Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Heart Colombia

This is it, my whole reason for coming to South America. My passion for all things Latin stems from this country. Why do I want to go to Colombia? Easy question, it’s been my dream for years, probably since the first time I stepped foot on a plane when I was 18 years old. I dreamt of being a flight attendant but had never been on a plane. I was prepared to take a course in Toronto but my parents thought it was best to put me on a plane before spending the money on college. We took a family vacation to the Barcelo Bavaro Beach and Garden in Punta Cana Dominican Republic. I was in my last year of high school and while most of my class mates were taking a 26 hour bus ride to Daytona Beach, Florida for spring break, I was jetting to the beautiful Dominican Republic. They needed fake ID’s and I could drink all I wanted at an all inclusive. My first night I met about 30 Colombians, from Bogota all around my age on their graduation trip. I spent the rest of the week with them discovering I lacked the partying skills Colombians have. I couldn’t quite keep up. After passing out on a pool lounge chair, ten of them carried the chair and me in it back to my hotel room and told my mom her daughter is very drunk.
Besides the drinking I learned about salsa, Shakira, Spanish, their home and culture. I was fascinated by them. I will always remember dancing salsa on the beach under a blanket of stars with the one boy I fancied. Although he did ditch me for an American Britney Spears look alike.
Even before then I was very much interested in the Latin culture especially dancing. I tried to take salsa lessons with a boyfriend when I was 16. He had two left feet and absolutely no rhythm.
In the ten years since my trip to the Dominican Republic I had kept saying Colombia is the one country I want to visit, for the music, the dancing, the beautiful men, the coffee, the landscape, the beaches, the mountains, the villages, the cities, the scandals, the conflicts and the corruption. This country isn’t plastic, it isn’t in a prophylactic bubble created by the government, it’s real and alive. I wanted to know this country that I had already fallen in love with, but I kept going to other places, Europe, Thailand, Egypt, and Mexico. If it was my dream why didn’t I just jump on a plane and go? It’s that easy. I would tell everyone I want to go to Colombia and whenever I met a Colombian I was captivated and wanted to know everything about their country. Seven years ago I met a Colombia guy on a bus in Toronto. I thought he was quite cute as well. We chatted a while and exchanged e-mails. I was determined to stay in contact because I knew I would get there one day.
Even on this trip I could have flown direct to Colombia for a lot cheaper than Lima. I think the whole time I knew Colombia was it for me. If I flew right to Colombia in the beginning I wouldn’t have seen Machu Picchu or experienced Bolivia and Ecuador. Once I got to Colombia I thought I wouldn’t have wanted to leave. I saved the best for last. Colombia is my chocolate dessert.

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