This is a cross post from Ruth and Leo’s  year long exploit blog.

There’s nothing like greeting your friends through bars. And should I ever need a taste of what life in prison would be like, Santa Marta airport prepared me well.

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It’s not too bad when you wake up the next morning to a view like this, followed by an evening of rum and fun. I was totally unsurprised to find that Ruth and Leo had made swathes of friends including two, Diana and Maria who would be joining our hike to Ciudad Perdida – “The Lost City”. Rediscovered in the 1970’s the ruins are set deep in the Sierra Nevada mountains. We used the local WIWA guides Etnotour website, and would highly recommend them to others. Fortified by some substantial food, and in Ruth’s case powered purely by cigarette smoke we tackled 6 punishing days of hiking, leading to this.

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Recovering back in Taganga on the beach a new sport developed – spot the cosmetic surgery; there are some seriously bad jobs available to see.

Heading on to Cartagena we found ourselves slightly underwhelmed by something often touted as one of Colombia’s must sees. We enjoyed the mud volcano, El Totumo, which rather like the Dead Sea is pretty hard to sink in. Leo and I found if we clubbed up it was possible to give Ruth a dunking though. We can confirm that there really isn’t a good club to go to in Cartagena on a Monday night. We tried.

17 hours of freezing bus journey hell later we shuddered to a stop overlooking a stunning national park near San Gil. The delay to reach the destination was caused by hazardous overtaking on a hairpin bend. None of us heard the crash, the salsa music that had been playing since 6.30am was too loud.

Thankfully the final destination made it worth it. The sleepy town of San Gil charmed us all. Unlike in the UK where people drink in parks because they are trying to avoid their parents/partner/got barred from the local, in San Gil it is warm enough to hang out til 4am. So this was what we did, making friends with the locals and then by day taking part in activities that give great photos. Paragliding, Rappelling and Caving.

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Dragging ourselves away from San Gil, Bogota allowed us to indulge our religious interests. First at the stunning salt Cathedral built in the mines. Seriously impressive work, it is also the place to go to get baptised in brine. Back in the capital, we visited the tacorama central that is the Cerro de Monserrate. A beautiful convent set on a hill above the city, the tat available to buy in the stalls outside was astonishing. A felt, luminous picture of Jesus with his crown of thorns made from flashing lights anyone? As we pondered who may actually buy such awful tat the cloud descended and so did my time with the girls.

I miss you both already.

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