“Colombia!! See you soon!”

The nature was one of the things that impacted me the most. It was my first time in a South American country and I felt like I was in a movie

I remember the moment when I was sitting in the car and my email inbox rang and it was a message from Asociación Brújula Intercultural, the Spanish sending association. As soon as I saw it, my pulse was racing, that message could be one of the best opportunities of my life, and it was. When I read the message, the first thing I did was to shout for joy and put the song “Cumbia sobre el mar” at high volume in the car, that song transports me to Colombia before I had even arrived.
From the moment I received the message until I took the flight to Bogota, I met my future travel companions and the whole Change Making Tours team in a training course in Italy. Everything was becoming real and the trip was just around the corner.

marina colombia

I was fascinated how in two weeks, I already felt part of Minca, and I greeted the local people as if I had been living there all my life.

Kenneth Diaz

And so it was that one day in mid-February, after 3 flights, we landed in Santa Marta. I had never felt anything like that, I had travelled to several European capitals, but there was something stratospheric. The bustle of people, the music in every store you passed with the speakers fighting for the loudest volume, the motorcycles and cars honking incessantly, the merchants selling their products on the street and the walls full of graffiti of street artists that gave colour to the city.

And after making our first purchases for the next two months, we arrived in Minca. Minca, that little tourist town in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, was becoming our future home.

We were welcomed by Diana, from the host association in Colombia, together with Lina and Andrea, their volunteers. They welcomed us with a typical dish of the coast: “Mote de ñame” and “Patacones (fried plantain) with hogao”. And there, on that terrace with
a wonderful views from the Sierra to the most chaotic city of Santa Marta, we were going to be for the next two months. In that terrace we saw so many sunsets, celebrated lunches and dinners with friends, shared stories and created new ones; it became also was our refuge and the place where we thought and made all the projects for Change Making Tours.
I was fascinated how in two weeks, I already felt part of Minca, and I greeted the local people as if I had been living there all my life.
I was walking through those streets, full of dogs and cats, chickens running around the gardens, street artists’ paintings on the walls, food stalls, mangoes and avocados on the trees…

The hospitality of the people, who invited you into their homes to taste their food, open to talk to you without knowing you at all, and tell you the history of their country. Because Colombia is a country that has suffered a lot, and that is showed in the stories of the people.
The truth is that when I said I was going to this country, my family and closest friends looked at me excited about this adventure but, at the same time, they were very scared because the image we have of Colombia is connected with the drug war, guerrillas and
paramilitaries.
It is true that there are still problems, and that it is a long term problem, but it is not like it was 20 years ago and if you know where to go, there is no need to be afraid, and nothing has to happen to you.
And finally, I would like to tell you how nature was one of the things that impacted me the most. It was my first time in a South American country, and for the first few days, I felt like I was in a movie, because it was something unknown to me.

So much vegetation, thousands of different plants and trees, flowers with vivid colours, exotic fruits, coffee and cocoa in the middle of nature and birds. OMG!! What colours, what varieties, what sounds! Toucans, oropendolas, hummingbirds… And finally, the monkeys.
During the months we lived in Colombia, we heard their “voices” several times, but we never got to see them. We were told that sometimes, very rarely, where we lived they had been seen, but that with the arrival of more and more people, they were moving to the interior of the Sierra. And so it was, as the day we were leaving, the last day in Minca, when we woke up, nature gave us a gift.
On that same terrace where the first day we ate Patacones with Hogao, we saw how a family of five monkeys was there in the bamboo in front of us. They knew we were there, and they didn’t leave. I don’t know about you, but I took it as a sign, everyone can interpret it as they want, for me, it wasn’t a goodbye, it was a see you soon!!

PS: the worst thing about this trip, without a doubt, was the mosquitoes! I was thinking whether or not to upload a picture of how my legs were after the first two weeks there, but I think it’s a good warning for future travellers 🙂

Marina