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We chose Bogota as our main hub while getting to know the central part of the country. From here, we visited two of Colombia’s most famous attractions: The “world famous” coffee region (west of the capital; our trip included Gatape/Medellin, Pereira, Salento/Valle de Cocora, Circasia/Armenia) and the hikers paradise: La Sierra Nevada del Cocuy. We divided our time in Bogota in two, pre-El Cocuy and post-El Cocuy.

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[mk_fancy_title tag_name="h2" style="false" color="#393836" size="30" font_weight="inherit" font_style="inhert" letter_spacing="0" margin_top="0" margin_bottom="18" font_family="none" align="center"]Pre-El Cocuy[/mk_fancy_title]

Danielle left for San Francisco directly from Bucaramanga after we visited Barichara, I stayed for a few days at Paola’s house working after being away from the net for a bit. I arrived in Bogota about a week after and started working/hanging out with Harvey at Magicville, a co-working/co-living space in Bogota where I collaborated for over 2 months. Danielle, on her side, visited San Francisco, worked and attended Allana’s (Danielle’s sister) graduation. By the time she came back, I was eager on seeing something different.

We experienced Bogota’s historical district in one afternoon shortly upon her return. We hopped on an Uber headed for the downtown area of La Candelaria, popular with the international crowd as most of the hostels are located around this neighborhood due to its proximity to all of the museums and most artsy attractions the city has. We went to the Gold Museum (the biggest pre-Columbian collection of gold pieces in the world, $1.50USD), walked over to the Botero Museum (free), the Mint Museum (free), took photos at the Bolivar Plaza, had lunch at a little restaurant and headed to Monserrate where we had coffee overlooking the city and watching a spectacular sunset.

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[mk_padding_divider size="125"][mk_fancy_title tag_name="h2" style="false" color="#393836" size="30" font_weight="inherit" font_style="inhert" letter_spacing="0" margin_top="0" margin_bottom="18" font_family="none" align="center"]Post-El Cocuy[/mk_fancy_title]

For the remaining of the time, we explored the city around our work schedule. During the last par of our time in Bogota 1USD was close to $3.200 Colombian Pesos, which made a couple of fancy nights fit into our budget. We visited the allegedly best restaurant in Colombia (#19 on the list of best 50 restaurants in South America) along with another one of Bogota’s favorites, Harry Sasson (tip: go to Criterion!). We enjoyed amazing BBQ’s at Magicville, worked closely with Liu aka Polka-Dolka, visited a childhood friend who now has an amazing solar powered project just outside Bogota and from whom I got my first tattoo.

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El Salvador is known worldwide for it’s amazing surf spots, many of them within driving distance from a small beach town called La Libertad on the pacific side, right in the middle of the country. It’s one of the most visited areas for not only its great breaks but also for its party scene. It’s features amazing south/south-east swells that create long, well-shaped point waves and beautiful beach breaks. It’s the eternal summer that every surfer dreams about. And it was no surprise to anyone that it would eventually produce some amazing surfers. In an all-male dominated surf world, Esmeralda Lopez rose to the top of her profession with ease. Her beautiful, skillful lines made her the Salvadorian Surf Champion and later on, part of the top 25 worldwide at the Alas World Surfing Game, Portugal.

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[be lost]: Tell us a little about you.

[Esmeralda]: I have always lived near the beach, but I started surfing when I was 15 on a bodyboard and that’s how I learned to ride waves. It wasn’t until I was 18 that a friend gave me my first custom made surfboard to learn how to surf. This was my graduation present because I did not have the possibility of buying one as I was already working to pay for my high school. Every day I waited for sunrise in the water with my cousin, sister, and brother. I couldn’t start my working day without having surfed a few waves before and ever since, this is what gives meaning to my life. We had so much fun always being the first ones in the water and surfing waves with a little bit of darkness to then appreciate the incredible colors of the early morning sky, those colors that make you shudder and force you to return each morning to see them again.

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[bl]: Who are your surfer heroes?

[E]: I’ve always admired great surfers like Estefany Gilmore, Carissa Moore, Sofia Mulanovich and Lisbeth Vindas and they have been my favorite since I started surfing. I’ve followed their career and I’ve seen how hard they’ve had to work to get to the level of surfing to where they are today. But my personal motivator has always been my brother, he started when he was 6 years old and his level improved much faster than mine. He has always inspired me to be more competitive and especially with him. He always tries to make me be a better surfer, even when is not in the best way [laughs] but you know how brothers are.

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[bl]: Let;s talk about some of your achievements in the world of surf:
[E]: Well, I didn’t start surfing with the goal of being competitive at all. At some point, I decided to test my luck and registered for my first competition but I was too nervous and I was not able to show my skill. It was very frustrating, but it taught me that I needed to work harder. I became more disciplined and started a routine to be ready for the next competition. I took me a full year of training but at the end I won 3 national circuits and I was ranked among the top 3. This gave me the opportunity to be part of the Salvadorian Surf Team and to attend the different world tournaments. More than just the experience it allowed it compete against surfers I had only seen in magazines. This was also the first time that El Salvador was invited to attend a world tournament, it was 8 of us and we were definitely not ready to take on all the other surfers in Portugal. Everyone was incredible surfing cold water waves and it motivated us to start training as a team for this world tournament where we placed 17, not bad for a rookie. After, I competed in several national and Central American competitions. In Nicaragua, I had the honor of competing against Lisbeth Vindas and even though I was unable to speak with her I was happy to be her opponent in the water. She won 1st place just 2 points ahead of me and I could not believe it. I then placed 2nd in the 2009 Central American Tournament. Then I competed in the Costa Rica and Panama on the world cups. From early 2008 until the end of 2010 competed with all my heart but I had to stop because I was unable to find sponsorship. I couldn’t pay for all my expenses to keep competing.
[bl]: Let’s talk about dreams; what is yours?
[E]My dream has always been to be able to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. Maybe someday I’ll be able to do it because when I started my dream was to be #1 in the country and I did it for 3 years. I followed that dream as far as I could. I dream to be abe to surf until the day my arms can’t paddle anymore.

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Esmeralda is currently working on a surf book for kids. Her goals have shifted from pursuing a professional career in the sport she loves to teach it to kids. Her days are now filled with writing and  of course, a daily session in El Salvador’s Sunzal Point.

For surf lessons from a pro around La Libertad, contact her via her Facebook page. 

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More photos of this session

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