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On the Road – Colombia: La Niña Adventures Continue – & Free in Cartagena

La Niña Adventures Continue

The La Niña rains are continuing in most parts of the country, adding a different dimension to travelers’ Colombian adventures. The TV news shows images of the extensive flooding in Medellín, Honda and the Magdalena River Valley. Mudslides cause temporary delays in bus trips. But most people journeying by that means are arriving safely (though a bit late).

Bicyclists, though, are facing tougher challenges. One Danish couple riding from Mexico to Colombia is due to fly out from Bogotá. They began down the road from Cartagena to the capital, but had to turn back. All roads – save La Línea (a high-altitude pass) – are affected. Others are deciding to stay a while yet on the coast, until the rains stop.

All travelers, whether in bus or car, on motorcycle or bicycle, are advised to check Invías’ (the national highway department) website for up-to-date information on road condition.

Casa Museo Rafael Núñez is easy on the wallet. Photo by Lorraine Caputo

Free in Cartagena

The only part of the country not having heavy rains seems to be the Caribbean coast. Even though it is officially the rainy season, it is anything but that. The days swell into a sultry stupor, but rarely erupt into a thunder-bumper. So many travelers are deciding to stay on the coast until road conditions (hopefully) improve.

Unfortunately, shoestring backpackers are dumbfounded by the cost of Cartagena’s museums, and excursions to Playa Blanca and Islas del Rosario are. These journeyers wonder they can do here on a meager budget. The answer is, Plenty.

Grab the camera and had out to wander the streets of the Old City, savoring the plazas and colonial architecture. Take a rest on the fortress walls, enjoying the sea and passers-by. Stroll over to Isla Manga and take in its seaside promenade.

Free dance & music. Photo by Lorraine Caputo

To cool off on these sultry days, pack a picnic and head to one of the near-by beaches, like Marbella and the ones on Bocagrande peninsula. For a few dollars, take a buseta out to La Boquilla where the best mainland playa is.

If museums are more your thing, you aren’t totally out of luck. The Museo del Oro Zenú and Museo de la Esmeralda are always free, and Museo de Arte Moderno is gratis every Wednesday. The Casa Museo Rafael Núñez costs less than a dollar. The last Sunday of each month, some of the pricey museums are fortresses are free.

A fine dose of rhythmic culture can be savored every afternoon (5-6 p.m.), when troupes perform Afro-Colombian dance and music at Plaza de los Coches. The various cultural centers in town host free art exhibits, movies and other events.

Click here for details on all these activities.

Another free event budget travelers could take in this past week was the Semana Santa processions that wended through the Cartagena’s streets. I close out this week with some images from Good Friday’s cortege – and until next week.

All Photos by Lorraine Caputo

Editor’s note: Lorraine Caputo is one of V!VA’s longest-tenured writers. These days, she’s back on the road in Colombia, updating our 2011 edition of V!VA Colombia. Check the blog for more of her updates from the road.

V!VA List Latin America Released – Book Turns Travel Writing Upside Down

VIVA Travel Guides announces its newest book, V!VA List Latin America: 333 Places and Experiences That People Love. A compilation of stories submitted online by everyday travelers, the book combines the best of Web 2.0 and traditional publishing. The result: a colorful and entertaining look at Latin America.

Miami, FL (PRWEB) September 24, 2007 — In the age of Facebook, blogging and Google mania, opportunities abound for aspiring travel writers. Until now, however, they’ve been mostly limited to cyberspace. Enter VIVA Travel Guides, a web-based community with a whole new way to look at travel writing and publishing.

The newly published V!VA List Latin America: 333 Places and Experiences That People Love is V!VA’s unique take on one of the most exhilarating regions on the planet. The company’s website allows anyone to share their favorite travel experiences and potentially be published in one of V!VA’s award-winning books.

Travelers from around the world joined V!VA’s web community to write about their favorite Latin America locales and experiences while editors compiled the most colorful narratives and photography. The result — 372 pages packed with everything from cultural reflections and must-see locales to top-10 lists and practical how-to information — will whisk you from your armchair to places of unimaginable beauty.

Writers contributed stories covering countries far and wide throughout Latin America. V!VA List Latin America includes tales from: Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Venezuela, the Guianas, the Caribbean, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile.

In this book one can read about travelers who explored tiny villages, participated in festivals and took to the field to play fútbol in the mud with locals. They climbed mountains, rafted rivers and walked in the footprints of the Incas. From students to grandmothers, techies to professional travel writers, contributors from all walks of life participated in the making of this book. For example:

  • Harvard University professor Richard Christiano returned to travel in Latin America after a 25-year hiatus to work as a volunteer in Costa Rica;
  • College student Sarah Tonner, of Tampa, Fla., reflected on her experience watching the Mothers of the Disappeared walk for justice in Buenos Aires Plaza de Mayo;
  • Fitness center owner Darren Fitzgerald, of Los Angeles, Calif., recounts his first-hand experience traveling off the beaten path to La Ciudad Perdida, the Lost City, in Colombia.

Read these stories and more in this free E-book which can be downloaded here: http://www.vivatravelguides.com/dnl/members/Vivalist/BestofVIva.pdf V!VA encourages the free republication of articles from the book, and only requires the source be attributed.

Old and young, day jobs and writing credentials aside, the contributors share three things: a profound passion for travel, a love of Latin America, and the desire to share that passion and love with others. The result is a colorful and entertaining look at Latin America, home to great natural beauty and modern cities, fantastic food and charming people.

Anyone can submit their own travel stories for publication in the next book in the series, V!VA List World by signing up and creating a user profile on the V!VA website.

About V!VA Travel Guides:
V!VA Travel Guides is reinventing the traditional printed travel guide with its web-based community focused on collecting and sharing the most up-to-date travel information available. Information submitted by travelers is available online and in published travel guidebooks. Thousands of travelers have contributed to V!VA’s first guidebook, Travel Guide to Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands, and the soon-to-be-released Peru travel guide, Argentina travel guide and Colombia travel guide. Also in the works is V!VA List World, a sequel to V!VA List Latin America that will take readers off the beaten path once more.

For additional information on V!VA List Latin America or V!VA Travel Guides, contact Paula Newton. A copy of V!VA List Latin America (ISBN-13: 978-0979126406) can be ordered on Amazon.com or through the company’s website at http://shop.vivatravelguides.com ($19.95 USD). Volume copies may be purchased at orders(at)ipgbook.com or by calling (800) 888-IPG1 (4741).

Paula Newton, Editor in Chief
VIVA Publishing Network
Tel. 970-744-4244