I love everything about Colombia.
I was lucky enough to visit for studies, as I probably mentioned, and to be honest, I never thought I’d like it the way I did. Arriving was pretty spectacular because it was the first time I traveled “as a grownup”.
It is to be noted that Colombia is a land of arts and globally recognized personalities. Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Marquez or the sculptor Botero, who is known for his fuller women art are both nationals. In the 80’s, it was also home of the biggest drug dealer in the world (if not the biggest). Pablo Escobar submerged the country in misery and crime, and of which the beautiful Colombian people have been strong enough to recover, and be one of the referents of success. particularly to Mexico, who is now facing a similar crisis with the reign of terror the drug dealers have imposed upon us.
I arrived in Barranquilla, where I was to spend the next 12 days representing an African country as a Mexican in a South American Nation on the grounds of education and aids in the African continent. (Yeah… It sounds easier when you are passionate about it.
Barranquilla is one of the oldest cities in Colombia, and it looks like a dream come truein the coast. Closing your eyes for a second and inhaling the smell of the salty sea is probably one of my favorite things to do when I’m by any shore. It is a land of music, dancing, and Shakira- you probably heard of her, cause her hips don’t lie!
It is known as the golden door of Colombia, because it has the oldest port, from which they transported gold and emeralds out of Colombia and into Europe, and I can tell you… the gold and emerald work I saw there… I can’t describe its beauty!
I have to add, this was the place where I learned to dance! Before, I was VERY shy, and I guess that you can see now I’m very much outgoing! All the restaurants, beachside cabannas and amazingly well preserved historical places are simply much more than you could ever imagine… I was speechless from all the new things to absorb; especially THE MUSIC! Have you ever heard Colombian music? If you ever hear it, and you don’t feel like getting up and shaking your hips, you are probably dead inside.
I found the food a little strange (as any foreigner out of their comfort zone), and everything was not-spicy-enough for a Mexican! But there was ONE particular food, “chuzos”, that really caught my taste… It’s delicious! I can’t even say what its made of… Lettuce, with chicken, with a white special magic dressing… MY GOD!
Cartagena la vieja
Another city I got to visit was Cartagena, the old and unbelievable Cartagena. It smells like flowers and fruits, and the people dress so colorfully, it looks like it’s party time all day long.
The city has been preserved to maintain admiration for the colonial conquest and independence on their soil. And standing in Cartagena la Vieja (Old Cartagena), you can really feel another Epoque take over. With its beachside locations, it’s impossible not to want to see everything. Talking about see… I’m a big sea junkie, and in “Islas del Rosario”, we got to snorkel above one of the biggest coral reefs in the world! It was amazing, and all the colorful fish, rays, sharks and everything you get to see below… Makes you understand that these beautiful beings do not belong in an aquarium, but in the vast arm length of our Mother Earth.
The fun I’ve had and the friends I made I’ll never forget, and I’ve seen them grow into professionals.
Did you know that the Barranquilla carnival is the second largest in the world? Yeah, is THAT big of a deal, and although I have not been there yet (although I will, promise)… I have been living it through the eyes of this year’s queen, who is one of the first friends I made on my trip. Way before she was considering being Her Majesty in the biggest party of the country!
Colombia not alone: The harsh truth for Latin America
Overall, Colombia is a country full of contrasts. There is a huge division between the rich and the poor, which is not exclusive to this nation. On one side, it looks like the Miami beach you see in movies, but better. On the other, you can see the poverty line take over many families and homes. It is a cruel reality that many Latin American countries -including Mexico, as one of the clearest definitions of this polarization- and which in many ways, people have learned to ignore or live with, instead of fighting vehemently for their amazingly rich countries.