When talking South America travel, I hear raves about Colombia, often as the South America favorite. Colombia has varied historical and cultural destinations, burgeoning food scene, competitive flight access, and reasonable costs on the ground. It is one of the few Latin America countries with budget airlines that really are budget priced. On my first visit in 2007 I flew from Bogota to Cartagena for the day because the price was so cheap. This winter I was back for a layover and had another fine experience.
The transformation of the country and perception is remarkable. How many in the 1980s or 90s would have imagined that the land associated with narco violence and rebel groups would achieve such a recovery? In that first visit I went to the National Police Museum to see the Harley of Pablo Escobar. Tourists under 30 may not have even heard of him.
Colombia is already on the scene as a hot destination for mainstream travel. The lingering shadow has been rebel groups in ever-reduced and remote areas, far from tourist hotspots. Now the momentous news from talks in Havana of a ceasefire agreed between the government and the main rebel group Farc with a pledge to disarm and sign a full peace deal in weeks. The longest-running insurgency in the Americas dates to 1964 and has cost an estimated 220,000 lives. See the BBC timeline to track major events.
To finally achieve peace will be a feeling of relief for Colombia’s people that I cannot begin to imagine. That they, and us, may soon without fear enjoy even the most remote of Colombia’s jungle interior is fantastic.
This news of a country moving forward was overshadowed by the Brexit news of a country in retreat. Let’s not let this triumph be overshadowed.