Today we welcome Marcela Restrepo to the Guest Blog! This week Marcela takes us on a trip to her home country Colombia, aiming to break some of those old clichés, while showing us the beauty of the Colombian landscape and the culture. Marcela has also done some illustrations just for this weeks blog too, I love the coffee drawing just below! – Jenny

I just wanted three sugars INSTEAD I got one sugar and that bitter joke about Colombia & Drugs

Daniel and I recently went to Colombia for a five-week holiday where we spent some quality time with family and friends and did a bit of travelling around the country.

We both come from Medellín, the second largest city in Colombia and moved to Sydney about seven years ago to do some studying but here we are. We love Sydney and Australia and enjoy the lifestyle we have here so much although we do miss our families and the land where we grew up.

Often I have to stand bad jokes when asked where I am from. I wish that one day people will understand that we are far from that old fashioned cliché.

Many of you may have heard or even visited South America though many have avoided visiting Colombia because of its bad reputation.

So I would like to take this opportunity that Lucy and Jenny have given me, to show a different face of the country. Colombia is a place full of culture, complexity, colour and life. It’s a land of contrasts. Sadly I cannot deny there are still problems in some areas but things are much better now and people are starting to venture and discover a wonderful place that has been in the shadows for so long.

This is Colombia. Blue for the five different regions. Black for the three mountain chains.

With strategic location it is the link between Central and South America and at the same time it is the only South American country that borders both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

It’s a tropical country, but also mainly crossed by the Andes from south to north so the climate is determined by both latitude and altitude.

Colombia has gradual variable climates from tropical foothills and coastlines to perpetual snow peaks. These are called Thermal Floors.

Every region has its own culture, music, food, and sometimes even their own dialect.

In addition to such variety of landscapes there are huge complex cities. You can find the most cosmopolitan lifestyles as well as an extremely interesting urban culture where sometimes people do amazing things to survive in a day-to-day basis.

Photography by Felipe Mesa

My friend Felipe Mesa takes beautiful photos of the most amazing places and nature in Colombia. He just published a book called ‘Extraño Paraiso’ with Camila Mora. Sorry Feli for cropping the photos!

After many years of Lonely Planet not printing a guide for Colombia, I felt great when I read the introduction of their latest one, printed in 2009. Would love you to read it!

- Marcela