I came to Colombia for the first time eight years ago. I was never intending to visit the country but after hearing so many people berate the place i thought it must be good. I took the bus up from Quito with an American guy, who as it turns out is now happily married to a Colombian girl, and we arrived in Popayan late in the evening. My first Colombian experience the next morning was getting caught up in some marches and having to deal with a lot of tear gas. From there we went to San Agustin and then on to Bogota, staying at the famous Platypus. I wanted a bit of adventure so I headed off alone on the overnight bus to Buenaventura and then Isla Gorgona. An amazing place to which I have returned two times already. On the way to the island the boat broke by a fishing boat which took me and two others on to the island. I met a Colombian girl during the break down and she invited me to her house in Manizales the following week, a great time.
...so that was my first months experience in Colombia. I enjoyed it so much I came back the following year for four months and every year since in fact. Now I have been living here for four years in Medellin. I took a few months classes at EAFIT University and rented out a couple of apartments. But mostly I just enjoyed the Medellin nightlife and travelled around the country. Great times. Over the last year I played poker on the internet here in Medellin.
About three years ago I was waiting for my girlfriend who had a job interview when I decided to go for a walk down the street... there was a house with an open door down the road and an estate agent inside. I decided to have a look and my immediate thought was this place should be a hostel. I looked at no further houses, that was the only one, and two months later I opened the Black Sheep.
Coincidently the hostel was opened on my birthday, 30th July 2005. Two girls arrived early in the morning and I did not have any beds for them. They slept in the hammocks. Later in the day arrived a few beds. I did not make much money from those two though as they locked the door to the room and I had no keys so had to call a locksmith. Very disappointing. Though four weeks later the hostel was full and i was sleeping on the floor in the maids room with no mattress. After three months of living in the hostel an Australian guy came around telling me he was going to Iraq the next morning and if I wanted his apartment. I gave him two months deposit, two million pesos, and took it sight unseen. Turned out alright and I'm still living there.
In my years in this country I have been lucky enough to have travelled extensively in Colombia. It is an amazing country. My favourite out of the fifty or so I have been to. I have visited the following places... a lot but still a lot more to discover.
Popayan, San Agustin, Tierradentro, Bogota, Guatavita, Cali, Buenaventura, Manizales, Pereira, Salento, Armenia, Ecotermales de San Vicente, Cartago, Santa Rosa de Cabal, Medellin, Jardin, Santa Fe de Antioquia, Guatape, El Penol, Rio Claro, Sincelejo, Monteria, Capurgana, Arboletes, Tolu, Mucura, Titipan, Islote, Covenas, Balcillas, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Taganga, Villa Concha, Palomino, Riohacha, Cabo de la Vela, Cocuy, Guican, Nobsa, Sogomasa, Barichara, Bucharamanga, San Gil, Villa de Leyva Villavicencio, Puerto Lopez, Puerto Gaitan, Orocue. Leticia, San Andres, Quibdo, Tado, Tutunendo, Bahia Solano, Nuqui, El Valle, Isla Gorgona, Mompos, Magangue, San Bernado del Viento, Paso Nuevo
In terms of diversity no country on earth can match Colombia, i doubt it at least.. While the landscapes of this country are amazing its the people that makes the place. Around every corner will be a smiling face and someone happy that you are a tourist in there country. Colombians are so hospitable thats always the thing that has got me.
The first time I came to Colombia i hardly saw any tourists, especially around Medellin. There were no hostels in Medellin and only three bars in Parque Lleras ( now there are over 50). The stock market is up over 1000% and there are now ten hostels here, five having opened in the last year alone. A few too many me thinks. This city is booming. Its a good place to make a life or at least spend a few weeks or months of your life here.