2018 is ending and we are all hoping for a 2019 full of great adventures. I am preparing for my longest journey so far, I’m leaving on New Year’s Day in South America! I will be staying there for approximately 7 weeks and my destination is Colombia. It’s my first visit on a continent across the ocean so I’m quite nervous about it.
Preparations for this long trip started like months ago, when my boyfriend Vladut and I decided we want to have a long holiday. First we wanted to go to India this autumn but we delayed so much buying the tickets that we actually changed our mind and ended in organizing a longer trip to Colombia. First I got to check with my boss if it’s ok me leaving for such a long time, actually wanting to have a job to get back to. But he was so great about this, that I was actually feeling sorry that I would leave for almost 2 months 🙂 .
The next step was to buy the tickets and I was looking for like 3 weeks for a good deal. I ended up buying tickets without check-in baggage, knowing that transatlantic flights would have that included. But no, this company has a new strategy with some economic light tickets and we actually have to pay at the airport for this service, which sucks on so many levels.
The trip to Colombia takes about 24 hours, from Bucharest to Amsterdam then to Panama and finally to Pereira, Colombia. I hope I will get some sleep on the plane, but I have also an e-book reader and new songs on my phone, so I am good to go. I bought a cool pillow for sleeping on the plane (I really don’t want to be dead tired) because after landing in Pereira, we have to get another trip by car to Roldanillo (about 70 km ), the place where we are going to stay for the next few weeks.
As we all got to see Narcos, I guess everybody has an opinion about Valle de Cauca. But this is about to be changed. Well, Roldanillo is right there, between Cali and Medellin on Valle de Cauca and it was chosen for the reputation of being one of the greatest place for flying paragliders worldwide. There were held some Paragliding World Championships and besides that, there is good flying weather all year round because Colombia is very close to the ecuator, in the southern hemisphere. However, the best time for visiting Colombia for flying is from late December till March, when is actually their summer time and less rain. That doesn’t mean that it’s not going to rain..no no no..it is actually raining every day, or so I was told by the collegues pilots who were already in Colombia in the past few years.
You can see below where Roldanillo is on the map.
I was trying to be organized when packing my baggage trying to guess what will I need there, considering the place is like 10.000 km away from home, different continent, different climate, different people. The best part is that in Bucharest there are like 00C and in Colombia 300C 🙂 . So I packed many T-shirts, some short trousers and sandals 🙂 because it’s summer time in the middle of our winter! But also, as a Christmas present, I got a water filter because the epidemiologist doctor I went to for my vaccine against yellow fever (which it is not mandatory but recommended in Colombia), told me that I should be careful about the water I drink and she recommended me to have only bottled water.
I also packed, of course, my paraglider because that’s the main purpose of this trip: to actually fly many hours per day so that I will get used quicklier with my new purple-pink wing, Rush 5. That shouldn’t be too hard as I was told that it is flyable for 3-4 hours/day, every day. One other thing that matters when we choose a country for traveling and flying is the way you can retrieve yourself after XC flights. And it seems that Colombia is a very friendly country for that.
The other purpose of this trip is to visit some parts of Colombia. Searching on the internet and getting reviews from a friend who has already been there, I found out about the Lost City/ Ciudad Perdida in the northern area of Colombia, close to the Carabbean sea. The thing is we have to get there by plane from Pereira or Medellin to Santa Marta and also book a guided tour in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, where the Lost City had been found :). The trip can only be made with a guide, it takes minimum 4 days/3 nights, you have to walk around 40 km through the jungle and to fight with the mosquitoes. This is a trip I really want to make, that’s the reason I actually took that vaccine in the first place. And I also want to have some fun swimming and snorkeling on the Carabbean coast :).
I would also like to visit Medellin, the second largest city in Colombia, well known for the Pablo Escobar cartel base. However I found out that things have changed around there, after that episode, and the city had grown and developed very nice, winning some titles as the most innovative city in the world due to its recent advances in politics, education and social development and also some urbanism awards. That makes me want to visit even more, as I am very interested in urban planning myself.
All in all, I really wish this will be a great adventure with lots of traveling, flying and getting to know another culture, very different than ours. I now have less than 2 hours before leaving to the airport, as we asked a good friend of ours to get us there by car, considering that is New Year’s night in Bucharest and would be very hard and expensive to find a cab.
Hope to write some more from Colombia 🙂 ! Have a wonderful and adventurous New Year 2019!