A 360-degeree view of Colombia, y no solo para los gringos…
Let me tell you a story about Colombia
Parts are a little personal.
I moved to Manizales, Colombia on (mostly) a romantic whim, after meeting a woman on a dating site. I’ve always been an adventurer. Plus, at the time, my life in Lancaster, PA wasn’t working all that well. I had been fired from a career job as a communications copywriter. After that I was fired from a just-to-make-ends-meet job at a hotel. Since the ends hadn’t been meeting in a while, my landlady evicted me from my apartment. Work was sporadic and finances were tight even just renting a room.
Colombia became attractive of course because of the cute woman at the other end of the skype connection. But also, I had a gut feeling that life might be better there.
Because I didn’t have the finances for an exploratory trip, I took a leap of faith. (I’ve never been one to think about what might go wrong.)
A lot of my family and friends freaked out. (Turns out there are lots of folks who do think about what might go wrong.) The drugs, the drugs!, one friend ranted. A possible prevalence of drugs never worried me. The principal market for drugs flowing out of any country is the United States. Well, if I could avoid the drug trade in the Bronx, where I grew up, I could avoid it in Manizales. An interesting side note: To date in Colombia, I’ve only met one person who had any connection to drug trafficking. He was an American who made his living selling marijuana grown in Colorado.
One of my best friends asked me what I was running from. An argument could be made that I was running from all those things listed in the first paragraph. That’s not how I looked at it.
I was running toward something. At the time, I didn’t even know what. I knew I was following my heart (as fickle as it could be) and my gut. I’ll leave for therapy the analysis about carrying with me in my checked baggage what I might have been running from.
I stepped off a bus in the newly-renovated Manizales bus terminal at midnight, instead of walking off a plane at 5pm at the airport. (The trip didn’t go smoothly.) It was my first time in Manizales, my first time in Colombia, my first time in South America.
But it wasn’t my first time out of the country. And I spoke Spanish. I was prepared, more or less. Plus, I had someone waiting for me (she had even tracked my deviation to the bus station!) who would help me get acclimated.
That was four years ago.
The relationship didn’t last. I changed cities from Manizales to Medellin. But my gut proved to be right. Life is better and richer in Colombia.
For one thing, finding work was easy. Potential U.S. employers had looked critically at my frequent job changes and held reservations (albeit unspoken) about my age. In Colombia, I had a sought-after specialty. I was a native English speaker which meant I could teach. The fact that I spoke Spanish opened an additional translation work niche.
The dollar–peso exchange rate turned the scant money I still earned from the states into a comfortable middle-class income.
I’ve established a home abroad; Life continues to improve.
So let me tell you a story about Colombia.
The people are friendly, hard-working, and open. The cities are bustling, be they small or large. The villages are colorful with a unique mix of modern and traditional.
The lists, the story goes on. It’s not just my story either. There are other expats, tourists, and of course, millions of Colombians who all have something interesting to say. It’s a long story. We may never get it all told. But we’ve got time, right?
Welcome to GrupoAmos on Colombia!