingly, to my liking, Colombians and Colombians have been the friendliest people with the unknown traveler that I found throughout my journey through the continent.
The picture of Colombia abroad - especially in Europe, I would say - is quite damaged for the years of fighting the FARC guerrillas, the anti-FARC paramilitary groups and the drug lord cartels. However, the government of President Uribe has directed his maximum efforts to help create a much safer country than he received from the previous president. And he has achieved it.
Today, although the war has not yet been won, the guerrilla-controlled zone is much smaller and is restricted to areas of the Amazon rainforest and other inaccessible places. Kidnappings are truly unusual - and focus only on Colombian magnates - and deaths from war between cartels have dropped dramatically.
I traveled at night by bus ignoring the advice of an outdated Lonely Planet - a 2006 edition that a French friend gave me - I went out at night in almost all the coastal cities, Medellin and Bogotá, I walked alone through a National Park in Pasto (South of the country), I shared groups ... etc ... And I had a sense of security greater than I had in other countries, in theory, safer (like Peru and Ecuador, for example).
The presence of the Army on the roads is very frequent as part of the government security plan and the truth is that the effects are noticeable.
It is no accident that Colombia is the country with the highest foreign investment in the continent, which has boosted the economy until it is the one that grows the most after Brazil. The new diamond in the rough is tourism and more and more foreign companies realize and "risk" landing in this wonderful country.
Sorry for Juan The pirate - 55-year-old Spanish character based in Santa Marta about whom I will tell you a good story - who told me not to talk about the benefits of Colombia so that -and I repeat textually- “tourists do not start arriving and they screw us up. Tell them that they kidnapped you as soon as you got off the plane! ” I'm sorry, Juan ... Come all to Colombiaaaa !.5.001