Once Upon a Time in Colombia
Once upon a time, there was a girl who was afraid to visit Colombia…
She thought it would be too dangerous. Too scary. Too many drugs. After all, that’s what Colombia is known for, isn’t it?
But her travel plans changed, and all of a sudden she found herself on a flight to Cartagena.
From the moment she stepped off the plane, and saw the swaying palm trees, she began to think that maybe – just maybe, she had gotten Colombia all wrong.
She began to feel excited. She couldn’t wait to get out and explore – a sure sign that this place just might be made for her.
And so it was.
She came across the friendliest taxi cab drivers she’d ever found, anywhere in the world.
She came across some of the most beautiful women she’d seen anywhere in the world – and loved how they dressed, so she tried to copy them.
She started to feel that maybe, just maybe, there was a little bit of Colombian in her. God willing.
She found islands out in the middle of the sea, with nothing but shacks and snorkels on them. Here, time did not exist.
She found herself in pools by the ocean, wearing monokinis she wouldn’t have had the guts to wear in the States.
She ate ceviche everywhere.
She stopped at Juan Valdez Coffee, then sipped it with a penthouse view.
She stayed in penthouse condos with views for days, that would have cost a fortune in the States – but here, cost $30 per night.
And she saw landscapes that blew her mind. Made her stop, and stare, in awe.
Could this place – could this be Colombia?
Surely not. How could it be? For it is like something out of a dream…
She felt like “Indiana Jane,” out having the most grand, most wondrous adventures.
She stood at the edge, and looked out upon the vast countryside.
She was by herself, and yet, she had never been happier.
She discovered a new side of herself. The Latina started to seep into her bones. She felt more relaxed, and less afraid. Sexier.
And she found a new name for this side of herself.
Here, in this place, she was no longer “Noelle,” the person she had been all her life. In this place, she became “Noelia.”
She watched sunsets dissolve into nighttime.
And found landscape upon landscapes that thrilled her to the very core.
She saw great rocks looming in the distance, like something out of a fantastic dream.
She walked the ghettos of Medellin. And instead of finding terror, she found art.
She found the most beautiful library she’d ever seen, perched on the edge of this “ghetto.”
And rode the cable car with the people from these barrios, who now had a way out, where before there was none.
She found amazing architecture.
And stunning Medellin sunsets.
She was shocked that Medellin nightlife rivaled that of any major city in the world. Chic. Fancy. Impeccably dressed. Beautiful people.
She found people and stories that moved her.
And she began to think that she’d been entirely wrong about Colombia.
The amount of strength that existed there was breathtaking. To survive what they have survived and still dance, says it all.
I love this place, as so many other traveler do. This wondrous country called Colombia.
And I will return one day to this magical place, where “magical realism” exists. After all, the magical realist himself, Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, was born here.
One day, not too far away, I will be back, Colombia. I will be back.