by Ed Ntiri
Colombia is a place where little adventures quickly turn into big experiences. Where fleeting sights eventually become lasting insights.
In Cali, you might stumble into salsa el parque, as I did, where thousands of calenos gather monthly to dance salsa with the enthusiasm and passion of carnival. Cities like this don't take the title "Salsa Capital of the World" lightly.
Then there's thrills like riding the cable car up to Monseratte, at top of Bogota. Journeys like this only make sense once you're up there; 10,000 feet, eye level with clouds, looking down into a valley filled from edge to edge with the fourth largest city in South America.
Or towns like Minca, hiding in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, where, besides a lotta trees, all you'll find are a few waterfalls, a handful of houses, and ancient coffee plantations. And thanks to ecotourism, you can pay 10 or 15 dollars to get in a jeep and ride up to more and more of these recently discovered paradises that previously you could only find with thick boots, a machete, and a great sense of direction.
And islands like San Andres, where when you sink your toes into the white sand and look beyond the fishermen swimming with the manrays, past the coral breathing everywhere just beneath the shore, your eyes can actually count 7 distinct shades of blue in this tiny, but tasty slice of the Caribbean sea.
Colombia is the only country I've felt compelled to return to, over and over again: 7 times in the past 10 years, and the reason why is simple: it has everything. Absolutely everything.
More so than many countries, Colombia challenges you to expand our idea of what is possible. Here, everything is fluid and full of life. This is reflected in the food, the language, the dance, the landscape. It reminds you (in different ways each time) why you travel. Because to travel is to dream, to become new and recreate yourself. And what better place to discover the unknown than the home of magical realism.