"a beautiful country- it's best to either be fluent in spanish or visit people who live there. "
How I did it: a friend at work invited me to go with her and her parents. her father is from neiva. we spent 10 days in neiva for the san pedro festival and 6 days in bogota, sightseeing.
Lessons & tips:
here are 2 "culture shock" tips: if you stay with a colombian family of a certain social standing, chances are they won't let you do the things you're used to doing while on vacation. i was in bogota and neiva and literally never walked around by myself. and the family i was traveling with shot down 80 percent of my suggestions for things to do or see. i had a great time, but i definitely felt limited and want to go back on my own so i can see the things i missed.oh- depending on who you're with and where you are, you might have a hard time of it if you're not a heavy meat and potatoes type. the family i was with couldn't understand my reluctance to eat nothing but pork, beef, potatoes and plantains for 20 days.
here are practical suggestions:colombia has amazing shopping. in bogota i bought a limited edition monogramouflage bag from louis vuitton (it's not available in the States, and the favorable exchange rate saved me $500) and a lot of spices and coffee from a gigantic carrefore supermarket- i had to buy another suitcase just to take all my groceries home.and make sure to buy many packets of roboprofin at a pharmacia- it's a great pill for headaches and cramps that's not available in the States.
Resources: bug spray, sunscreen, ipod, hostess gifts.