Category Archives: Memories

Memories of Colombia

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Already since I’ve been back I’ve seen news about Colombia, negative news regarding conflicts in parts of the country. Unfortunately this is the image Colombia has had for a long time and continues to have. Of course there are problems in the country. But I would like people to know that you can go there and have an amazing trip and meet wonderful people, never knowing or being exposed to any of these things that are reported on by the media.

After travelling from the capital city of Bogotá, to the beautiful islands of San Andrés and Providencia with their unique Caribbean culture, to the fascinating colonial city of Cartagena and to Tayrona National Park, my interests were piqued – and I couldn’t have imagined what more the country had to offer.

Our trade show in Bogotá gave me the chance to meet the many tour operators who have picked the best places in the country to visit. There is the desert of Guajira, the archaological sites of San Augustín, the Amazon region, the Pacific coast where there are ecolodges and whale watching and surfing, the colonial and modern cities, the coffee regions where some of the world’s best coffee comes from, and I could go on. I hope I have the opportunity to go back one day and explore some more.

I wanted to thank Proexport, the Colombian government for inviting us on the trip, the hotels we stayed at, the amazing restaurants we ate at (still can’t get that yummy food out of my head!), and the fun dive instructors we had. And a special thanks to Lorena Zapata for being our group’s leader, making sure we got everywhere we had to get to on time as much as possible and for being flexible with all of us, who each had different interests and independent personalities!  Lorena invited me into her home and became a great friend. She and her family, who moved to Bogota from Ecuador 10 years ago and fell in love with the country, charged me with becoming an Ambassador to Colombia! So I am attempting to fulfill my promise, with pleasure.

Here are a few more random pics of our “Chiva” driver in Bogota, Punta Faro, Cartagena, and sunset at Taganga.

Chiva or Taxi driver Punta Faro hotel on Mucura Island

Buildings in the old city, Cartagena Sunset at Taganga

Ridge Hiking in Korea

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I didn’t move to Korea for hiking. In fact, I don’t think I even knew there were mountains. I was going for the fascinating culture, the challenge of living life in a completely new place, different language and of course for the teaching English experience.

My second week in Seoul I was made aware of Adventure Korea and that’s when my new hiking adventures began. Every other weekend I would join other English teachers from the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK on trips through the different mountain ranges and islands on the peninsula.

Hiking is a major past-time in South Korea with the older generations, and sometimes it can be really busy, with line-ups even. There are no switch-backs in these mountains, the trails go straight up, with ropes and scrambling needed in some areas. In a few cases there are even metal stairs bolted into the rock.

On some occasions we would hike up to buddhist temples and shrines – many temples were forced out of the city and into the mountains years ago, which makes for an inspiring and interesting experience of its own.

Ridge hiking in Korea is not so well known as Valere Tjolle points out in his article on TravelMole. But it is definitely worthy of praise and of becoming better known in the world. It’s the only time in my life where I have been surrounded on all sides, as I walked for hours, by continuous mountain views as far as I could see. I have climbed mountains in the Rockies, and no one could dispute that they are spectacular, but this is different.

Looking down to the right as the edge drops off, or over to the left where a few feet away it drops again, you feel like you are walking the border of the earth. Something truly special I feel priviledged to have witnessed.

Read the article on TravelMole’s VISION on Sustainable Tourism Korea Aims to Attract 7.5 Million Visitors in 2009.

A Green Travel Adventure to El Salvador

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What has towering volcanoes, canopy tours, great surfing and Mayan ruins? There may be a few countries that come to mind, but I bet it’s not El Salvador!

But it’s true! El Salvador has all that and more. It’s just a little country between Guatemala and Nicaragua, but never under-estimate the little guy!

Volcano IzalcoEcoExperiencias El Salvador showcases all the fun stuff to do there, and the fascinating cultural aspects such as Mayan ruins and indigenous villages way up in the mountains. There are snorkeling tours, boating trips to lagoons crawling with caimans, treks to volcanoes, visits to native peoples’ homes and tons of other ways to explore the country.

Caimans One of El Salvador’s best kept secrets is the surfing! Along the 320km of Pacific coastline there are at least 10 world class surf spots with long breaks, waiting to be ridden. And the best part for both pros and learners is that there are no crowds. It’s the best way to learn because you don’t feel like you’re encroaching on the surfers’ space, but also good for surfers who know what they’re doing and where to go to get the best waves with no one else in the way. There are good places for families to learn together that have smaller waves, and places with barrels and long double overhead waves that don’t close out for the best of you out there. Sunzal, one of the country’s best spots, is featured in’s El Salvador Volcanoes and Surf Adventure.

Nahuizalco Market If culture is more your thing, or you want to get out of the sun and up into the cool mountains for a couple of days, a truly undiscovered place awaits. Up in the highlands are indigenous villages with traditional mystical cultures.  Nahuizalco is an amazing glimpse of the past with ancient churches from the time of Spanish colonization, and one of the oldest art and craft markets where local vendors still wear traditional dress. You really feel transported to another world when you’re walking around a place like this.

There’s lots of different cool food to try like the “Pupusa.” It’s a handmade corn tortilla baked over a wood fire in an adobe oven, stuffed with things like cheese, pork, refried beans or squash or everything mixed together.  That maybe the best part of visiting a new country, giving your taste buds an adventure!

Everyone will have their own “The best part of the trip was…!” thing to say of course, but the best part of the trip to El Salvador really is knowing that you are contributing to the local livelihoods of the special people there that have made your trip so memorable. People are happy to tell you about working in the coffee fields or about their own history, even from their own home if you like. That kind of good feeling is what green travel is all about.

Learn more about green travel to El Salvador here.




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