Colombia: This is the Life!

Our trip to Colombia (to see family) took place right after we moved to Ecuador. It was a WHIRLWIND, to say the least. But it was completely worth it to go there. It was our first taste of life in South America and…we liked it. A lot. I feel ridiculous that I always assumed Colombia was too dangerous or unfriendly to visitors. Now I’m convinced it’s one of the most beautiful gems in South America. 
We stayed in the most charming town of San Carlos. This involved big dinners in the town square with my family and our Colombian friends (they are the kindest family ever.)

We hung out in our friends’ amazing villa. I just LOVE the open court yards so common in many South American homes. I want one so bad.

These huge plants had me swooning. South Americans loooove their potted plants. You see them everywhere. I already bought (5) plants myself and I hope to buy many more.  🙂 This one below is an Anthurium ‘Red Champion’ and I can’t wait to get one. 
And, I fell in love with mosaic murals. Our friend cut these tiles and designed this mural herself. I would love something like this. It was just so dang cheerful and colorful. 

We got a taste of what it’s like to have a cook prepare all the meals. Our friends had a cook/housekeeper who had worked for them for many years. She was AMAZING and fed us breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Oh, the life!!!! It was unreal.

We enjoyed visiting the famous empañada ladies in town. They would fry up mini empañadas- 20 cents each!! – and we couldn’t resist a bag full of them. They were the best we’ve ever had. Danny and I would sneak away from the crowd and find ourselves on that corner each night.

We were the ONLY Americans in this town and so all the kids would just surround us and want to talk. Many said they had never met an American. (I can believe that as we didn’t even see one American in our week in Colombia, either – not even in the large city of Medellin; not even in the airports. It seems Colombia is nearly untouched by foreigners.) In this photo, the kids are wanting to know all about our “Blog About Love.”  🙂 🙂 Danny was charming them all.
We got to hang out with my very sweet niece and nephew, Beatrice and Solomon. I loved that so much.
And, we got to see some of the most beautiful country side of our lives.  

We left Colombia wanting more, because THIS town is there. It’s called Guatapé and I don’t think there could be anything in South America more charming…

Also, THIS ROCK is nearby. Holy smokes. We got to pass by it in a car, but how I want to go hike it. 
Have you ever been to or considered visiting Colombia? I’ll admit I had never before considered it, but now it’s one of my favorite places.

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  1. Amber May 15, 2014 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    One of my best friends is Colombian, from Cali. She has invited me to visit her home country before, but It just didn't work out. I would love to go with her one day! She did say one of the things she misses most is the fresh fruit juice, she said every morning she would have fresh fruit and juice and it's just not available like that in cold Chicago where we live. I would love to visit some day!

  2. Anonymous May 15, 2014 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    Yep! Went to Colombia about 8 years ago and agree it is absolutely gorgeous. Loved the people, the architecture and the culture. Felt the very same way when I went to Chile and Uruguay, South America in general does not get near the credit it deserves.

  3. Malissa B. Moench May 15, 2014 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    My dad served his LDS mission in Colombia, and I've heard him talk about Medellin often! There will always be a soft spot in my heart for Colombia, even though I've never been there.

  4. Anonymous May 15, 2014 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    I would love to travel to Colombia with my kids one day… this post motivates me more to save and make this goal realistic. Lovely pics!

  5. ayelen May 15, 2014 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    wow! what is that rock called?!

    • mara May 15, 2014 at 11:59 pm - Reply

      The rock is called "La piedra del Peñol" – it's a 70 million year old rock formation near the town of Guatapé, which is just outside Medellin. That area is DEFINITELY worth a visit.

  6. farmguysgirl May 15, 2014 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    I didn't know towns (the colors! The sloped street!) like that really existed in this world. A soul like me who thrives on color-I love it.

    • mara May 16, 2014 at 12:25 am - Reply

      You would absolutely flip over this town. The ENTIRE TOWN is this colorful. I've never seen anything like it. Each home has painted tiles or depictions that tell the history of the region's people, animals and industry.

  7. amber May 15, 2014 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    Yes! I heard from someone about a year ago how safe Colombia is and I've wanted to visit ever since. Now seeing your pics makes me want to go immediately! BEAUTIFUL!

    • mara May 16, 2014 at 12:27 am - Reply

      Yes – do it. You will not be disappointed. 🙂 Plus it would be a very inexpensive vacation as the prices are still quite low compared to the U.S. and Europe.

  8. Lauren May 15, 2014 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    We had actually wanted to adopt from Columbia, but you have to stay in the country for about 6 weeks to complete the adoption and we couldn't figure out how to make that work with jobs and such. But after seeing these pictures, it makes me want to try!

    • mara May 16, 2014 at 12:26 am - Reply

      Wow – that would be such an adventure! The Colombian people are so warm and welcoming. I bet you could find a family there to host you. If you came to Ecuador, by chance, we would host you!! We are in the process of hopefully renting a villa here and there would be TONS of space.

  9. Anonymous May 16, 2014 at 1:40 am - Reply

    Oh! Mara thanks for your lovely words about Colombia and this beautifull pics. You are welcome here always.
    A big hug
    Monica Molina

    • mara May 16, 2014 at 11:06 pm - Reply

      Thanks, again, for being the best hosts EVER. You guys made us feel like family…I really feel now that I have more "family" in Colombia. Thank you for your unbelievable kindness. We'll never forget it. And we hope so much to visit again. xoxo

  10. Anonymous May 16, 2014 at 4:18 am - Reply

    Beautiful pictures, beautiful post. I don't doubt that South America would amaze all of my senses. I am just afraid to go there because I don't speak Spanish and neither does my husband.
    I am wondering about the photos you took with the children around the blocks and the one with a boy playing chess. Was that a regular afternoon? We are over scheduled and over entertained in the U.S. I found those pictures magical. I want to have time for hammocks and a game of Chess.
    Do you feel like the life style in South America/Central America is more conducive to living in the present moment?

    • mara May 16, 2014 at 4:32 am - Reply

      YES! South America is ALL about living in the present moment. People don't work crazy hours and they take time for family and friends or whatever else needs to be done. Every day, schools let out at lunch time and businesses close across the country as families join up together to eat lunch at home. Isn't that amazing? I can't even imagine that in the states. The lunch/siesta hour is usually from 1-3 pm so they can rest and be with the family. As for the photos of the children – all those kids (including my niece and nephew) are home schooled. So yes, that was a typical day for them. I know my niece and nephew have an extremely open schedule – their parents focus a lot on outings and experiences and at least for them, they have very little structure. And yes, isn't it dreamy to just have time for chess and hammocks? It definitely felt that way to us. We're still getting used to this new life here. Danny did already buy a hammock in Otavalo even though currently we don't have a space for one (he couldn't resist). But we hope to move soon. We are waiting to sign on a home we found to rent and if it works out, it will be all about hammocks from here on out. 🙂

  11. Anonymous May 16, 2014 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    Would have been great to see a picture of you with your sister!?

    • mara May 16, 2014 at 11:00 pm - Reply

      I know! Such a shame. I wish we had taken more photos. My sister is tall and elegant (and looks so beautiful pregnant right now!)

  12. Dee May 16, 2014 at 5:32 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your post. We are currently getting ready for early retirement and have considered Ecuador as a location. We will have to plan our trip to visit some of these places before we make that decision….and from your blog I think we will definitely add Columbia to our list. Where would you recommend in Ecudor?

    • mara May 16, 2014 at 11:04 pm - Reply

      In Ecuador, so far I would recommend visiting Quito for the wow factor of the HUGE city and historic area; Otavalo and Cotacachi for their unbelievable green views of the mountains and volcanoes – plus the indigenous culture, crafting, and markets; Baños for the hot springs; the Quilotoa Loop for hiking; and Cuenca for some beautiful architecture, cultural events, hikes in the Cajas, and visits to nearby craft towns. I am sure there is so much more, but we are just learning as we go. I also hear the beaches are amazing…

  13. Blog Blah May 19, 2014 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    We are going down to Equador next month and I saved your post to show my husband. Now he is checking out the flights to Columbia as well and asking where that city is…I am so excited!

  14. Anonymous May 20, 2014 at 10:19 pm - Reply

    I've been reading your blog secretly for awhile now! I had to comment. One of my favorite family vacations was to Colombia. We went to Leticia & then went up the Amazon to some villages in the jungle & it was amazing. We went to "Monkey Island" & had hundreds of monkeys all around us. It was a trip of a lifetime & I would go back in a heartbeat. We also went to Cartagena & Bogota. Both were much tamer, but not nearly as exciting as being in the heart of the Amazon. I love reading your blog!

  15. wanderinglostblogger May 20, 2014 at 11:45 pm - Reply

    Cartagena is completely beautiful and charming. They have an old walled colonial city that might as well be out of a movie. The food is amazing, and you're on the Caribbean, so can't go wrong there – we rented a boat and puttered around through the most gorgeous clear water and ate fresh lobster. It was an amazing trip and I never felt worried about safety.

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