Written by Gal Jurick, photographs by Michael Jurick

 

We all have bucket lists of places to visit around the globe. Mine is truly a hodge-podge but it is sourced from authentic people I meet along the way. I always ask people with accents where they are from. I love to hear their points of view about their country.

 

From the passion in their voice about their homeland, I can tell if it is a place I’d like to visit.

 

Our good friend Ivonne is from Columbia. She helps the kids with their Spanish and always greets us with a big smile. She frequently visits Colombia and is a wealth of information. She suggested many places to visit and together with my mom we planned tours in Medellin, San Andres Island and Cartegena.

 

So here’s our top 8 colorful (and tasty) reasons Colombia makes us smile…

 

    1. The Coffee

 

Anyone that knows me, knows I am head over heels in love with coffee. I don’t really drink more than a cup or two a day but when that cup is good, I am smiling all day long. Juan Valdez coffee is king here and it tastes mild and smooth, a blissful experience. Every place had great coffee and it was delicious served both hot and cold.

 

Colombian Coffee

 

2. The Food

 

I love fresh food, the fresher the better. To know that the plantains I am eating had just been picked or the sumptuous ceviche we ate every day just came from the local waters is music to my palate.

 

Colombia fruit stand

Fresh lemonade on the left and a colorful fruit vendor on the right

Alex stands in front of one of the many push-cart fruit stands. Fresh pineapples are served here.

3. Color

 

Cartagena is a port city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. The walled Old Town is located next to the Carribean Sea and founded in the 16th century. The old city is so charming with squares, cobblestone streets and colorful colonial buildings. With a tropical climate, the city is also a popular beach destination.

 

In 1984, Cartegena became a UNESCO world heritage site and money poured in for renovation and restoration in the old city.

 

Michael fell in LOVE with the color and architecture, We explored the city by bike with a tour guide and covered the city up until the sun set.

 

 

4. The Mercado de Bazurto

 

The Bazurto market is a giant bustling hub that sells fish, meats and produce to all the hotels and restaurants in the city. It’s not the type of place that is glamorous – quite the opposite actually but these photographs showcase the real grit these wonderful people endure to make a living.

 

Note to all you meat lovers. Don’t forget to eat some fresh cow eyeballs.
They’ll be looking at you as you eat them.

 

Just in case you need a haircut while shopping for your fresh fish,
there happens to be spot right in the center of the market.

 

 

5. Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena

 

The Santa Clara Sofitel Hotel is a 5 star oasis of luxury inside the old city. The hotel was the epicenter of our trip and was so incredibly beautiful. Michael began a fashion shoot for our niece Alex inside the hotel before exploring the old city neighborhood surrounds.  

 

 

6. Fresh Fish

 

Fresh fish was the staple of Cartegena and it was served in the most excotic restaurants and also the most charming and rustic. On our tour, we rowed through a backwater mangrove swamp that ended with a fresh fish lunch on the beach. Lunch was only $7 and the kids chilled in hammocks on the beach as the late afternoon sun began to set. Ahhhh paradise.

 

7. San Andres Island  

 

Even if you google this next stop on our trip, you won’t find much to read about. San Andres is a 2 hour flight from Medellin but it is a Colombian island off the coast of Nicaragua. In 2016 there were 700,000 tourists and in 2017 there were one million. Has the Jurick clan discovered another up and coming spot? Probably for the rest of the world but American tourists desire a bit more luxury and this island is pretty raw. Yes there are a handful of incredible restaurants and for sure this “Sea of 7 Colors” cannot be outdone in the beauty department. It will really be interesting to see what happens here. There is so much potential.

 

We had this feeling of complete peace knowing we were disconnected from the rest of the world.

 

At our villa, Casa Iwana del Mar ( https://www.casaiwanadelmar.com/la-casa ), coconuts were shaken from their trees and we drank the water straight out of them (with a little help from our knife-wielding chefs). The villa we rented was incredible, and the creole Colombian people were a pleasure.

 

Which brings me to the people of Colombia. Wow just wow. Polite, kind, proud, hard working, happy and patriotic. This was our experience across the entire trip. We did need to use Google translate on many occasions but how great is that?! Not one menu in English the entire trip.

8. Our tour guide in Medellin  

 

I was truly inspired by our tour guide Willi from the moment he picked us up. He immediately recognized that my parents are from Israel and began speaking Hebrew flawlessly. Willi’s life story is fascinating and I believe he could choose any career and be a true success. Our full day tour in Medellin whizzed by with historical stories of the city, lurid tales of Pablo Escobar and lessons in kindness of the human spirit.  

 

Contact Willi: 
William Zuluaga Echeverri: willisbestsupport@gmail.com

 

 

Travel Guide Info

 

Cartegena:

This is Cartagena

Travel Guide Info:

Travel Guides, INC

Michael Herrera

http://www.ticartagena.com/tours

info@ticartagena.com

+57 (5) 660 9128

 

San Andres Island:

Casa Iwana del Mar <iwanadelmar@gmail.com>

https://www.casaiwanadelmar.com/la-casa

 

Medellin:

William Zuluaga Echeverri: willisbestsupport@gmail.com

William Zuluaga Echeverri