Some Uncommon Reasons I Love Colombia (The Country):
It’s so cheap here.
That is what so many Americans will tell you about Colombia. Yes, its true, but there is so much more than just cheap food and low rent that makes this place special.
Here are some things that you may not have heard that make Colombia a special place for me.
ONE PLAN PER NIGHT. I make 3 plans during a night in New York City. Then I am stressed out at each of them. I am looking at my watch, checking my phone, hoping I am not late. Wondering if I should leave now, or later or never. Wondering who I can meet at the next party. Never really enjoying any of the 3 parties. In Colombia, people make one plan for the night. Sometimes that one plan turns into 2 or 3 different events, but there is one plan on the agenda. It helps me be more present. I am not looking at my phone. I am not wondering if it is time to leave. I am enjoying my one plan. I am enjoying the people that also made one plan, the same plan as me. It builds a sense of union.
CLOUDS. There is something special about the Colombia sky. The clouds are profound and unpredictable. The sky is an array of blue that changes often. It makes me look up. It makes me feel small and insignificant. It makes me more relaxed. It makes me realize how much more powerful nature is than me. It makes me realize that I should surrender more to the countless things are perfect and untouched. The sky did not wake up thinking, I am going to dominate the world today. But here I am, looking at it, thinking, you are perfect and expansive. Sometimes I try too hard. To be productive, to be liked, to make an impact. I learn a lot from the sky. I learn a lot from its clouds. I learn how important it is to look up.
EARLY MORNINGS. I love to sleep. In New York City, I sleep until 9 or 10 am every day. Here, I have been waking up early. 7 am. Maybe that is not early for you, but it is for me. I look at the city. I make some eggs and potatoes. I drink some Colombian coffee. I get more done before noon that I ever have. I feel better about myself. I have more time to meet a friend or go to a park or have a relaxed dinner overlooking the city with a glass of Sangria. With the one person I will see that night and the one plan we have made. And for that meal, that person is the only one who exists in the universe. One plan + early mornings = wonderful dining experiences.
FRUIT. I get to eat the rainbow. I get to try fruits that are prickly, smooth, orange, green, sour, sweet. It is like tropical fruit heaven. Heaven, rainbows, fruits. Sounds like a good day. Sounds like a healthy life.
GREETINGS. I always laugh when someone asks me how I am and then either interrupt me or are clearly not listening to my answer. It does not happen here. People ask me how I am, and then they listen. They even respond to my answers. It allows me to be “good.” And actually mean it.
MUSIC. Everywhere, and a wide variety. Sometimes I forget how important music is for the soul. When I walk down the street here, I remember. And I smile, Who doesn’t want to smile? Right now, I am obsessed with La Bicicleta by Shakira and Carlos Vives. It takes me to another world. One where I am riding my bike late at night in Central Park looking for love. And even finding it. Maybe that song will bring you love. Or maybe you will love the song. Either way, when I find a reason to move my body and tap my feet, it’s a good day. When love follows, it’s a great day.
CHIVALRY. My friend told me that he had a date last night. I asked where they were going to meet. Meet??? he proclaimed. You don’t meet people here. You pick them up, and you drop them off. You don’t meet here. Interesting. Ok. I am learning to be more thoughtful. I am learning to better manage time. I am learning to create an experience for you. I am learning to be more giving and less selfish. I am learning.
COLORS: This week in Medellin, there is a festival called “Feria de las Flores.” It is a city-wide festival, and yesterday, I went to the Botanical Gardens to see the orchids (one of my favorite flowers). The week before, I went to a party in the Botanical Gardens that was easily one of the best nights of my life. But yesterday, I went to see the flowers. It was a sea of orchids and other beautiful flowers. But you don’t have to go to the gardens to see the colors of Colombia. You can see them in the doorways and alleys. You can hear them in the laughter in the streets, or the faces of the children in the schools. The other day, I returned to my apartment with one of the most important and special people in my life. We looked at the wall, and there was a rainbow. We smiled. We didn’t need to say anything. The colors sang for us.
Last week, we went to one of Medellin’s poorest neighborhoods with a volunteer group who paints houses. The houses were green and orange and blue and beautiful. Our friend told us, when there is more color, there is less crime. I don’t know why this is, but I believe him. The houses were vibrant. They made me think about this…
When you see a bucket of orchids that bathe you as they fall on your head, you feel a little lighter. A little more pure. When you sit on top the Valley of Medellin and look at the city lights, you start to see things differently. You see every light in the base of the valley as an upside down star. You perceive the world with more curiosity and appreciate the people who change your perspective. You feel love with more depth and intensity. And you know that the colors of the rainbow that one day lit up your apartment, has now become a part of your life. Your days and your soul feel equally as full, and you go to sleep grateful for more reasons than you can count. That’s when you know it. That’s when you feel it.
That’s when you cross through a tunnel and on the other side you find it. You find what you’ve always been looking for.
You find love. You find light.
And when you find love and light on the other side of the tunnel under its blue skies and upside down stars and laughter lined streets. All the colors of the tropical fruits and smiles of the rainbow have conspired to bring you to this place. That’s when you know it…
You are in Colombia.