I did not realize how, but I fell in love.
I got carried away by the rhythm of salsa and Vallenato, and fell into Colombia.
I know that every place I visit has its charm, Colombia .. Colombia is my favorite.
I swear I know that every place in the world has its charm, but I always say this: If you asked me in which place of the world I would like to go to live now! without suitcases, without pretexts and nothing but by choice, that would be Colombia. I do not know this country completely, but for sure I'd said loud and clear: I'm going to Cali!
Although, I've only been to Isla Barú, Cali, Cartagena and Bogotá, I fell in love with so many things about Colombia, that I don't know what would happen if I knew more places in that country ...
Colombia is real paradise on earth for its climate, its natural beauty, for being connected to two oceans and because it has all types of landscapes in one country ... but not only for that, more than everything, for its people, its customs and its culture. And for those of us who love dancing ... ufff .. how to deny that is such a great quality of this country...
Colombia combines too many things that I love in one single territory ... Sun, flora and fauna indomitable and unpredictable, beach, coffee, dance, happiness, history, culture and respect for their traditions. Also, its people are so cheerful and cordial!
They are so joyful that you can almost feel guilty for not being appreciating every detail of life itself or of the other people as Colombians do.
Cartagena de Indias
What made me fell in love with Colombia? Here are some great little details:
- Dance and music : For me, beloved is Vallenato Music. Symbol of celebration, love and joy. But not party like the one in my country I was used to, but that party that can be developed without alcohol to be lived, because in Colombia the conditions are already given to be simply happy. It's the party of life and of being Colombian at the rhythm of guacharaca and accordion. I fell in love with the Vallenato, without a doubt and of course of all the beautiful Carlos Vive's songs.
The cumbia and the salsa, and... Oh God! how they dance it! ...
I remember being on a birthday in Colombia (of a Colombian woman). All the guests were people of ages that fluctuated between 40 and 60 years old. When invited -and according to my bad habit of projecting situations based on my previous experiences- I thought that it would be something similar to what is a celebration in my country, however, everything would be very, very different: The tables were arranged in such a way that everyone shared, each of the guests arrived with a dress code proper of a magazine (what in my country would be synonymous with attending to a marriage: dresses, sequins and glitter). Men were very good looking according to the occasion, celebrating the joy of the birthday girl as if it were their, highlighting and allowing her to attract attention and share the joy on her special day. So much solidarity was in the first instance something shocking to me (unfortunately).
Then, and most surprising, was that all the guests wanted to dance and were the first to offer themselves to draw attention to everyone with their steps. Very funny.
I must say that I learned from that day that the shame and fear of "what people will say" is the worst of the bonds. That birthday, seeing everyone dancing and being spontaneously happy really touched me. I must say that that night I learned a lot about the nonsense that is the fear of ridicule and how wonderful it is to be solidarity with friends and strangers.
Those Colombians welcomed me and shared with me as if I were one more of them at the rhythm of the "Rastastas", cumbia, Vallenato and a few shots of Colombian Guarito.
Maybe they will never read me and probably I won't see them again, but I will be always grateful for all I learned of that beautiful and fun night.
- Respect as something mandatory Not only from others, but from their homeland, culture and traditions. Colombians know and defend the culture that precedes them and continue feeling it as part of themselves, without reneging it.
This respect is also demonstrated through the decentralization of the country. In Colombia each of the provinces is valued and distinguished by their accent, their dances and their landscapes, something that I really admire and would love to be replicate in my country. There are the Caleños (from Cali), Samarios (from Santa Marta), Rolos (from Bogotá) and so on, each of them with their own identity, their music and customs.
Also they know the right way to make you feel comfortable, part of the group and more than welcome but being respectful. I don't know where the limit is specifically, but they know it perfectly, and they move in that line to relate to foreigns.
- Colombian women: If I were a man, my prototype of a woman would be the Colombian one. As a woman, I admire their ways and I would love to behave and dress like them. They have an innate coquettishness, and they are extremely kind and sweet, without going through submission. Their accent invites long and loving conversations. Their way of dressing highlights feminine body, full of details, concerned about themselves from the hair to the last tip of the foot.
Unlike other places in the world, here to stand out for your way of dressing and show your feminine attributes is not a symbol of vulgarity, superficiality or "offering" / promiscuity at all. For Colombians, dressing well and showing their feminine attributes is synonymous of femininity, a role they know in deeply.
(From above, I've come to think that in other places of the world we have cataloged certain forms of female development in one way or another because of insecurity of ourselves, as women).
- Fauna, jungle, beach, sea, the sounds of the animals... the colors of their nature, the humid air that is breathed, ..... the endless list of kindnesses that nature has deposited in Colombia.
The sea has seven colors, the macaws show their brightness and thousands of species coexist within their lands and what they conserve of the Amazon rainforest.
- Girly tip: Colombian bikinis! My favorites without any doubt? The ones of Agua Bendita Brand!!!
- Millenary culture that has remained in the aura of Colombia, where diverse pre-Columbian people lived, but could not survive the conquest (in its majority), however they left a legacy that is manifested in the indigenous features of its inhabitants, mixed with European and African.
- The "poetic" environment that makes the sensitive and literate feel inspired to write and get excited till tears, perhaps because it is the birthplace of the great Gabriel García Marquez, whom I deeply admire. I don't have very clear what makes this country kind of romantic... Maybe a mixture of everything mentioned in the previous paragraphs.
About food? ... Mmm .. Arepas, but those you can taste in Cartagena de Indias during a carriage ride at the Plaza Santo Domingo, the heart of the walled city. They are served in such a way that they put the meat inside the Arepa and also an egg, and then they put it to fry everything together.
Another must-see is, of course, the Colombian Guarito. Short drink and effective to be very drunk. One shot. Well, maybe two ...
Concretely, what I recommend from Colombia:
- Stroll through the walled city in Cartagena de Indias. Another great Patrimony of the Humanity. Go around each corner, admire its architecture and learn from the development of events that took place there with its pirate history that made it have to be sheltered behind those huge walls where the past is mixed with the present between houses and shops of colors and flowers on their balconies. Of course, visit the one that for me turned out to be the great icon of Cartagena; the castle of San Felipe de Barajas.
I stayed in the Casa Pestagua hotel, which preserves the architecture the typical architecture of Cartagena, not only in its facade, but also in its rooms. A little expensive maybe, but in the center the walled city.
Blue cheese fans like me should try the cheese balls wrapped in chocolate. I've never eaten something like that again, but it will be on my "palate memory" forever.
I would love to remember the name of the bar I went, with live music and delicious and original cocktails -damn bad memory- but I know it was close to Santo Domingo Square too, because of he romantic walkway that was there as well, where you can also be photographed with one of Botero's gorditas. Unmissable.
Also go shopping during the evenings to the Cuartel de las Bóvedas, which was housed of Spanish troops. In that place, of course, all tourists acquired our Colombian Vueltiao hat. Then, you can go to Café del Mar at sunset to say goodbye to the walls of Cartagena and prepare for the next wonderful day.
Paseo en carruaje, ciudad amurallada, Cartagena de Indias.
- In Barú Island I stayed at the Royal Decameron hotel, however, later I found out that Colombians are agains this place and it has been criticized for the intervention it has done in the island's ecosystem. Therefore, I recommend staying in one of the beach houses that are leased; they benefit local commerce and don't destroy the flora and fauna so aggressively. I know people who have taken this option, and they manage to live the island's experience in a more natural way, connecting in depth with the tenants and residents of the place. It is a destination that has not been exploited for many years for tourism, and is so wonderful for its coastline and biodiversity that it would be spectacular to stay as untamed as possible.While this hotel offers all the services of a 5 star, it is more typical of what an all-inclusive hotel offer and I think Barú Island can offer even more on its own.
- In Cali, rumbear. Learn to dance salsa and spend most of the time with its people, the most cordial and cheerful that I have ever known.The truth is my stay in Cali was based on party mostly. (I'll probably have to go back ...)I remember being on Avenida Sexta, where you can choose from thousands of bars and clubs to go dancing, depending on the rhythm you want to dance. There are some where there is only salsa, and others of more varied music. If you are are part of the southern cone countries of South America or wherever another not country of the Caribe like me, leave your boring dress code there and in Cali dress up as to go to a real party, to not be out of vibe.
Monumento Cristo Rey. Cali.
How is it that they live with such joy? ...
Actually, what I find it harder to understand about Colombians, is how they manage to adapt to another land that is not theirs ...
Yes Colombia, I'm your fan.
If the gods of nature are real, they left all their gifts imprinted in Colombia, they were passionate in painting with delicacy each of their colors, and the sky in which they live is a reflection of the Colombian land.