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September 3, 2017
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Local faces at art gallery

It’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey.

 

Taking that one step further, even more important than both the destination and the journey are the people—the local faces that cross your path along the way. Stereotypes and misconceptions exist largely due in part to ignorance. An entire nation or group of people are often generalized or lumped into one big basket of bigotry based upon the view of one or a handful of individuals.

 

Don’t go there. It’s dangerous.

Don’t go out at night.

Oh my God, the drug abuse there is through the roof—are you sure you want to go.

I know you love to travel and you’re adventurous…but you’re going where?!? Are you sure it’s really worth it?

In class

Wait…you’re going where???

 

Caution and common sense go a looong way when traveling

Many times, the objections above and countless others are no more than gross generalizations. The source of these generalizations? Usually people that, in many cases, have never even met an individual from the location in question. As a traveler, I’ve become immune to the barrage of baseless negativity that surround many destinations seen as undesirable. Yes, it is important to travel smart…but that same advice can be attributed to any inner-city in any location.

Before departing for Colombia earlier this year, I had several friends and family voice their concerns. One of the major warnings delivered to me was: “Whatever you do, don’t just take any old yellow cab off the street!” Well, if you’ve followed my journey, then you’re aware taking a cab off the street was something I had to do on my very first day in the country. And, admittedly, it was almost disastrous; however, the result ultimately reinforces my belief about Colombia—and countries all around the world:

 

Good people exist everywhere!

 

Local Faces of Colombia

Not to undermine the sights and sounds discovered during six weeks in Colombia, which were beautiful…the genuine, real person-to-person interactions are what stand out most for me. Uncurated conversations and local faces not found on the pages of guidebooks equaled a raw, irreplicable experience. Although I can’t recreate a complete portrait of every individual encountered during my brief time in Colombia, the following images will hopefully provide the outline for you to paint your own imagine of this beautiful destination.

 

Chance encounters

Local faces at art gallery

  • Her: (insert random Spanish here)
  • Me: (Smile and nod like I understand every last word)
  • Her: (more random Spanish)
  • Me: (Still smiling and nodding…probably looking like an infant with a bad case of gas at this point)
  • Her: “You don’t really speak Spanish, do you?

This exchange happened during my very first week in Colombia. She was working as a hostess at a restaurant and trying her best to get me to come in for dinner. I declined but, surprised by her strong English ability, continued to talk for several minutes before eventually heading home. I told her I had just recently arrived and she invited me to a free art exhibit in Bogota with her and a friend over the weekend. We exchanged information and once the weekend came around I joined them for a cultural day around town.

art gallery fun

The friend

Career change

A young man whose past speaks volumes higher than his soft-spoken nature. At age 13, he left home to join the rebel group FARC, where he stayed for the next 13 years of his life. Now, as he assimilates back into society as a musician he desires to put the violence of his past behind him while instead using his words to fight for peace.

Young Black Boy Smile

Sunday service

I decided to head up to the top of Monserrate in Bogota on a Sunday. Much to my surprise, seated 3152m above sea level was a small church that was filled beyond capacity. It was truly a beautiful sight to see families, seniors, children, and individuals from seemingly all backgrounds gathered together in worship.

sunday service

Countryside life

Child labor?!? Nope…just an average weekend day for the men of the house (and the family dog). Locals from a small village near Anapoima gather supplies for their home. A day filled with beer, machetes, wood-chopping and nature.

village life

 

All smiles

  • Nataly: “Quick take a picture!

No trip to Colombia is complete without a trip to a local Tejo bar to partake in this “national sport” of such. As for the restrooms, you won’t get much privacy…evident by the grin on Jonnes’ face once he realized we were snapping a picture capturing him during his moment of relief in the background!

bathroom break

 

Have you ever been to Colombia? If so, what interesting people did you come across during your journey?

 

44 Comments

  1. Cami says:

    Wow your ability to connect with strangers has me in awe. You were able to get really authentic expressions and that’s amazing!

    • EG III says:

      For me it’s just all about being approachable and friendly…I’ve found that even when language barriers exist, a simple smile goes a long way.

  2. Tyra says:

    I have been wanting to get to Colombia for quite a while. This made me want to visit even more.

  3. Ramona says:

    I’ve never been to Columbia. Your pictures are wonderful. It’s a beautiful perspective of the country. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thank you for this beautiful view of Colombia and once again proving why generalizations do not work. Love the pictures!

  5. I’m glad you went and enjoyed yourself! I seriously don’t want anything to stop people’s travels because fear will make you miss out on all the good things. Seems like you had an awesome time! I can’t wait to visit myself.

  6. kiwi says:

    I would love to go to Columbia. I think its one of those new hot spots people are raving about lately but I would love to go for spiritual purposes.

    • EG III says:

      That’s the beauty of Colombia, be your intent to party, relax, or seek a spiritual journey like yourself…it’s all there!

  7. I have never been to Columbia but it sounds lovely. I do know some people who have gone and they said they had a great time. I will have to visit there some time for sure.

  8. Tanya Ince says:

    I love this post! We need all the reminders we can get that there are good people everywhere in the world, regardless of their location, skin color, or religion.

  9. This is a really great insight into the every day life of a Colombian. Thank you for sharing such intimate photos.

  10. Ellie says:

    I love your first comment about caution and common sense when travelling and not making yourself stand out in areas where that isn’t a great idea. You’re right that every place has it’s good and bad parts and travelling is a perfect antidote to the ignorance of not knowing anything outside of your own backyard.

  11. Nikia says:

    I haven’t been to Colombia but I have traveled to places that people told me I shouldn’t go based on the stereotype. Needless to say, I had a blast and didn’t think twice about the stereotype or what people told me about it.

  12. Ana says:

    I agree. It makes me so mad when people generalize because they can’t be bothered to look past the stereotypes. Any country can be dangerous but if you are going to start worrying about it then you will maybe miss out on something magical!

  13. Aditi says:

    I have never been to Columbia but I’d love to go someday. The experiences of any place with the locals are the true essence of visiting that place, loved all your experiences and encounters with the locals there.

  14. I guess, its human nature to have stereotypes particularly about things we’re not familiar and when you hear terrible things about a place or country, it kinda hard not to let that influence your opinion.

  15. TC Mason says:

    I haven’t been to Colombia, but I have Colombian friends that made me curious about the place. Thank you for posting your experience.

  16. Via says:

    It can be so quick to fall into what stereotypes are but a lot of the times they are based on one or few experiences and limits everyone else. I totally agree and good for you for realising that.

  17. Oursamyatra says:

    Your first two lines are seriously mind blowing. We should get accommodate to the culture and people of different part, then only we can figure out good peoples are everywhere.

  18. I love this, you are so right. Good people do exist everywhere and finding those people is part of the reason why travel is so wonderful.

  19. I have never been to Colombia and I have a lot of great thing about it…mostly about how wonderful people are! Even though my husband and I have been travelling a lot on every corner of the world there are times we do have this fear of a certain places. An ex that we have heard soo much bad about Mexico city and when we arrived at Mexico city at 5am my husband freaked out telling us that we should wait at the airport till it get brighter. I told him that the people who are up now are those hard working people going to work and all the gangs are sleeping to afternoon! We took an early subway and as I thought there were only ordinary going to work!

    • EG III says:

      Well I’m glad you guys were courageous enough to get out…and remain safe!
      I felt the same way when I recently landed in Guatemala city late at night, but everything was fine.

  20. Svet says:

    My man, I love how you courageously immerse yourself into the unknown without any hints of bigotry, negativity, and prejudice.

    That’s how true travellers trot the world and you, Sir, are one!

    Thank you for this walk around Colombia. I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard its emeralds are revered the world over.

    • EG III says:

      Takes one to know one, right!! Thanks for the kind words Svet and I’m sure once you make it to Colombia you will love it!

  21. Hahah the dialogue between you and that woman. I imagine that happening to me.
    It’s so nice that you travel and actually communicate with the people there, I usually just look at the sights and stores.
    Seems like you had a great time 🙂

  22. Katie says:

    I love Colombia and its vibrant people. I spent 5 weeks there in 2013 and can’t wait to return.

  23. T. Michelle says:

    I can definitely relate to this post. My personal interactions with locals are usually the favorite part of my trips. With so much negativity in the world, it’s great to connect with strangers on the other side of the globe and leave with new friends. They’ve reaffirmed my belief that there is more good in the world than bad.

  24. What you say about every place having ups and downs as well as the good nature of many people found everywhere is so true. If you listened to what everyone told you, you would never end up going anywhere at all! Yes, some places you might need to exercise more caution than others but this comes down to plain common sense most of the time. More power to you for remaining level headed and being objective about your approach. As a result, you will see, experience and enjoy so much more than most will – and be so enriched for it.

  25. I love that quote “it’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey”. It really puts things into perspective. I’ve never been to Columbia but it sure does sound interesting

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