Off to a delayed start, my Colombia adventure began with a flourish. I was part of the “lost” crew; a cancelled flight, unexpected night in NYC, and another delayed flight later, 23 other Boothies and I finally made it to the party in Bogota’s legendary steakhouse Andrés Carne de Res. After an Aguardiente-fueled ride on the party-bus, we entered a labyrinth of what felt like a massive 3D doodle, with every inch of the sprawling bar decorate with neon signs and eclectic hangings. In the one-day head-start other Boothies had on us, they seemed to have already gathered a collection of moves they rocked to the tunes of Luis Fonsi’s Despacito. The song became the anthem of our rollercoaster Spring Break trip.
Although the travel rigmarole meant that I had missed the Bogota city tour, I got to soak in culture in Medellin the next day. 60+ Booth students trekked through what was once the most dangerous neighborhood in the world – the comunas (slums) of Santo Domingo. We ascended the steep hill on a wobbly bus packed with locals. Atop the hill, we bought beers from a local bar before traversing Camino de la Vida, or the path of life – designed to create a sense of pride and community amongst the slum dwellers. The landscaped path presented stunning views of the slums sparkling like jewels below us as the last embers of the sun faded.
The highlight of my trip was a boat party in El Peñol De Guatape. Caps bearing our names added a host of color against the landscape of green hills and water. The Booth flag was flourished as we conquered Colombia with our revelry. It was flourished again when a hundred of us committed our loyalties to the Colombian soccer team as they defeated Bolivia in a qualifying game for the 2018 World Cup. In our bright yellow jerseys matching the crowd, we felt fully immersed in Colombian culture.
But nothing could match the fiesta on Isla Grande (the big island). The party began in the morning on a boat – the best ones always do! Our matching neon shirts filled the white yachts with color. Each boat belted its own beats as its inhabitants dived into the ocean. The party continued on the glorious sands of Isla Grande, punctuated by a delicious meal of shrimp and plantain fritters.
Shrimp, sand and surf; it was a befitting last day in Colombia for many of us. For the others, we got another day of sun and fun on the islands.
A big thank you to Booth students Sebastián Pérez Restrepo, Valentina Díaz and Camilo Alvarez for organizing this trip. I'd also like to acknowledge the Vaova travel company team, especially Juan Pablo Toro and Christian Byfield, whose energy, enthusiasm and creativity infused the trip with fun.