I admit almost always before I travel to some other country, I pop over to the U.S. State Department Website to read what our government has to say about the country. Generally, the State Department has solid information on places to avoid, crime and other dangers travelers might face. But some of these travel warnings are downright scary and enough to make a traveler want to stay home with the windows shuttered.
Colombia is my first stop. So tonight I ventured to the State Department Website to read what it has to say about Colombia, once considered one of the most dangerous places in the world, plagued by attacks by narco-terrorists, guerillas and kidnappers. Security in Colombia, even the U.S. State Department admits, has improved in the last few years. But the country is still experiencing its share of crime and bombings from guerillas and the drug cartels. I have heard lots of good things about Colombia lately, from travelers who have spent time there. They talk about the friendliness of the people, and the beauty of the country. Two couchsurfers from Slovakia I hosted were so smitten with Colombia – specifically Medellin – that they were willing to give up their homeland and call Medellin home. That’s quite an endorsement, Medellin!
So as I prepare to leave for Colombia in about two weeks, I’m not sure which Colombia I will find: one still engulfed in a raging war or one where you can travel by road and feel safe. The State Department tells Americans to avoid traveling between cities and rural areas by road and instead take commercial flights. I have talked to dozens of travelers from all over the world who have traversed Colombia by road, no problem. I intend to go by road as well. Stay tuned. You’ll soon know which Colombia shows up.