John and I have been travelling again. It was wonderful to board a plane, and go see somewhere beautiful far far away.
John and I went to Columbia to meet friends, and to experience life in a new place. We had never been to South America previously, and it was so exciting to go somewhere new and wonderful.
Colombia is a nation of resilient people who work hard. Schools start at 6am and our friends were up at 4am to organise their children and get to work on time. Travelling in Colombia is not easy or particularly safe, and and the roads are fraught and hazardous. The daily commute takes time.
I loved travelling by train through the Andes, and seeing the gently tethered cows beside the tracks, they are smaller than Australian cows and look much treasured. They peacefully munch unperturbed as the train passes.
Spain arrived in Colombia in 1492 and their architecture and language has been stamped onto the Columbian style and culture. In every colonised nation across the world the colonisers removed so much money and assets from the nations they invaded, and this was true in Colombia. On June 18th this year, the Columbian President released underwater images of a Spanish galleon that was sunk leaving Columbian waters in 1708, when Spain was still in power. It is estimated that the ship had the todays equivalent of 17 billion dollars in silver and gold coin and emeralds aboard from China as well as from South America. It also had around 600 slaves aboard, bound for Spain and beyond. The boat sank off the coast of Cartagena.
One of the most beautiful images I saw in Colombia is the image of Mary. Statues of Mary are everywhere, and her dark skin and her quiet smile is exquisite. To see an image of Mary with dark skin made me realise that deep racial discrimination has reached into our westernised religion, where Mary is portrayed as a young white skinned girl.
Eating in Columbia is a great pleasure. Fresh and delicious, and served in yummy and surprising pairings, I ate my way through Colombia with what John called "embarrassing enthusiasm". My favourite was steaming hot chocolate served with a melty cheese that you mix into the hot beverage, this adds a richness and a delicious salty background flavour. Yum. Fruit juices actually contained fruit, and nothing else, and were so fresh and delicious. In Bogata there was a wonderful street vendor, he served stiff waffle biscuits with home made caramel, and a topping of salty cottage cheese. I looked at his offering with scepticism, but it was absolutely one of the best things I have ever eaten. ( our travelling companions enjoyed eating everything Colombian as much as I did! )
It was such a pleasure and a privilege to experience the amazing hospitality of Colombians, to eat with them and see their beautiful mysterious Andes mountains and ancient buildings, to learn about some of their struggles, and hear their stories of life. It has inspired me to be more hospitable and generous in my life too, and perhaps to hold on to all that I have with a little less stress.
The New President of Colombia ; carnegieendowment.org