Sunday, August 13, 2023

Photos from trip to Colombia in May-June 2023!

My wife and I were exceedingly blessed to spend a month in Colombia in May and June of 2023, after our 2022 trip was hampered by COVID and other illnesses in our family. We seemed to be making up for lost time with encounters with family and friends, as well as side trips to Santa Marta, Pereira, and Manizales. Below are just a few of the highlights of our trip.

Manizales, Colombia
Manizales is a city with pockets nestled in the mountains

The Hotel Irotama in Santa Marta has an enormous pool

The Nevado del Ruiz, an active volcano that was emitting fumaroles

We peeked inside a church in Madrid, a town outside of Bogotá, and witnessed a wedding!

The dizzying view from the top of the cathedral of Manizales

The Museo del Chicó in Bogotá is a former hacienda

Nevado del Tolima in the foreground, Nevado del Ruiz in the background

Plenty of birds to see in Colombia like this Bananaquit in Pereira

Informal gatherings of musicians, like this one in Bogotá, are always fun

The courtyard in the Museo del Chicó in Bogotá is beautiful

In the Laguna de Guatavita park, about two hours north of Bogotá

Like Manizales, the city of Pereira has cable car transportation

The Laguna de Guatavita, site of the Muisca ritual of the cacique or chief, also known as El Dorado or The Golden Man, covered in gold powder and bathing in the lake

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Colombian Andes: Eastern Cordillera from Bogotá to Choachí (2022)

On my last trip to Colombia in June-July 2022, I wanted to see the road between Bogotá and a town to the east named Choachí. (For those of you who have been to Bogotá, this road goes between Monserrate and the Cerro de Guadalupe.) This trip only takes 1-1/2 hours, but it goes through an impressive array of landscapes, including this one. Bogotá is high at 8,600 feet above sea level, but the road would reach the "páramo," a high altitude landscape found only in northern South America, reaching as high as 11,000 feet. The plant life in those climates is amazing.

The "páramo" at 11,000 feet above sea level

Upon descending toward Choachí, the climate gradually gets warmer. The luxuriant vegetation gives an indication of being in "tierra templada" or temperate land.

At Choachí, the landscape was bright with sun and I could feel the warmth of the lower altitude.

The center of town was brightly painted and featured some nice murals:

When it came time to return, I sat on the right side of the bus to appreciate the dramatic changes in altitude. I could see the road where I had been only a short time ago.

Upon arriving in Bogotá, I was deeply grateful for having seen an area I had wanted to travel for many years!

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Attractions in Bogotá and vicinity


View of the Magdalena River valley from La Piedra Capira, near Guaduas

This is a quick list of attractions accessible in the vicinity of Bogotá, Colombia's capital.

La Candelaria, the traditional center of Bogotá, is an interesting place with museums, coffee shops, bookstores and other attractions. For some reason I like hearing people doing English tutoring in the coffee shops or having discussions about politics. Take reasonable precautions but don’t be paranoid.

From my first trip to Colombia in 1980, I had seen buses to Valle de Tenza but had not gone there until 2015. It’s a few hours from Bogotá and has spectacular scenery and picturesque towns. I immediately connected with people every time I would arrive in the town.

Suesca, another town outside of Bogotá, is known for rock climbing. While on the bus, I observed a tourist with a large backpack asking for directions. I didn’t go to climb rocks but wanted to see the town. Again, I had some very nice encounters with people there.

La Piedra Capira, outside of the town of Guaduas, is one of the best-kept secrets of Colombia travel, in my opinion. It’s a fenced overhanging rock that on a clear day boasts an incredible view of the Magdalena River valley, including snow-capped peaks in the Cordillera Central. Talk to several taxi drivers in Guaduas to see who gives you the best price. Go in the morning as the afternoon sun obscures some of the view. (Note: Guaduas itself is a nice destination. It has a design similar to Villa de Leyva, but does not have the influx of foreign tourists that Villa de Leyva has. It was also the home of the Colombian patriot Policarpa Salavarrieta (aka La Pola).)

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Chocolate Art and Crafts in Philadelphia

Chocolate Art and Crafts owner Eva Hernández (right) with her sister Perla (left) and Raíces Culturales Co-Founder Yolanda Alcorta


One of the gems of the increasingly diverse Latino community in Philadelphia is the crafts store in the Italian Market in South Philadelphia called "Chocolate Art and Crafts." Its owner, Eva Hernández, dedicates herself to using crafts to show positive images of her home country of Mexico. Raíces Culturales Co-Founder Yolanda Alcorta visited the store in 2019 and found in Eva a willing collaborator in Raíces programming. Fortunately, Eva's store survived the pandemic and along with her sister Perla, will also collaborate with Raíces in a program on Sunday, October 24 dedicated to chocolate and its origins, along with the local organization Penn's Village. Check the Raíces website for details as the date approaches!

Some of the many treasures available at Chocolate Art and Crafts

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Local travel in PA as we ease out of the pandemic

An Eastern Bluebird in Ridley Creek State Park

Hunting Hill Mansion, the central point in Ridley Creek State Park, PA
Hunting Hill Mansion, where the park offices and banquet facilities are located

Like so many, I'm looking forward to traveling again as we come out of the pandemic. In the meantime, I'm enjoying taking in the local sights, such as in Ridley Creek State Park, which is a wonderful retreat for suburbanites in southeastern Pennsylvania. The park is spacious, but the area that provides a good starting point is Hunting Hill Mansion, which houses the park offices and has a space that can be rented out for weddings via Close by are stables where horseback riding is available. Go to for more details. 

One of the residents at the Hidden Valley Horse Farm

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Anapoima, Colombia photo gallery

Latest links from my Facebook page (2020)

Taking a boat tour of the north coast of Anguilla, 2003

Below are some more recent links to posts on my Facebook page

Luther Bryan, who took me out on his boat from Island Harbour to Scrub Island, Anguilla (2003)

Placemat with map of the island of Culebra, a small island off the east coast of the main island of Puerto Rico. I visited there in 2007

View of the eastern savannah of Colombia from the eastern edge of the Andes (1981)

The Choo Choo Barn, a massive train layout in Strasburg, PA (2015)

Hotel Mockingbird Hill, Port Antonio, Jamaica (2013)

A splendid horse in El Quelite, Sinaloa, Mexico (2013)

A stairway with a steep descent in the town of Mesitas del Colegio, Cundinamarca, Colombia (1992)