For the last four years, I lived in the diverse metropolis of London. I spent my days shopping in bustling markets and fashionable boutiques, walking out the front door to the chaos of double-decker busses and black cabs, taking my camera out to photograph quirky characters and the graffiti canvas streets. I ate food from Morocco, Bangladesh, Uganda and Tibet. I drank a lot of tea. I met people from all over the world.
One of them invited me home. Home, for him, is Colombia. (That’s Colombia with an “o”, not a “u” like British Columbia in Canada, Columbia University, Columbia, South Carolina or Columbia sportswear.)
A month ago, I quit my job, left my beautiful little rented flat in Earl’s Court, gave away more stuff than I care to remember and bought a ticket back to New York to organize my next move. I got jabbed with vaccinations for Yellow Fever, Hepatitis, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Tetanus and Polio. There’s a box of Malaria tablets in my suitcase in case I venture into a malarial zone. I exchanged some money for Colombian pesos ($500 = 900,000 in case you were wondering). It costs about $0.68 for a cup of coffee.
After a month in New York, I’m ready to go. On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, I travel – Buffalo to Philadelphia to Houston to Bogota to Bucaramanga and another four hour drive to my destination, Mogotes. It will be a long haul, more than 24 hours ending with a roller coaster trek through the Oriental arm of the Andes Mountains. I’ll be staying on a farm and sugarcane plantation.
Population: approximately 3,500 people.
Altitude: 1826m or 5991ft
Year-round average temperature: 19-26C or 66-77F
In London, I kept a blog called Little London Observationist. It helped me explore the city, learn about the people and the places that were worth visiting. This is the Colombian version.
When I tell people I’m going to Colombia for two months to see if I can make it a permanent home, the reaction is varied. Some people think of the beautiful landscape and the liveliness of the culture, the hospitality of the people. Others immediately conjure up images of kidnapping, civil war and drug cartels.
Like Little London Observationist, this blog will keep a positive vibe. It will not dwell on the negatives or the political situation because we all know there is enough of that in the mainstream press. I want to get in touch with the real people, find out how they live, what’s important to them, what makes them happy, what they think the rest of the world should know about their country. I want to give voice to the artists, photographers, writers – people who make a positive contribution to society.
To get involved through guest posts, interviews, contributing photos to the Flickr pool or helping me translate while I make a valiant effort to learn the Spanish language, email me: Stephanie.firstname.lastname@example.org