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Entering the Santander Department of Colombia: What Changes?

Colombia is the 2nd most bio-diverse country in Latin America. First is Brazil, which contains much of the rainforest and is enormous compared to Colombia.

By sara burdickPublished 5 months ago 4 min read

When you travel here and go to different regions, you also see the diversity. From the people, the accent, the landscape, and most of all, the food. Most foreigners I meet complain about the food, but I love it.

Especially when each region has a spin on its version of Colombian food, I had the best arepa of my life two weeks ago on the street in Tunja: cheese with Bocadillo in the middle. I still think about that arepa.

Today, I am in the town where Bocadillo comes from, Velez, in the Santander region. I left the region of Boyacá.

Now I sit in a small mountain pueblo, where the weather has changed from cool to hot. The people dress like they are at the beach, and no one can understand me; they speak so much faster.

I have to adjust my ear and enunciate better, but sometimes, they see me as a foreigner and assume I am not speaking their language when I am.

When you spend a significant amount of time in one area, such as Boyacá, and then hop to the next area, Santander, how much I stick out here is palpable. In the colder climate, my fair skin is not that strange, as many people from Bogotá are lighter completed.

Yet once you reach a sun zone, it’s like I am Casper, the Friendly Ghost, and I just lit up the room. Also, when I got on the bus from Barbosa to Velez, the driver put me up front with him.

We chatted, but he spoke so fast; I felt terrible, but he was giving me a tour of the area; it was a public bus. I helped him collect money; then he told me I should move to Velez because now I know someone: him. He said the area is a safe and beautiful area, and it is.

The town sits on the side of a mountain, and when you look into the distance, all you see are mountain after mountain after mountain. I forgot how much I love the Santander area. I should clarify that I love this country, but each has a unique personality.

Here, they are more flirty and vibrant, as well as more open and warm. With the warmer climates, you can feel the change in the people; even if they pretend not to understand me, I will adapt and figure out how to speak more clearly.

As I previously stated, this region is known for Bocadillo, so what is that? Well, it is the most delicious sweet treat. It is guayaba and panela mixed and then cooled with the texture of jelly candy, sort of, and better!

I believe Santander is significantly cheaper also, as my room, a private hotel room with a bathroom, is 8.50, and lunch costs me 2.50, including chicken, rice, spaghetti, salad, plantains, and lemonade. Yes, it was a lot of food. I still got a cookie next door.

It was not much more in other areas, but sometimes it was up to 5$. While the bus driver gave me the tour, he showed me where all the Bocadillo factories were, where to buy the best Bocadillo, and where to catch the bus to Medellin in a week.

I might stay here until then, as I have a hotel in the center of town, with good wifi, which appears quiet. Minus the usual noise in Colombia, bells, music, and people talking, you get used to the noise. When it’s too quiet, I worry, what’s going on??

Especially in the warmer areas, they are more passionate! Yet today, everyone has been so kind to me, asking if I need help; maybe they don’t see a lot of foreign tourists here, but that never bothers me.

I will go down later, walk around the park, and see the lights for Navidad. Last night was the official beginning of the season, even though it starts December 1. Last night was día de las veritas (day of the little candle), where everyone goes out on their porch, balcony, town center, or street and lights candles, and then we went and walked around Paipa to see the lights.

I had a great end to my time in Boyacá, and as much as I love that region, I will continue searching for an area where I want to live, one preferably with a warmer climate; as soon as summer is over there, it will be colder and rainy most of the year.

I will only be in this area until I have to spend the holidays with friends in Medellin. At least the bus ride is shorter from here than Bogotá.

Yet this is why Colombia is so unique: the small changes you notice from one area to the next, subtle food changes, and the people are the most significant indicators that you have entered a new zone! Buckle up. It may be rocky at first.



solo travelsouth americafemale travelbudget travel

About the Creator

sara burdick

I quit the rat race after working as a nurse for 16 years. I now write online and live abroad, currently Nomading, as I search for my forever home. Personal Stories, Travel and History

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  • Paul Levinson5 months ago

    A really appealing story -- that lunch sounds delicious, and you can't beat the price!

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