What a weird year!

This blog is a product of this year’s events. At the beginning of 2020, I moved to a new city with a list of beautiful places in Santander that I wanted to visit. The idea of having my own website hadn’t even crossed my mind before mid-March. When our in-class courses got suspended and various measures were imposed in Colombia, I suddenly found myself with a lot of free time. Since I don’t like being idle, I decided to start writing down my thoughts about my experience with teaching English in Colombia. There is quite a lot of information about this subject, but it is fragmented across many websites, so I made the decision to set up a blog to publish all my posts in one place.

Festival de Luces, Villa de Leyva

I now receive visitors from search engines and not only from my social media connections, so let me quickly introduce this blog. Since launching TEFL in Colombia in September, I have been publishing a new article every Sunday at 10am (Bogotá time zone). I try to write about various topics related to teaching English in Colombia as a foreigner, and that’s why there are a few different post categories. I have published the following articles so far:

Teaching and CPD
The importance of teaching qualifications
The curious case of native speakerism in Colombia
ELT Concourse is a priceless resource
Tips for getting a CELTA Pass A
Six ELT blogs worth following
Applying for a teaching job in Colombia (post-pandemic)

Life in Colombia
Everybody wants to live in Medellín
My experience with learning Spanish
Valle de la Samaria: Colombia’s hidden gem
Cañón del Combeima provides a good reason to visit Ibagué

Jennifer Soto: We need to adapt to this new reality
Ndana Chibanda: ELT in Colombia is a mix of fun and hard work

Important documents
● How to obtain your work visa, partner visa and cédula de extranjería

If you enjoy this type of content, consider following the TEFL in Colombia Facebok page, where I post links to all articles. WordPress users may follow this blog through the Reader. There is also an option to subscribe for old-school e-mail notifications, which doesn’t seem to be very popular. Whatever way you access this website, I appreciate the fact that you feel this blog is worth visiting. I am always happy to see my readers’ reactions on social media, and it motivates me to keep writing.

I know that posting a new article every week may not be sustainable in the long term. In fact, I am going to take a short break from blogging and try to enjoy this vacation period. I plan to be back with new content in the middle of January.

The good news is that I have plenty of ideas for posts. I managed to read some interesting books in preparation for my Delta Module Two course (which was cancelled), so I would like to write about ELT literature that I have found useful for my teaching practice. I definitely wish to continue conducting interviews because I enjoy talking to other ELT professionals about their work.

I am also open to publishing guest posts. If you are interested in contributing to this blog with your own article, feel free to get in touch.

Let’s hope 2021 will be a little more cheerful!

Cañón del Combeima provides a good reason to visit Ibagué

The city of Ibagué isn’t known as a major tourist destination and most foreign visitors don’t consider travelling there. To be honest, the city itself isn’t that appealing. There are big shopping centres and some really good restaturants, but most of Ibagué resembles a nondescript small town. The most interesting thing about the capital of Tolima is the fact that there is a square named after Lidice, a village that was destroyed during World War II in Czechoslovakia, with a sculpture commemorating the massacre. I had a chance to meet its author, José Augusto Rivera Castro, who now plans to donate a large version of the sculpture to the Vatican City.

Even if you aren’t a history nerd, there are other good reasons for visiting Ibagué. Its warm weather is really pleasant and there are many green spaces. You can find two impressive places just a short taxi ride from the city centre: Jardín Botánico San Jorge is a great spot for hiking in a beautiful area, and if you like flowers, you shouldn’t miss Orquídeas del Tolima. Ibagué is also used as a starting point for climbing Nevado del Tolima, which is one of the most challenging adventures in Colombia. There is no need to go as far as the volcano, though. The access road via Cañón del Combeima will take you to other amazing sights.

Cañón del Combeima

If you are on a budget, you can simply take bus number 48 to its final stop in Juntas, which is approximately 20 kilometres away from the centre of Ibagué. Most of the road is fine, but there are some bumpy parts as well. You will see numerous restaurants along the way, and that’s where Ibaguereños like spending their weekends.

There isn’t that much to see in Juntas, so when you get off the bus, you can just continue walking down the road. When you cross a bridge, you will see a path to Termalitos through Quebrada Las Perlas. That used to be a popular camping spot, but the whole area is protected, and many activities, including swimming in hot springs, have been banned. It’s still a very nice location for hiking and you are allowed to walk there. Just remember to respect the rules because the river Combeima is Ibagué’s main water source and it needs to be kept pollution-free.

La Rivera, Cañón del Combeima

If you stay on the main road, you will soon reach Mirador Los Sauces, which is worth checking out since it offers very nice views of the canyon. The best sights are found further north, though. You can try to hitch a ride because there are always visitors at the viewpoint, but even if you have to walk the 4-kilometre distance, you won’t regret it. Amazingly, there is a gondola lift ready to take you to La Rivera.

Yes, someone really had the brilliant idea of building facilities for tourists on the other side of the canyon! The cable car looks a bit scary from the outside, but the 5-minute ride is actually quite comfortable. La Rivera is located in a brillant spot and you can even see Nevado del Tolima when the sky is clear. There are various activites that you can do there; I particularly liked the greenhouses with carnivorous plants. La Rivera was accessible to the public when I went there, but it seems that you need to make a reservation now, so make sure to get in touch with them before your trip. Don’t forget to pack a jacket because it can get rainy and chilly in the mountains.

A carnivorous plant, La Rivera, Cañón del Combeima

If you have some spare time, consider adding Ibagué to your travel itinerary. A bus ride from Bogotá usually takes 4 hours, unless you get stuck in a traffic jam in the capital during peak hours. Lesser-known cities may not be among the most popular places to visit in Colombia, but they can offer nice opportunities for interesting trips. Cañón del Combeima is a great example of that because it’s a pretty impressive destination that is definitely worth exploring.