Monday, January 26, 2009

Colombia 2008/09

Hello everyone,
Sorry I haven't kept this blog up to date, but after a month of vacation in my native Colombia, I had tons of work waiting for me back in DC.

It had been eight years since the last time I was in Colombia. In fact, I hadn't gone back since I my arrival to the U.S. during a cold autumn in 2000. Even though so many years had passed, as I started seeing my friends and family and revisiting the places where I grew up, it felt as if I had been away for only a couple years. The generosity of the people and their warmth with which they opened the doors made it seem as if I was just coming back from a long vacation.

Although little had changed from the Colombia I left behind, I found new places that, while always there, I never ventured to explore them. We grew up in a capsule that sometimes saw these places a threats to our daily routines. Such is the case of the 'Galeria' or open market. I grew up thinking these places are not only dangerous because of the people you can find there, but also putrid with the nastiest odors and scenes. Why would anyone dare to go there having nice supermarkets? i would asked myself.

This time couldn't have been more different. I went to every Galeria I could find. I talked to vendors, customers, homeless, kids, everyone that would answer my endless questions about 'where this comes from' or 'the way one cooks that'. I smelled, observed, touched, and felt the diversity of this beautiful country, pleasures that I had unintentionally neglected for so long. It's in a market where you can see 'live' the foundation of a country, its character, its resilience, its uniqueness. The cornucopia of color, a weak scent of fish and cilantro in the air, and the music of people going about their business was definitely one of my best memories I took back to the US.

Whenever someone asks (and sometime without asking), I tell people that if you really want to see, feel, hear and understand a country you must experience the three MMMs. This is the time when you take out your pen and take note:
  • MARKET (Galleria, marché or where ever people buy and sell their stuff)
  • MATCH(whatever the national sport is)
  • MASS(or whatever religious celebration the country has)
Untainted by the tourist-friendly brush, these places will show you what societies in the developing world are really about. Here you'll see exposed people's routines, their passions, and their devotions. Anyway, next time you travel follow these simple recommendations, I'm sure the experiences will leave you unforgettable memories.

Talk to you later!

PS: see my other pics