Colombia ~ Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown Sunday @ 9 pm ET on CNN

The public face of Colombia has changed immensely over the past ten years and is still changing for the better. Tony will explore several regions of the country from the mountains down to the Caribbean coast to the coca leaf growing inlands formerly controlled by drug cartels.

Don’t fear Colombia, enjoy it

I’d thought my unconditional love for Colombia was well established there. I’d visited for speaking engagements. I’d made a giddily enthusiastic episode of a previous series in Medellin and Cartagena. I’d waxed poetically and often about how well I’ve always been treated, how thrilling it is to see how far the country has come from its bad old days.

I’m a fan of its people, its music, its food and its disarmingly injured pride.

But coming out of the remote jungle village of Miraflores, I made a mistake.

I tweeted a photo of myself standing under a shade tree surrounded by young Colombian military recruits.

My old friend and Top Chef colleague Tom Colicchio tweeted right back: “Too soon” — connecting the appearance of machine guns with the then recent Newtown massacre.

I tweeted back that “this is what it looks like in FARC country.”

Of course I meant “territory recently controlled by the FARC,” the unpleasant Marxist guerilla group who’d been terrorizing Colombia for decades with kidnappings, assassinations and worse. They operate hand in glove with the cartels — essentially shaking them down and providing them with protection — in return for funds. And, indeed, not too long before I arrived at the dirt airstrip, merchants in the small town are said to have accepted payment for basic goods and services with coca paste.

Now, Miraflores is swarming with army and police. The FARC, by almost all accounts, have been beaten back significantly.

The phrase “FARC country” was not, however, interpreted as intended, as meaning an area, a neighborhood, a territory once under FARC control. Not in Colombia.

Colombians were outraged.

“I do NOT live in FARC country” and “How come you glorify those bastards?” were common responses. The twittersphere blew up with pissed off, deeply offended Colombians reading second-hand reports of what I was believed to have said. Many misidentified the young soldiers in the photo as being guerillas.

Our fixers and drivers were very, very unhappy — in the uncomfortable position of being closely associated with someone (me) who was (for the next couple of days, anyway) widely thought to be a FARC sympathizer.

Things bled into the print media, and it was a tough couple of days.

It was a clumsy, ill-worded and foolish thing for me to have done.

Colombia is NOT, for the record, “a FARC country.” Far from it.

As I should well have known, the struggle between the FARC, the cartels and various right-wing militias has been deeply felt by nearly every Colombian family. Opinions — even perceived opinions — can have consequences. Just about everybody you talk to — even in a present day Colombia that is much, much safer and secure — has lost someone to violence from one side or the other.

Colombians — more than anyone — have paid a terrible price in lives for the world’s seemingly bottomless appetite for cocaine, and for the greed of a relative few. And if you ever wondered “how come they don’t get a handle on things down there,” all you need to do is look at the place. The country is huge. It is about 70% sparsely populated (and gorgeous) jungle, mountains and coastline opening up onto both the Caribbean and the Pacific. It is ideologically divided. And it has neighbor problems. Venezuela next door has been all too happy to provide safe haven and even covert military assistance to the FARC. Panama’s Darien Gap offers some of the world’s most impenetrable jungles.

Colombia has been very successful in recent years in its war on cartel- and FARC-related violence. But the ludicrous futility of any fully successful “war on drugs” is apparent with a single look out of a plane window.

In spite of all its painful history, Colombia is emerging as what SHOULD be a vacation wonderland.

Have I said yet how beautiful the place is? It’s incredible.

It’s fun. And, yes, it’s safe. Every day, more so.

 parts-unknown-anthony-bourdain-episode-3-on-colombia CNN

Cartagena has some of the most beautiful colonial architecture you’re likely to find anywhere in Latin America. A great bar scene. Amazing food and architecture.

Medellin is a modern, sophisticated, enormously enjoyable place to spend time. It’s as far from its image as a murder capital as you can imagine.

And people are heartbreakingly welcoming and happy to see visitors who have come to their beautiful country for something other than to talk about narcos and violence.

Cali is a party town to rival Miami. The beaches along the coasts are as unspoiled as your wildest fantasies.

And yet many people still don’t go.

I would urge you to put aside the stereotypes.

If you want to find bad people in Colombia, you can surely find them, as you could in New York or Los Angeles. But nowhere have my crew and I been treated better or with more kindness and generosity. I’d bring my family on vacation there in a heartbeat. And hope to soon. As I said before: Colombians are proud. Let them show you what they are proud of.

That said, this week’s Colombia episode of ‘Parts Unknown’ marks another great moment in Bourdainian stupidity.

Faithful viewers of my previous program on that other, less good network, might remember my previous misadventure on an ATV. You’d think I would have learned from that experience, a long barrel roll down a sand dune wrapped around a few hundred pounds of metal and machinery. I was very, very lucky to have emerged from that experience with limbs and skull intact. That maybe I’d be smart enough to realize that maybe off road vehicles were just not for me.

No.

In Colombia, I saddled up once again, and as you’ll see managed to fly off the seat, drive my head straight into the ground (helmet-less, of course) and (my producers insist) somehow succeed in running over my own head.

Though I was “out” for a brief microsecond there, I remember bounding to my feet, unwilling to be embarrassed by the glaringly obvious: I should have worn the helmet they offered. I should have driven more carefully. I probably shouldn’t have been — given my record — driving the damn thing at all.

Comedy Gold.

Source: CNN – Parts Unknown

Estados Unidos calificó a Colombia como un destino seguro para sus ciudadanos

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Sin embargo, Colombia insiste en que se remueva la alerta de viaje por parte de ese país.

Estados Unidos actualizó este jueves la información contenida en la alerta de viaje que hace a los ciudadanos que desean visitar Colombia y resalta los progresos que ha hecho el país en materia de seguridad.

El documento anterior había sido publicado en octubre del año pasado por el Departamento de Estado de ese país.

A diferencia de reportes publicados en el pasado, el nuevo documento reconoce a Colombia Estados Unidos actualizó este jueves la información contenida en la alerta de viaje que hace a los ciudadanos que desean visitar Colombia y resalta los progresos que ha hecho el país en materia de seguridad.

El documento anterior había sido publicado en octubre del año pasado por el Departamento de Estado de ese país.

A diferencia de reportes publicados en el pasado, el nuevo documento reconoce a Colombia como un destino seguro para decenas de miles de ciudadanos norteamericanos que visitan el país cada año, no sólo en calidad de turistas sino también como estudiantes universitarios, por razones de negocios o para realizar voluntariados.

Adicionalmente, la alerta destaca que funcionarios del Gobierno de Estados Unidos viajan regularmente a ciudades principales en el territorio colombiano de forma segura.

Por último, se destaca que el Departamento de Estado reconoce que no existe evidencia de que los ciudadanos estadounidenses que visitan el país sean objetivo de actividades criminales por la simple razón de su nacionalidad.

Si bien el Gobierno Colombiano ha reiterado que las condiciones actuales de seguridad en el país ameritan que Estados Unidos remueva definitivamente la alerta de viaje, también reconoce el uso de un lenguaje más moderado en la nueva versión publicada el día de hoy.como un destino seguro para decenas de miles de ciudadanos norteamericanos que visitan el país cada año, no sólo en calidad de turistas sino también como estudiantes universitarios, por razones de negocios o para realizar voluntariados.

Adicionalmente, la alerta destaca que funcionarios del Gobierno de Estados Unidos viajan regularmente a ciudades principales en el territorio colombiano de forma segura.

Por último, se destaca que el Departamento de Estado reconoce que no existe evidencia de que los ciudadanos estadounidenses que visitan el país sean objetivo de actividades criminales por la simple razón de su nacionalidad.

Si bien el Gobierno Colombiano ha reiterado que las condiciones actuales de seguridad en el país ameritan que Estados Unidos remueva definitivamente la alerta de viaje, también reconoce el uso de un lenguaje más moderado en la nueva versión publicada el día de hoy.

Fuente: El Espectador

Colombia: Why Visit Now?

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Interview with Luis German Restrepo, U.S. Executive Director of Proexport Colombia, the government agency charged with promoting tourism, exports and investment for the fast-growing Latin American nation.

Q: Colombia has become an “it destination” recently. Can you shed light on the increased interest from travelers?

A: The beauty of Colombia is that there is something for everyone: We have some of the best beaches in the world, fantastic restaurants and a rich history. As a result, Colombia was named one of the “25 Must-See Destinations for 2013” by more than 350 Virtuoso luxury travel advisors. In spite of the global economic downturn, the arrival of foreign travelers to Colombia has kept a steady growth over the last decade reaching around 1.7 million on visitors in 2012, a 7% growth when compared to 2011 and positioning the United States as our main source market with 350,000 tourists last year. (Source: The National Administrative Department of Statistics; DANE)

Q: Why are so many people traveling to Colombia now?

A: Being Colombia the second most bio-diverse country in the world, the country offers activities to all types of travelers. From nature and adventure in Santander, Santa Marta and the coffee cultural landscape; to history and culture in Cartagena de Indias and Bogota; to pristine white sand beaches in San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina, visitors can enjoy extreme and unique activities suitable for young travelers, families and adults. In addition, Colombia is conveniently located with close proximity to the United States — a trip from Miami to Cartagena de Indias is just 2.5 hours away or 5.5 hours from New York to Bogota.

Sigue leyendo

La verdad de Colombia

Anderson Cooper – Television Anchor

After announcing Medellin to be one of his favourite cities in the world, Cooper stated that: “Colombia is a fantastic country. They’ve overcome a lot, and there are many exciting things happening here. It’s a great place to visit.”

Anderson Cooper

Source: Colombia Travel Blog @ColombiaTravels

After announcing Medellin to be one of his favourite cities in the world, Cooper stated that: “Colombia is a fantastic country. They’ve overcome a lot, and there are many exciting things happening here. It’s a great place to visit.”

Bourdain Declares Colombia ‘Vacation Wonderland

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Tony Bourdain: a Colombia believer.
Photo: Wireimage

Tony Bourdain’s latest No Reservations blog entry is unusually sunny today — the last thing you’d expect, given that it deals with the outspoken cook’s trip to war-torn Colombia. Bourdain enjoyed himself but is suspiciously rheumy eyed in the retelling: “When you see a real change in the conditions and in the human hearts of a place where just a few short years ago, one neighbor couldn’t walk twenty yards over without risking death from another, where drug cartels recruited their murderous young foot soldiers by the hundreds, where even the police feared to tread. It makes one hopeful again — about the whole world.” Wait, what have you done with Tony Bourdain? Is his body still in Colombia somewhere? This doesn’t sound like the cynical figure we know and love. On the other hand, it does make us want to see the episode, which will air at 10 p.m. on the Travel Channel on June July 14.
Colombia: Vacation Wonderland [Travel Channel]
Source: New York Post Grub Street

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