Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ode to Colombia

Looking through the glass windows, my vision doesn’t get much further than the rain that falls.  Through the hypnotizing drops, my mind blurs into distant thoughts of a country deeply missed, Colombia. 
Cartagena with its explosion of color and dirty streets filled with character and life, architecture, class and charisma; Medellin with its unending supply of drop-dead gorgeous women, plastic surgeries, intelligence, education,  and quality; Cali with its small town community amidst the arms of a huge city; and all the places in between, this country swells with life and curiosities that sucks me back through this rain from the cold northern reaches of Ecuador. 
Above all, the most precious resource contained in Colombia is its people.  An outgoing, lively and extremely nice people with a fervent determination to rise above the reputation of a danger that’s passed, they extend themselves far out of their way to make sure that you are having a good time and love their country as much as they do.  They are not jaded by the growing tourism but find it a beautiful thing that someone “chanced the danger” to come see what Colombia is really about.  I think back on the expression of the guy on the motorcycle almost wrecking himself in 4 lanes of traffic making sure that I got into the moto lane that the government so very conveniently places on the right to go around every toll station in the country.   The people are obviously reveling in their new freedom and are very curious and about foreigners' opinions of how they’re doing.  Having class and style, high level craftsmanship, music and dance, and a really good time, they are not afraid to share it.  Only those who sit back in the comforts of their living room and watch Fox News say that one should never go near a place like Colombia, but talk to any worldwide traveler and you will more often than not hear than Colombia is their favorite. 
All this, and I have not begun to mention the landscape that runs from beautiful islands and beaches to the beginning of the snow-capped Andes Mountains that create the country’s spine.  From hot flooded lowlands to the chilly heights in the clouded mountains you can find something new around all the corners that keep your interest and your awareness.  Hidden amongst these turns in the twisting roads are the ancient, Incan, Spanish, and modern cultures that have been pulsing on this beautiful continent while many look the other way.