- $7,035.57 = How much it costs to travel around the world through nine countries over five and a half months
- Revisited: How to pack for an independent traveler with no set return date
- A glimpse in the thoughts of Bolod Namkhai Mukhadi
- Beijing to Ulaanbataar Mongolia: The nitty gritty of independent travel
- How to get Chinese and Russian visas as a United States citizen: My experience
- Writing assignment: "Inside The Candelaria Festival of Puno, Peru"
- Marathon hitchhiking: Southern Mexico to Michigan in 7 days over 3,400 mi
- Mango Surprise: Being the victim of a random, delicious act of kindness
- Legendary Vagabonder Rolf Potts with priceless advice on travel
- Fire juggler in San Pedro de la Laguna, Lago Atitlan, Guatemala
- Romania: WWOOFing in Transylvania and back to the US
- Bulgaria: Nice cities, tipped off about an isolated beach, and getting perspective from a prostitute's cigarette burns
- Kazakhstan Pt. 3: Almaty, where kids watch pole dancers, and joining the family
- Kazakhstan Pt. 2: Astana, WTF? Diagnosis: major inferiority complex
- Kazakhstan Pt. 1: Whoa Aunt Jemima's!, the Darth Vader Mosque, and a failed haircut
First stop in Colombia: Checking out Popayan and the weirdest desert I´ve ever seen (Tatacoa)
Written by Tyler Cole | 19 March 2010
My first stop in Colombia was the so-called "White City" of Popayan in the south of the country for a bit of R&R before heading out towards the geographic anomaly known as the Tatacoa Desert. Due to a nearby mountain range casting a rain shadow over the area it stays dry year-round, but there is enough rain to cause some pretty crazy erosion patterns that were pretty eerie to hike around. If I had to imagine what Mars looked like, Tatacoa would basically be it. I pitched my tent near an observatory in the area for a few nights, put there because the desert made for some pretty good astronomical observations apparently. Unfortunately the local astronomer wasn´t there at the time, so it was closed. It was more or less deserted (no pun intended) the whole time I was there except for an army patrol...
...that happened to be in the area at the time and a few Colombian tourists that would come for half and hour to take pictures and then leave. Apparently there was some guerrilla activity in a nearby mountain range, so a patrol was sent to look after the area. Initially the soldiers were pretty standoffish despite me trying to make conversation, but eventually it just became awkward to ignore the random tourist camping right next to them. I think their commander was trying to put on a show of discipline, but after I talked to him for a while they all seemed to relax. They ended up being a lot of fun to talk to, and even cooked me a meal.