Colombia, travel 2.0. First of all we want to apologize to all of our readers for the delay of this post. We’re going to divide the pictures and the explanations of our experiences in Colombia in three parts. Part I will deal about the differences between the life in the city Bogota and the life in the countryside. Part II offers a concise explanation of the stories we learnt about Pablo Escobar and David Murcia Guzman. Part III attempts to explain the secret biologic weapon used by the US, known as the Leishmaniasis, to beat the Colombian Guerrilla, as we had the opportunity to know a Colombian man who is infected by this virus after being exposed to this weapon.
The capital of Colombia is Bogotá, a vast city with more than eight million habitants who live at 2.800 meters above the sea level, also known as Bacatá in Chibcha’s language. The Estratos are the districts into which Bogota is divided. A closer look to each of the six Estratos gave us the opportunity to appreciate one of the everlasting problems of this city as the districts are marked and defined by the wealthiness of their inhabitants. This affects the physical and social physiognomy of the city, since depending on your income you will need to pay more or less taxes. 85% of the people live within the first, second and third districts, who are the poorest; whereas the remaining 15% live in fourth, fifth and sixth districts. Everyone in town is aware of the main consequence, locally known as the ‘Barrios de invasión’. This is an expression that stands for the astonishing number of illegal neighbourhoods (literally) invading or growing up around each district of the city.
As in other massive cities, traffic is always a problem. Traffic jams in Bogotá are known as ‘trancones’, which in Spanish originally means bottleneck. Probably this is not a way of getting to know a city, and most certainly what we did is something that does not appear in any classic and traditional travel guide. One day we decided to drive around the city, to feel that we were actually sharing the same space as the citizens of Bogotá. Well, the result was that we spent more than three hours driving the car to try to get some place close and three more hours back. As I said, this is not the most reasonable way of knowing a place, but we wonder until what point this experience, being within a frustrating traffic jam, does not offer you a glimpse, the real taste of what it means to be in Bogotá. It should also be pointed out that the government of Bogota is working on this issue by applying traffic restrictions known as ‘Pico y Placa’. It’s kind of hard to find the exact words in English but probably these would be ‘peak traffic and plate’, which basically means that depending on your plate number you can just drive in certain days.
How about the countryside? We are absolutely in love with the locals; sweet, kind, caring, humble, respectful, warm, friendly, affectionate, simple, transparent, cheerful, hardworking, resourceful, generous, funny, charming, understanding; in one word: HAPPY. Our journey to the countryside consisted in a good amount of hours by car and as soon as we started to approach to the countryside you could tell, just by looking at the landscape, that someone who lives here has to be special, different. As we did in Bogotá our intention was to get close to the way these villagers live. In other words, from day one we started to follow their daily routine, waking up before the sun rises, having unconceivable but energetic breakfasts, going out to work on the countryside, having unforgettable chats with the locals when there was time to rest; well, we do not know how to express this with words, take a look at our pictures and hopefully these will allow you to explain this experience with your own words!
We have to admit that our time there caused a profound change within ourselves, as once we were back home in Barcelona, the differences between what we learnt in Colombia and what we found here are too far from each other; it was as if our nostalgia was dragging us to those moments we have tried to picture and share with you. It is well known that nowadays the world is trying to stand up again after the big crisis of 2008, and it is also well known how everyone suffers in the West. This is something that we cannot neglect, but is also true that those villagers did teach us something that probably cannot be learnt in any school or university. If your present day situation is critical, probably theirs is even worst. However, their attitude towards their job, activities, at the end of the day, their life is overwhelmingly full of positivity. One of the ways this can be perceived is the way the locals treat you, a tourist probably coming from one of the big states that in a way have generated the economic differences in our world. To give an example, this is a quote from an amazing man that I met in Colombia:
“I don’t know how the people will treat me outside Colombia, but I’ll treat people in my Colombia with my arms open”