Here’s something you might find mildly interesting: I don’t think there is a single country I have visited where I haven’t heard a local mutter a variation of “…only in this country!” It happens all the time. Really. Truth is every country has its share of problems, some more than others, but the uniqueness of the complaints is often… well, not that unique!
As Jack Torrance once famously wrote: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” So when Birgit – a lovely Austrian girl I’d met in the hostel in Santa Marta – mentioned she was going to Cerro Kennedy and asked me if I’d like to tag along I found it very hard to resist the invitation. What can I say? I’m a sucker for mountains (that much you already knew, I’m sure) and Cerro Kennedy was very high on my list of things to do in Colombia before I left the country!
Despite the rocky start, I quickly settled into a nice routine in Santa Marta. I strongly believe that you should never judge a place based on the first night you spend there, especially when things don’t go according to plan. It happens more often than you’d probably imagine and these days I flat out refuse to make rushed decisions until I’ve had a chance to sleep on them. Needless to say, more often than not, things do majorly improve the next day and Santa Marta was no exception.
When it came to picking a place to settle down for a few months to get some work done I had some ideas in mind. However, there was one important requirement: it had to be warm. Even though winters in Portugal are mild by European standards, the atrocious lack of insulation makes them a lot tougher to bear. Especially, in my case, after living in London for over a decade used to the toasty warmth of central heating all through the cold season!
When I said I didn’t do any sightseeing while in Bogotá I wasn’t being totally honest. There was one thing I simply had to do before I moved to Santa Marta. When I originally visited the city in 2015 I quickly fell in love with Cerro Monserrate, the 3,152-metre peak with an imposing white church overlooking the Colombian capital.
The first thing you notice when you arrive in a place like Colombia is the music. The salsa is everywhere! Airport terminal? Check. Taxi? Check. Hostel? Check. Even a trip to the supermarket has a soundtrack. You truly can’t get away from it, and I LOVE that. I’m sure I heard more salsa in my first morning in the country than in the previous couple of years combined. No complaints, though. Gotta love the hot rhythms of Latin America!
After nearly a year and a half stuck in Lisbon due to the pandemic I figured it was about time to step outside for a breath of fresh air. While I did start 2021 full of promising plans and willing to make things happen, sadly it wasn’t to be. The inspiration never came and, after frustrating myself over and over again with my own lack of productivity, I concluded I needed to be on the road for the creative juices to start flowing again.