Another travel blogger we love is Sarah Duncan from Sarepa. Hailing from Australia, Sarah has worked around the world, although it was Colombia that she truly fell in love with. Her blog is dedicated to encouraging people to put behind their preconceived notions and travel to Colombia.
On her latest trip to Colombia, Sarah took various tours with Colombia4u. She cycled through Salento, visited Guatavita Lake, toured the city of Medellin by Metrocable, explored the stunning Neguanje & Crystal Beach in Tayrona Park, and canoed through the Mangrove Tunnels outside Cartagena.
Read on to find out more about Sarah’s love for Colombia and her travels there and beyond.
1. When and why you did you decide to become a travel blogger?
I have a background in journalism and first began working as a travel writer for magazines and newspapers in Brisbane, Australia, about 10 years ago. After a while, I decided to work as a freelancer, which allowed me to travel more, and then created a travel blog while I was living in Colombia in 2012. It was an online outlet where I could document my experiences living in a different country, learning a new language and trying to find my place in this new place I was calling home.
2. Describe your blog in three words.
Adventure, perspective, AREPAS!
3. What has your favourite experience been travelling in Colombia so far?
Oh, that is so tough to answer because I have had so many amazing experiences in Colombia. But some of my favourite moments include when Colombians have invited me into their homes, let me meet their families, have offered me a home-cooked meal and invited me into their lives like a family member. Another amazing experience would have to be having an essay published in the book “Was Gabo an Irishman?” earlier this year, which is a book written by expats who have been inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez in some way and lived in Colombia.
4. Coming from Australia, was there a culture shock?
I think my culture shock didn’t come straight away. I had quite a lot of Colombian friends in Australia before I decided to live in Colombia, so I was pretty familiar with Colombian people and some elements of their culture. The culture shock came when I settled down in Colombia and started learning about daily life in the country. Travelling through Colombia and living in Colombia are two very different things. Once I began living in Colombia I had to get my head around why people push through queues all the bloody time, how chaotic people drive, and how a honk of the car horn can mean anything from ‘get out of the way’ to ‘I’m about to run a red light’.
5. Can you tell us something funny that happened while you were visiting Colombia?
One funny thing I noticed in Bogota, that to this day still gives me a giggle, was something I like to call the bus seat hover When people notice someone has gotten out of their seat on a bus in Bogota they won’t immediately sit on the empty seat. They hover over the seat and wait until the warmth of the other person’s derriere has left before they sit down. It took me a while to realise what was going on.
6. When do you suggest people book tours in Colombia instead of exploring on their own?
I recently visited Colombia again and did so many tours while I was there. Something I realised was that I learnt so, so much during the tours, things that I wouldn’t have found out otherwise. I have been travelling to Colombia for 10 years, but there were things I learnt for the first time during these tours – it really put things into perspective. I understand some people want to save money while they’re travelling, so they sometimes explore on their own instead of booking tours, but I find that you miss so much from a destination by doing this. By doing a tour with a local who has grown up in the area, or by passionate people who are in love with the country, the experience is absolutely invaluable and well worth the investment.
7. How do you cope with the nostalgic feeling you have after coming back from a trip you loved?
It’s definitely tough, but, to be honest with you, that’s another reason why I have Sarepa.com. It is an outlet for me to reminisce, remember and relive all the great experiences I’ve had during my travels.
8. Do you usually bring back souvenirs with you?
Absolutely! I make sure I buy locally made items, not only does that mean that I can support the local economy but it also means I can educate the people around me about Colombia. I usually buy things like organic coffee and local hand-made artisan pieces.
9. How do you budget your trips? What is the one luxury you splurge on when you’re travelling?
I am a planner and a bit of a control freak, so when I travel I try very hard to let my hair down and go with the flow. What I do like to splurge on, though, are experiences. I’m prepared to stay in budget accommodation in order to go all out with trips and adventure activities. On a recent trip to Colombia I was lucky enough to save on my accommodation and used that extra money I saved to go paragliding, horse riding, snorkeling and mountain biking.
10. We heard you have strong feelings towards Arepas, one of Colombia’s national dishes. What’s your favourite Arepa?
There are so many different types of arepas. Almost each region in Colombia has its own type of arepa. But I have two favourites. I love arepa de choclo, which is yellow and sweet and made with sweet corn and often served with cheese. Otherwise I love arepas Boyacenses, arepas from Boyaca, which are small and crispy and filled with cheese. Oh yeah!