Introducing… Motos and More: Travels to San Andrés

Part 1 of 9 installments about traveling to San Andrés, Colombia

My view, beachin’ under a palm tree on San Andrés

Car rides with strangers can get you in trouble… I’ve learned that the hard way. But it’s also funny how you can meet random people at just the opportune time, know them for a few hours, maybe a day, and they influence an important decision later down the road.

Last year – it must have been in May – I went with a group from my university in Chile to go white water rafting at Cajon Del Maipo, a gorge near Santiago. The entire crew gathered outside of Museo Fonk, a museum dedicated to the Easter Islands, which served as our designated meeting spot throughout the semester. A little caravan of tiny cars pulled up, driven by our campus advisor and friends she recruited to go along.

I can’t even remember the color of the car I picked, but I jumped in a front seat and started making friends with the driver. She was from Colombia, and was in Chile visiting friends and heading to “bucear” along the coast of Chile. Initially, I had no idea what the Spanish word bucear meant, so when I finally looked it up and realized she was talking about scuba diving, we had plenty to discuss throughout 3 hours of driving. I had always wanted to become certified so I could dive with my mom, and she convinced me there was no better place to learn than the Colombian island of San Andrés.

Fast forward to spring break two weeks ago, and I was sitting on a plane, about to land on said-island. I passed the classroom and pool portion of my scuba course in February, and would complete my open water dives in the Caribbean Sea.

Map of San Andrés, hanging on a wall of the Karibik Diver shop

Over the last four years I’ve apparently had an affinity for visiting ‘C’ countries: Costa Rica, Canada, and Chile, so it was only natural that Colombia went on the list… even though I didn’t really know where exactly we were going. I guess it didn’t matter, as long as it’s wasn’t called Fargo!

Before we could get here…

I’ll admit, aside from the physical preparation of the dive course and packing my bags, I did very little to mentally prepare for spending eight days on San Andrés. I didn’t realize how little I had prepared, until my mom’s slumbering head rested in my lap, and my drowsy eyes blinked mindlessly up at the television screen hanging from the ceiling of the airplane above our seat.

As I stared up at the screen, projecting our route to the island, I thought to myself, ‘Surely, there must be a mistake’. Because even though we had flown into Bogotá, Colombia, this flight was taking us back north, right next to Nicaragua. I shook my mom awake, thinking we were on the wrong plane and our vacation had taken a much different twist.

In case you’ve never heard of San Andrés (as I had not until recently) you should know that even though it is owned by Colombia, the island is indeed closer to Nicaragua. In the 1900s, France ruled that all islands of the archipelago would belong to Colombia, and on March 24 of 1928, a treaty was signed, in which Nicaragua officially recognized Colombia’s sovereignty over the islands of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina. (Thanks Wikipedia for that info, which I read more than a little late).

We had to go through here (the very humid Miami airport)

Call my ignorance lack of preparation if you’d like. I would just say college fried my brain and I was in dire need of a vacation. Over the next week, I’m going to give you a day-to-day replay of an 8-day-vacay on San Andrés island. I fondly called this adventure, “Annise and Annette try not to die,” because every day presented an interesting twist (of normal travel challenges that can sometimes be frightening). I’ll tell you the dos, don’ts, and other guiding advice that helped us achieve that goal and make it home in one piece. So grab your moto (more on this soon!) and let’s go for a ride around San Andrés!

Check back for new installments of Motos and More: Travels to San Andrés!

Top of the page: Feature photo Courtesy of

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