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Budget: Money Talk – Colombia 2009

Below is how money was spent for my 10 months trip across Latin America (Aug 2009 to June 2010). Colombia was the first country, then I went up to Mexico and visited Cuba. I didn’t really do a estimation of how much I should spend. I just went with the flow. Now, I’m much better in creating a budget and sticking to it. I stayed in Colombia for 4 months and took Spanish classes for 3 months at two different institutions. I also took Spanish classes at Nicaragua and Guatemala. Some countries were cheaper than others. By far, Costa Rica, Belize, Mexico and Cuba were the most expensive. Those were the countries where I had to be very strict on how I spent money. Whereas, in countries such as Honduras and Nicaragua, I could afford to pay more for better hostels, take more comfortable buses and eat at nicer places. Panama and Colombia are in the middle tier, sometimes I enjoyed ‘luxury’, other times I was careful on what I spent money on. Below, you will find a breakdown on how money was spent in general and by country/city. Oh, a good amount went towards ATM and Credit Card transaction fees.

Country Total USD Per Day (USD) Duration
Colombia $5,914.78            $53 16 Weeks
Panama $1,148         $32.8      5 Weeks
Costa Rica $294 $49 6 days
Nicaragua $1,679.29 $50 5 Weeks
Honduras $1,110.69 $26.4 6 Weeks
El Salvador $255.48 $36.5 1 Week
Guatemala $951.13 $45 3 Weeks
Belize $277 $40 1 Week
Mexico $902.54 $44 3 Weeks
Cuba $910 $65 2 Weeks
Sub Total $13,442.91
Ticket $1,490.50
Shots & other travel gears   $1,138.06  Included Backpack, medications, travel insurance e.t.c
Total $16,071.47
 *Ticket was Multi-city:First leg: Atlanta – Miami – Medellin (Colombia). Second Leg: Cartagena (Colombia) – Panama City. Third Leg: Mexico City – Havana (Cuba) – Panama City – Guatemala City. Fourth Leg: Mexico City – Houston (Texas, USA)

Colombia 2009: Aug 13 to Dec 12, 2009

Colombia USD Duration
Medellin $4,862.78 3 Months
Bogota $200 5 Days
Cali & Buenaventura $540 2 Weeks
Cartagena $312 1 Week
Total $5,914.78 4 Months
Medellin: Breakdown USD Duration
Spanish classes $1,572 7 Weeks
Home stay (2 meals per day, Laundry & Internet) $1,540 8 Weeks
Belly Dancing $103
Student Visa $150
Others (Food, Entertainment, Weekend trips, Tours, In-City transportation) $1,497.78
Total $4,862.78
Panama (Panama City, Bocas, David, Playa Las Lajas & San Blas) USD 1148
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $1,076
ATM fee $73
Costa Rica (Puerto Viejo & San Jose) USD 294
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $280
ATM fee $14
Nicaragua (Managua, Leon, San Juan del Sur, Playa Popoyo, Isla Ometepe, Corn Islands & Granada) USD 1679.29
ATM fee $86.21
Domestic Flight $171.33
Spanish class & Homestay $260
Fedex Shipment to the USA $221.83
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $939.92
Honduras (La Ceiba, San Pedro Sula, Copan, Sambo Creek, Tela) USD 1110.69
ATM fee $56.80
Other (Hostel, weekend trip, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $673.89
Room & Board $380
El Salvador (San Salvador, Playa El Tunco & Mozote) USD 225.48
ATM fee $5.48
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $250
Guatemala (Antigua, Lago Atitlan & Xela) USD 951.13
ATM fee $20.99
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $815.14
Spanish class $115
Belize (San Iganacio, Hopkins & Caye Caulker) USD 277
ATM fee $5
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $272
Mexico (Mexico City, Tulum, Merida, Oaxaca, Palenque & San Cristobal de las Casas) USD 902.54
ATM fee $10
Tour – (Chichen Itza) $35
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $857.54
Cuba (Havana, Santa Clara & Trinidad) USD 910
ATM fee $10
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $900

Cold Bogota – Salsa Cali – ? Buenaventura – Beautiful Medellin – !Oh Cali, you will be missed!

I was happy to leave Bogota behind, it’s not that ugly but it is too cold. I only stayed 5 days and I met wonderful people at the hostel – Hostal Destino Nomada. I also went to the Salt Cathedral 2hours away from Bogota and Monserrate. The Salt Cathedral is very impressive – an underground cathedral made completely from salt, if you are in Bogota I suggest you visit. Monserrate has a beautiful view of the city and artisan craft market, it’s great but I prefer the metro cable ride in Medellin. The walls of Bogota are covered with political graffiri and they have beautiful streets in the La Candeleria district – around Calle 11 I think.

So on to Cali I went, the weather was not as hot as I was told by people and the city is very relaxed, everything goes at a slow pace in Cali, I stayed 4 days in Calidad house hostel where I met this loco guy from Belgium – we went to the zoo together. The Lonely planet travel guide book said it is the best zoo in Colombia so my hope was very high, anyways the zoo was not very big nor impressive but it is something to do during the day in Cali.

colo09 3e
I took a side trip to Buenaventura and hoped to see San Cipriano also – the trip to Buenaventura was very bumpy – the roads are very bad, there was traffic because of construction and the route is safe -heavily patrolled by the Colombian army. On getting there, I asked around from a hotel or hostel and I was referred to an hotel in town – I paid more for a room that I would have paid in Cali, Medellin or Bogota for the same class of hotel and the room was very shitty, dirty and had mold on the walls. The hotel was very loud also, the next morning I went about looking for something else. I couldn’t find anything better so I settled for Hotel Estellar Estacion- a very expensive one, at that time I had no choice, my allergies had gone from manageable to worse and I just needed a decent place to chill.

This hotel is absolutely spetacular – its in front of the beach, the cafeteria serves some of the best foods ever, the rooms are comforable and comes with a balcony – offcourse all these come with a price eehn, over USD 80 per night!.

Well left the next day to Cali, but stayed at Pelican Larry Hostel this time around, met more amazing people and the hostal staffs are awesome. Halloween night, we partied – you know clubs in Juanchito and Manga area stay open to 7am in the morning, it was fun watching people, some costumes are 100% ridiculus but well its halloween. I also got the chance to hang out with my friend’s family in Cali, i enjoyed hanging out with them, they are really wonderful people. Cali is a great place to chill, people watch and learn salsa – there is not much to see during the day but a lot at night. The Chipichape mall is the best I have been to in Colombia, at night people go there to drinks because they have bars in the centre area of the mall. I see myself living in Cali in the future, it remind me of my hometown in Nigeria – Lagos. I really wished I would stay in Cali but there I could not find a spanish school there. I changed my mind about studying spanish in Cartegena because the program there was more expensive than Medellin or Bogota and going back to Bogota was not an option for me, so it was Medellin again for a whole month.
colo09 3f
I planned on surprising my friends in Medellin so I didn’t tell them the precise date I would be coming back. I left Cali thursday night and arrived at Medellin 7am friday, went directly to my new host family house and to the Universidad EAFIT campus. I popped out in front of Lexie while she was chatting with Joe, NuNu and Stephan – the surprised look on her face was priceless – absolutely priceless, same went with Juliana, Iris, Violeta, Freddy, Oliver y Nicolas. I felt glad being with my friends again and seeing Son, Diego y Chris again was Chevere. This weekend will be chilled because a lot of my friends are having their final exam next week so they have to study a lot.

There are some stuffs I’m not too happy about but willing to try them. One is my new host family, I was hoping to return to my old host family but the school in Cartegena charges a USD$200 fee for cancellation, thats too much money to waste. The new family family seem nice, it is just the woman and her husband in a house in the middle of nowhere and no wi-fi. The other thing is I will not longer be taking classes at EAFIT, same reason as the previos, the cancellation fee is too much and I will miss the ‘Miss America’ beauty pageant on the 11th in Cartegena. But the other things I am very excited about is I will be returning to belly dancing, I would begin Volunteer work next week.