Trip Start Oct 06, 2006
Trip End Sep 14, 2008

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Thursday, March 27, 2008

                  Colombia has cleaned up its act significantly in the last couple of years as far as security is concerned. While I had a question or two in my head whether it would be a smart idea to travel during the night or during the day the 13 hours between Cartagena and Medellin I was assured by everyone I asked that there was no problem and that the trip was perfectly safe. In the Colombian news the topics of FARC, paramilitaries, guerrilla, and secuestros (kidnappings) is still a very serious problem but security and military presence is so obvious nowadays like in no other country that these issues most likely don't affect the average traveler unless they go to completely remote areas, have some political influence or links in Colombia, or maybe appear to have a ton of money. What obviously made big news all around the world was the threat of a South American War with Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador after Colombians had crossed Ecuadorian boarders and killed one of the FARC leaders at the beginning of March. The situation became a bit tense after Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, started to send troops to the Venezuela-Colombia boarder. It surely is crazy how fragile the stability is in this region and how it can change literally from one minute to another. Nevertheless Colombians maintained their coolness during this without any fear and worries because first of all that's the way they are and secondly they have a president who people love and who they can trust and who has moved this country forward in a positive direction with his actions.
I arrived safely in Medellin, couchsurfed with a Colombian friend named Raul, met various other "couchsurfistas", checked out this huge city, jumped on the metrocable which is a cable car system that transports people to low-income neighborhoods, checked out the bronze statues of the famous Colombian artist Botero, and finally danced the night away to Colombian rhythms. There I met Vicky, another couchsurfer who is traveling around South America and is working for the Guardian in the UK writing articles about various travel hosting systems. One of her latest articles talks about the experience and even mentions me - yahoo ... I'm famous!
While it seemed like any other day, the day I am about to leave from Medellin my couchsurfing host Raul informs me that an attempted kidnapping of one of his relatives failed this morning. Wow ... yes, I definitely was surprised and didn't expect this but it just meant that this issue is still very real and not something to joke about.
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