5 Things I Love About Colombia

I’m back in NYC after spending 2 wonderful weeks in Cartagena and Santa Marta, Colombia. As I look at the snow on the ground outside my house, I am silently kicking myself for not extending my trip another week. I suppose what they say is true…

Colombia, the only risk is wanting to stay.

Anyway, here’s a post about the things I came to love about Colombia.

5.  The beautiful absurdity. From groups of dogs humping passionately in the streets while no one (but me) seems to notice or give a damn to the belly dancer performing in the middle of the produce section as part of a promotion in the grocery store, Colombia was chock full of oddities that I have come to love and appreciate.

Bellydancer at Carrefour

4.  The weather. I know it may seem really shallow, but I’m being honest. My hair was amazing in Colombia. The humidity on the coast was doing wonders for my normally dry and super tightly coiled hair. I was able to reduce the amount of moisturizing product and time needed to care for my hair while in the country thanks to the heat and humidity. My skin was clear and glowing as well, so my makeup routine was very minimal too. No wonder there are so many beautiful coastal Colombianas – the gorgeous weather permeates their pores.

Santa Marta Sunset

3.  The coffee and snacks. One small cup of very strong, freshly brewed coffee cost less than $1 and was more than enough caffeine to get me through the day. If I went out drinking until very late at night, I was also sure to sip a cup before heading home to help me sober up a bit. I also fell in love with cocada (see the negra and blanca versions, below).

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Those were my favorite beach-side snacks with simple ingredients – coconut, sugar, cream. Yummy!

2.  La musica, la fiesta, la rumba. Being a New Yorker with both Puerto Rican and Dominican family, I grew up listening and dancing to salsa, bachata, and merengue. Growing up in a predominantly Caribbean neighborhood and having a West African boyfriend, I am also quite familiar with various styles of music from each culture such as reggae, soca, calypso, makossa, compas, soukouss, and coupe decale. I know and love all of this music. I get lost in it whenever it’s played in various circles back home. In Cartagena, however, it was like all of my musical worlds collided. I didn’t have to scan through various radio stations or visit parties in various neighborhoods to hear each style. Oh, no. It was as though everything was easily accesible and beautifully mixed so that it was both familiar to my ears and new to me all at once. Colombia is where I fell in love with this salsa song by Joe Arroyo

It’s also where I learned about vallenato and my favorite type of music featured below – champeta

1.  The people! While in Cartagena and Santa Marta I met some of the most lovable, hospitable, genuine people. Just about everyone I encountered was warm and welcoming – they all wanted to make sure I had a great time in their country. And before you get all cynical on me… No, I don’t believe that the warm and friendly treatment was because I was a turista aka walking cajero automatico (ATM). In Cartagena, many people thought I was local until I opened my mouth. And even then it took a bit more probing to figure out that I was indeed a gringa. For the most part, people were kind to me and I left a bit of my heart with friends who are now considered family in Colombia.

One of several adorable children that befriended me in Cartagena. I taught her how to pose and collect money from tourists that kept taking her pictures without permission… With her mother’s permission, of course 😉

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The Alex Rocha Youth Center – where I spent one week teaching English classes

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The owners and staff at El Sol de la India Restaurant and Hostel who have adopted me as their niece

Ai, Colombia… Te extraño mucho.  

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