Wow. Colombia. You are nuts.
What a place to experience – colorful, crazy, hectic, loud, different and the word ‘random’ always comes in my mind. Probably because our first week here was pretty random and unexpected.
After changing our accommodation from Jardin to Puerto Colombia to then finally Barranquilla we are now staying in a Hotel in the city. Nothing was planned this way but this is how traveling works, isn’t it.
When I say ‘we’ I mean my friend Romina and I. We’ve met a few months ago – thanks to the Internet and social media – and it honestly feels like we’ve known each other for years. Do you know that feeling? You meet someone, this person seems to be your soul mate, is just meant to be in your life and you’re wondering where this person has been before? Yeah, that’s Romina for me.
After her first visit in Tasmania with her boyfriend we stayed in constant contact. She actually visited me in Tassie twice and now we’re discovering this interesting part of South America together.
And phew – I am so glad she’s here and I am not alone. Colombia is different to everything I’ve seen before. I haven’t seen that much yet anyway – but so far I can just say ‘wow’.
Even after hearing about it and reading some articles that say how safe and welcoming Colombia is now, it is definitely an adjustment. There weren’t any situations where we’d have felt in danger though.
I will try to talk about Colombia although I don’t even know where to start.
Seriously, it’s tricky to describe our experience, it’s so much. I will start with how people react to our appearance. Two white girls with tattoos stand out here.. We walk on the streets and literally everyone stares at us. Unfortunately in such an obvious way that can make you feel very uncomfortable when you pay attention. Luckily this is not entirely new so it’s easy to handle. What is really annoying though are the situations where cars drive slowly to send air kisses or when people just grabbed my arm to look at the tattoos. In my first few days in Medellin this was shocking but my friend Eva told me then that this is their culture – people here don’t really have the intimate space we’re used to and just wanted to tell me how much they like the artwork.
When we ignore the reaction of the people here, the next thing to adjust to is the traffic. Holy crap! I would never drive by myself in this country, not on a scooter, not in a car. A taxi ride of 10 minutes is already so unbelievable stressful that we need to step back a second and calm down again. Horns all the time! And no, not just a quick hit, they just hold it. And hold it. And hold it. Not that this would make a change – not at all. They still don’t move. We’ve already seen a few cars involved in accidents and have made some near-accident-experiences. It’s quite some fun taking a taxi here, let me tell you that. At least not boring.
And now I want to tell you about the worst part of Colombia.
The people here don’t care. They throw whatever they use on the streets, in the bush, next to a bin. And that’s not all. Plastic everywhere. You get everything in plastic and you actually have to ask more than once to NOT get a plastic bag when you go shopping.
Our visit at the beach was shocking. Every wave washed trash ashore. Kids were playing with what they found in the sand, building sand castles with plastic cups and plastic bags. People were playing with big pieces of Styrofoam. If I wouldn’t have lost hope in society and the survival of the earth I would have by then.
Don’t get me wrong – I am so glad that more and more people wake up and are making a change. But then you go to other places in the world and realise that almost an entire country gives a shit – it is like a time travel 15 years back. This is approx where they’re at with their behavior in the environment. But I was told that they’re slowly starting to realise what is happening to our planet and that the government in starting to ‘try’ to educate the population. I just can’t really see that they will be successful. I hope so though.
All this sounds pretty negative when it’s written down. Our stay here is not as bad as it sounds. We’re enjoying to get to know another culture, to expand our horizon and to also learn another language (basically no-one speaks English).
This is what traveling is about. To get to know a country – the good and the dark sites.
I want to finish this post with the great places and experiences we’ve made in Colombia. Jardin is beautiful! A small village in the mountains, 4 hours south-west of Medellin. The most colorful place we’ve seen. The houses are painted in beautiful bright colors and non is the same.
Veganism has recently arrived! Even in Jardin were two 100% plant-based venues and a couple with vegan options. You can find more in the big cities of course, most of them in Bogota of course, a lot in Medellin and also some here in Barranquilla. We could find one 100% plant-based place, a restaurant and hotel and a few vegetarian places with vegan options. So good news! We will survive 🙂
The people here are super friendly. Yes, some are a bit meddling but overall they smile, dance, eat and enjoy life all the time. Just as you’d imagine Latin America. It seems that the people enjoy life, they don’t worry as much and just live. We can learn from this attitude. I will certainly take some of it home with me. And just a tip – always smile. The reaction is super cute and happy 🙂
We are going to enjoy a day of rain today making the best out of it.
To sum it up: We’re fine, safe, well fed and Colombia is interesting and worth a visit.
Much love from Colombia.