This charming fellow will lead our travellers on our foray through Colombia.
If you’ve been on any small group tour, you know that the group leader can make or break the experience. This is your most powerful conduit into the customs, culture, and cuisine of any destination. Quite simply, they’re going to help you make the most of your moment in their homeland.
That’s why we take pride in personally vetting every Out Adventures group leader. For our latest escape to Colombia we are pleased to introduce – and welcome to the Out Adventures family – Juan David Borja. Read on for a taste of his South American hospitality.
Where in Colombia are you from?
I am from Medellin and have lived here since 2017. People who visit love the humanity of the city and the goodness of the countryside with its vibrant mountains, nearby agriculture and temperate climate. We also have an efficient public transport system. It’s a perfect place to live…and visit.
What do you love about working in tourism?
I returned to Colombia after a year in Miami. I saw the potential for sustainable tourism, and I love the possibility of sharing life adventures that exist just here in Colombia.
What is Colombia famous for today?
We are privileged by the diversity of climates and destinations (fun fact: Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth, with 4000 species of orchids alone). Our wealth is not only human and cultural; we are a country that knows how to create special memories in the lives of its inhabitants and visitors.
What about Colombia do you love the most?
We are made up of diverse races, colours, and dreams. As Colombians, we distinguish ourselves as warm, cheerful people who like to help others. We are also persevering, hospitable, and *very* LGBTQ-welcoming. Colombia has some of the most advanced LGBTQ rights in South America. Bogota is even home to the largest gay nightclub on the planet. The Nomadic Boys even devoted an entire article to the club. With fifteen different rooms and ambiences, it’s quite the spectacle.
What is the biggest misconception?
It’s spelled Colombia – with an o – not Columbia.
LOL! Now that you’re officially guiding our Bogota to Cartagena tour, what destination do you look forward to showing off the most?
I think Cartagena and Medellin represent history and tradition, respectively. Both regions also have special landscapes. But I really love Santa Marta and the nature of Parque Tayrona – the mixture of snow-capped mountains next to the hot Caribbean Sea is just magical.
Tell us about Colombian food. What are some traditional dishes our travellers might enjoy?
Colombian food is all about the pleasure of eating, starting with a variety of fresh and natural ingredients.
- Ajiaco is a popular chicken and potato stew in Bogota, our capital
- Tamal and empanadas are popular across South America, but each town (and family) have their own style
- In Santa Marta, try cayeye, mashed green banana with cheese that’s popular for breakfast
- In Cartagena, it’s all about seafood: think fried fish and coconut rice, seafood casserole, and shrimp cocktail
- Bandeja Paisa, if I had to pick one dish that is quintessentially Colombian, is a giant platter of meat, beans, eggs, black pudding and other ingredients that give it a striking resemblance to traditional English breakfasts
What about drinks? Are you a fan of Aguardiente? How would you describe it?
People either love or hate aguardiente (an anise-flavoured liquor up to 60% ABV strong). It’s worth trying to understand this fiery liquor found in every corner of Colombia, but if you enjoy quality spirits, I recommend the variety of rum Colombia offers. It’s much easier to savour those caramel and honey flavours.
Tell us a bit about the local LGBTQ+ scene in Colombia. Specifically. What is the culture surrounding homosexuality like? What advances have been made in recent years?
As I mentioned before, Colombia is a leader in terms of LGBTQ+ rights, from marriage equality to transgender inclusion. The queer community has become more vibrant over the past several years, and there is more diversity of expression every day. Cities like Bogota and Medellin have thriving LGBTQ+ communities. Of course, in the more rural parts, it may be harder to discover the community, but you’ll find small bars and nightclubs in all corners of the country.
What about souvenirs? If somebody wants to bring him a piece of Colombia, what should it be?
- Wayuu bags are crocheted by traditional tribespeople of South America
- If you want to splurge, treat yourself to some emerald jewelry
- In Medellin, you can find pictures and t-shirts made by graffiti artists of the comuna 13, and replicas of the sculptures of the artist Fernando Botero
What are your interests and hobbies in your downtime?
I really enjoy photography in environments with high contrast between nature and architecture. Swimming is also my favourite hobby, so I have been getting into underwater rugby for a couple of years. And I will always be up for hiking on a high mountain.
When you head on your own holiday, where you you dream of visiting yourself?
Since I was a child, I’ve wanted to travel to Rome. I hope to experience global history through their culture and, art, and architecture. Also, I want to visit the Louvre in France.
Care to join Juan on our Colombian adventure? Let us know. You can also follow Juan David’s adventures via his Instagram – @monchantt
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