Dan is a big fan of Narcos, which doesn't exactly promote Colombia as a top tourist destination, but someone once told us it was nice and didn't deserve its reputation. That was all the convincing we needed. A couple of years ago I watched a TV show where Dara O'Briain and Ed Byrne travelled around Central America and ever since thought Costa Rica looked great. So our holiday plan: 9 days in Colombia (Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena and Santa Marta) and 9 in Costa Rica (Aranal, Manuel Antonio and Drake Bay).
In the lead up to our holiday, Dan asked me several times if I owned a light jacket. Of course I own a light jacket, I said, brushing the question off as though ridiculous. Two days before the holiday I realised that yes, I do own a light jacket, but it's khaki. That may not seem overly problematic until you consider I was also packing 2 pairs of khaki combats. A khaki jacket with khaki combats would portray an entirely unrealistic image of my outdoorsy abilities, and should we end up in a jungle survival situation, I certainly didn't want the other lost tourists turning to me as a leader. As soon as they found out I'd only ever attended one Cub Scouts meeting and refused to go back on account of the excessive amount of team sports, they'd turn against me and refuse to let me eat any of the berries. But obviously I'm writing this from Bogota so I won't keep you in suspense. I dug out my old favourite red jacket that is now about 75% underlining as most of the red material has peeled away. I think in aforementioned jungle survival situation, this jacket portrays the right image. 'She looks capable, with her River Island combats, but she probably couldn't wrestle a boar with her bare hands. Sort of a middling member of the group.'
Jacket finally sorted, we were ready to go. After a few rather worryingly tender goodbyes from friends and family ("You've always been a good friend you know", "I'll miss you", - muffled sobbing - , and from my Spanish friend "Give the kidnappers my number and I'll negotiate in Spanish with them"), we set off.
The first lesson I learned on this trip, was that no matter how much cheaper it is, don't EVER get a 6am long haul flight. We got up at 3am, flight to Paris, stopover for 4 hours, then a 10 and a half hour flight to Bogota in what were objectively the worst seats on offer. Middle row, one from the back. The entertainment system offered Beauty and the Beast and the remake of Baywatch 4 times. I saved Baywatch for the return flight. We arrived in Bogota about 20 hours after waking up that morning, but having only slept for 3 hours + horrible half-awake plane sleep in the last 2 days. In our foggy haze, Dan bought a $10 bottle of water in the airport and we kept the receipt as a fond reminder.
The next day we woke up unsure if we were dying, but adrenaline-filled enough to go and investigate Bogota.