Continuing North on the main highway to the coast is Bucaramanga, 273 kilometers (164 miles) from Tunja. The paved road is in good condition, with four toll booths and several military checkpoints. It is a major transportation hub between the nation‚Äôs capital and the coast or the Colombo-Venezuelan border at C√ļcuta. Built amidst a much-eroded landscape, Bucaramanga‚Äôs hills are like crushed paper bag. This capital of Santander Department is one of Colombia‚Äôs largest cities, and is home to 10 universities.
Bucaramanga‚Äôs appellation, La Ciudad de Parques or "the City of Parks," is apt; unfortunately, the ones in the center of the burg are in poor repair. Only upon entering the residential areas do you find the more well-kept green spaces. Parque Garc√≠a Rovira was the heart of colonial Bucaramanga, whereas Parque Santander is the modern-day center. Several once-upon villages have become bedroom communities of Bucaramanga. Floridablanca, Gir√≥n and Piedecuesta are home to museums, botanical gardens and zoological parks that make for great escapes from the city. Bucaramanga is an alternative place to base yourself for rafting and paragliding adventures on the R√≠o Chicamocha or to visit the Parque Nacional Chicamocha, though San Gil is a more logistic spot from which to do these activities.
(Altitude: 960 meters / 3120 feet, Population: 550,000, City Code: 7)
Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...