Not a terrorist in sight

Our first week in Colombia didn’t get off to the best start (too many warnings about safety and questions about sanity), but like a fine wine, it improved greatly over time.

The FARC, we hear, are too busy with peace talks in Cuba to worry about a couple of Brits passing through their territory. Oh, and apparently we really did pass through the heart of FARC-land.

“This is the most dangerous road in Colombia,” we were told as we approached the village of Corinto. This comment was followed swiftly by a winding up of the windows and a flat foot on the accelerator.

Happily, though, we emerged unscathed on the other side, in the village of Miranda, where we received our first dose of Colombian hospitality.

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Many thanks to Anderson, Luz Dany, Denikson (six) and Scott the dog.

More scaremongering was on offer as we made our way to Cali.

“Aren’t you scared?” we were asked, not for the first time this trip. “It’s really dangerous here.” Again, heard that before. A LOT.

Fortunately, the only danger was of two damaged egos as we struggled our way through an hour-long dance class in the world’s salsa capital.

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Thank you, Luz. It wasn’t your fault.

Out of Cali in one piece, then, it seems we are through the worst of it. We haven’t been told to be careful in days… plural!

Our driver yesterday and today, Julian, 24, who hosted us last night in the tranquil town of Buga, assured us that terrorists and the mafia are at a low ebb these days. There is a great deal more hospitality on offer, it seems, than terrorists.

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Julian, a vegetarian, manages a restaurant specialising in good quality meat.

It’s Steve’s birthday tomorrow. We plan to enjoy some of Colombia’s finest coffee and to take a stroll around the local area here in Salento, one of Julian’s favourite Colombian cities, in which he kindly dropped us today.

We were joined on the road by Jorge, a friend of the family who likes to provide impromptu foot massages.

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An early birthday present, perhaps, although he didn’t know it was Steve’s birthday until afterwards. Maybe he just likes feet.

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See, even the military here are upbeat. Apparently thumbs-up means the road ahead is safe. Looks awfully like a hitchhiking signal to us.

Total number of lifts: 209
Week Twenty-Three distance travelled: 659 km
Total distance travelled:  25,768 km

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