My loyal readers may have wondered why I did not publish my column last week. Well… I ran away with my husband and son for Spring Break, far from our routine in the US. The destination: my homeland, Colombia.
In a big family, secrets are mission impossible. So, with the help from my uncles, I was able to surprise my mother with our unexpected arrival. Although I almost killed her of a heart attack, we cherished an amazing memory.
Besides the anticipated diabetes comma, induced by the culinary delights gobbled during eight days and seven nights, we visited two marvelous regions of the country: The plain in the state of Casanare, and the mountains in Cundinamarca and Boyacá.
Yopal, Tauramena, Pajarito, Tota, Fúquene, Tunja, Tibasosa, Villa de Leyva, Chiquinquirá, and Zipaquirá, were just a few of the paradise-like views that captivated my eyes with their majestic landscapes.
The richness of the Colombian soil amazes any tourist. In El Yopal, Casanare, the immense plain overloaded with herons, cattle, and endless rice plantations are proof of the abundant resources of this state, crowning it as the largest producer of the grain in the country.
In Cundinamarca y Boyacá, the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, the Basílica of Chinquirá, and the steep peaks–conquered by the cycling world champion Nairo Quitana known as “Nairoman,” show the greatness of these states as beacons of freedom where the liberty from the Spanish tyranny was forged more than 200 years ago.
My mother’s family was born and raised in the country, but moved to the capital in search of a better future. Only one of my uncles went back to his roots. Zoo-technician by profession, but cyclist at heart, he spends his life planting rice, trees, and peace.
The days we spent in his company were filled with serenity and calm; these are the treasures I yearned for in our convulsed world and where we are a slave of the clock. During our journey through a rice plantation, his agricultural wisdom gave me a great lesson.
Rice only needs humidity and temperature to sprout. But once in infancy, the plants need to be nurtured with nutrients and herbicides to fight the weeds that steal their sunshine.
This reminds me of the Colombian people; a resilient specie like no other in the world that fights against the social injustice perpetuated by the government bureaucracy. Administration after administration, corrupt politicians steal the light of opportunities from millions of hard-working families leaving them, literally, in the darkness.
For example, my uncle’s foreman, his wife and three young children spend their nights in the darkness because the power hasn’t been installed in their village. When I found out about this, I gave my son a speech and advised him to think twice before complaining about his iPad running out of battery.
Colombian’s enchantment is travelling its highways, listening to local music and stopping at every little town to eat an exotic fruit or pastry. The greenery and the curves of the mountains filled my soul with something indescribable. They also reminded me of the geological adolescence of my country, which hinders the development of infrastructure capable of enduring natural disasters such as ground collapses and overflowing rivers.
Nonetheless, although the topographic challenge is great, the Colombian ingenuity could surpass it as long as the long hands of bureaucrats stay out of the cookie jar of the state taxes. It is a common trait in my home country; the richest states in the country are also the poorest and less developed.
Last Sunday, I boarded a plane crying once again. I returned to my good, crazy life in the United States, but the nostalgia for Colombia will always be there. Until the next time…
Thanks for reading and sharing.