'Misconception' unfortunately seems to have become Colombia's middle name; believe it or not, not everyone in Colombia is a drug dealer or a kidnapper, nor do they live in mud huts or drive carts led by donkeys (well, some of them do but most people have cars). I went to Colombia for a couple of weeks last month to spend Christmas and New Year with my family in Bogotá and, although I've been there many times before, I really had THE most fantastic time. The oh-so-original jokes concerning drugs that I'm faced with every time I mention Colombia, despite being hilariously funny, are actually ill founded/really irritating.
While most of my family live in the more modern, wealthier North of Bogotá, we stayed with my grandparents, who have always lived in the South. Complete in our super-skinny jeans and over-groomed appearance, we definitely didn't look like locals on the streets of South Bogotá amongst the stray dogs and road-side stalls selling pineapples and pandeyuca (cheesy bread made from the root plant 'yuca' - most delicious).
However, drive half an hour towards the North and you might as well be in a different country for all the similarities you'll find. The pineapple stalls are swapped for huge American malls full of designer shops, beautiful national parks and luxury apartments. It's actually rather nice.
Bogotá is set in a plateau in the Andes mountains, over 2600 meters above sea level which makes the average temperate about sixteen degrees all year round, although during my visit it was about 20ish everyday. The Andes make any journey out of the capital rather time-consuming, although very beautiful. We drove through the Andes mountains on Boxing (as you do) and left Bogotá to stay in Villavicencio for four days. The mountains were incredible and I ran my camera battery down from taking too many pictures!
We stayed in a huge villa in Villavicencio which can only be described as paradise. There was acres of land, a big swimming pool with a pool house, a football pitch, a volleyball pitch (?), hammocks, a huge forest area to explore the wildlife (small bears, monkeys and giant ants if you're into that kind of thing) and it was 32 degrees. There were fifteen of us and between Christmas and New Year we played in the pool, drank mojitos and went horse riding. Bliss.
This post doesn't really do my trip justice, I can't explain in words and images what a fantastic time we had and what a beautiful country Colombia really is. It was so good to spend time with my family that I don't get to see very often. It's hard to believe I've been back a whole week already; it's zoomed by in a blur of very late mornings (thanks jet lag) and university reading (back to reality). And I'll leave you with a few more holiday snaps to look at :) x
Just a Thought is brought to you from the box bedroom of a 20-something literature graduate and fashion copywriter living in Surrey. Likes: murderously impractical shoes, unattainable designer handbags, and Twitter. Lots of Twitter.