Te extraño, Colombia.

Cayley Mitchell - Barranquilla

Our home for 2015, Barranquilla

We are home. After a year in Colombia, a month in Peru and a few days in New York City, I am back in Johannesburg, wondering what to do next. Instead of concentrating on the future, however, I find myself reflecting more on the year that has passed. And I have to admit: Colombia, I miss you. Continue reading

Frustrations of a Gringo

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After living in Colombia, or Barranquilla more specifically, for almost a year now, I feel like I’ve mostly assimilated to the Costeño attitude and lifestyle. While I still stand out like a sore thumb due to my low level of Spanish and Gringo appearance, I’ve probably become as laid back and carefree as most of the coast-dwelling folk. With that said, I still get frustrated with some of (a lot of, actually) the ways they do things. Some frustrations I can acredit to cultural differences, but many things appear completely illogical. On my year long adventure, I’ve noticed many idiosyncrasies and I’ve compiled a list of those most infuriating. Now, this does have to come with a disclaimer so that I don’t offend or give anyone the wrong idea. I see things from my sheltered, South African perspective, so many of these examples may seem pretty ordinary to you.

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Cats and Capybaras in Cali

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Cali, the capital of Colombia’s Valle del Cauca department, is a city full of character and spirit. It was the last stop on our June trip, where we spent just two days before flying back to Barranquilla. The country’s Afro-Colombian heritage is really evident in Cali, where the people are warm and passionate, and the city buzzes with a seductive energy. Continue reading

Two Colombian Pueblos

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After five days in Medellín, we left the big city and set out for the Colombian countryside. On our two hour bus ride, we watched lush green hills roll past the windows before arriving in the small town of Guatapé. This pueblo is built along the banks of a reservoir, created when the government flooded the area in the 1970s. Apparently, at the bottom of the lake somewhere lies the original town of Guatapé – a casualty of the nation’s hydroelectric power needs.

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The City of Eternal Spring

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A two week vacation recently marked the halfway point of this year-long Colombian adventure. It was a holiday that I desperately needed after all the work I’d been doing last semester. Hah.

This trip saw us venturing inland, leaving the costeños behind and travelling to the land of the paisas. We hopped on an early flight to Medellín on June 20th with the low-cost airline Viva Colombia, and flew back from Cali fourteen days later. Stepping off the plane, we were instantly relieved to escape the suffocating heat and humidity of the coast, and from there things just kept getting better. Continue reading

“Mamacita! Que rica!”

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Source: 7deadlymag.com

There is one aspect of life in Colombia that is driving me crazy: street harassment. It might be an issue all over the world (although I’ve never had any real problem in South Africa), but here in Colombia it is unbelievably ubiquitous and is impossible to ignore.

In the short time I’ve been living in here, I’ve come to dread going anywhere alone. When I do have to walk down the street on my own, almost every man I pass feels entitled to stare, hiss, or call out to me. They whistle at you from their cars, hoot as you walk past, open their windows to make kissing noises and hiss “princessa”. Often the cat-calling is “harmless” – although clearly it’s not, since I feel so angry and violated – but sometimes the tone of their voice and glare in their eye is challenging and aggressive. And in a country where sexism and sexual violence are a major problem, it’s indicative of a mentality that will always dismiss the idea of gender equality.

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