Why I refuse to watch “Narcos”

Because I’m bored. I’m bored of people only relating Colombia to drug trafficking and jungles.

Yes… it’s a stereotype, yes… most of countries have a stigma…  yes, we had big drug cartels in the 80’s and 90’s, but there are far more interesting things to know and learn about Colombia.

My fellow countrymen and I have had lots of problems because of this. To tell you a few, airports are a nightmare when you proudly show your Colombian passport; you are at least getting stopped and missing your connecting flight. My brother had all his trainers stabbed at Panamá, all of them (so every time it rains a great memory comes to mind). Some friends have been stopped for hours and scanned with X-rays, I saw when someone in the queue had lots of souvenirs and tablets of chocolates opened and destroyed into tiny pieces -“Ok, no drugs here, carry on”-said the officer- Thank you! Lastly… I’ve heard the comments… -so your teeth are white because of cocaine? – there are plenty of silly comments and stories but I’m going to stop here, because this post is not about the bad.

Don’t get me wrong, we have our problems and every country does, although I don’t like news, documentaries and now tv series promoting the bad for years and years. There is nothings else to say? Come on people!

Instead of getting to know about Escobar, I will teach you other surnames so next time you meet a Colombian you can establish a proper conversation with a different topic.

Keeping with the sporty spirit after the Olympics. Why don’t you Google Nairo Quintana? The first Colombian in history to win both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España. Have a look at his documentary called “Little Big Man“.

Have you read any Gabriel García Márquez books? His Noble Prize winning novel “One Hundred Year of Solitude”? According to Vox, this book has the greatest opening of any book ever (ahhhh now you are feeling like reading, aren’t you?) If you aren’t the book worm type, read one of his short stories A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings and get an idea of his extraordinary work.

Not all Colombians are short, have a look at the power of long legs. Clic on the link and watch Caterine Ibargüen winning the women’s triple jump Olympic gold medal in Río.

Have you seen the latest video of Shakira and Carlos Vives? Let me rephrase it, have you danced “La Bicicleta”? It has a great rhythm and you can go for a stroll around Barranquilla (a city on the coast). Yes, we do have cities and shopping centres.

Nevertheless if your mind keeps calling for Medellín you should get to know about ‘Boterismo’. Have you stumble across a fat sculpture in an airport or a square? If so, you have found Fernando Botero‘s work. We call it “Las gorditas”, people and figures in large, exaggerated volume, which can represent political criticism or humor, depending on the piece. Botero’s sculptures and paintings are exhibited in NY, Paris and several places around the world.

Start remembering other Colombian surnames, like QUINTANA, GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ, VIVES, BOTERO and not even just surnames of famous people. I know many Colombians that make me proud, starting with los TOLOSA, a fantastic family that likes spontaneous trips and have always been there for me. J.P. SALAZAR, founder of the first team of wheelchair rugby in Colombia, promoting social inclusion and encouraging many people with disabilities to get involved with sports, M. GARCIA, brave enough to start her food business in London, D. VARGAS exhibiting and selling breathtaking paintings, V. ALBA and her spectacular fashion at Bendita Seas, talented art directors, planners, engineers, doctors, …

There are many Colombians with an interesting life story, they are the ones that can teach you the real Colombia. Happy, strong and imperfect and that’s how I love it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Be a Tourist

Last week, I had the pleasure to meet Clare Guilloton, a French girl that moved to Colombia almost a year ago and started Monita in Bogotá – an amazing blog where she appreciates all the bits of design she finds in every day of Colombian life. The beauty in a hammock, a coffee crop, our traditional hats, a fair, a rustic bus…the design in many things that surround us but unfortunately we locals, don’t appreciate as they become everyday things.

I was surprised by the fact that a foreigner made me discover the beauty of my country, in pictures and patterns. I have borrowed some bits to show you, but you should have a proper look at her blog. She is very talented Graphic Designer and her pics so far are great.

pattern_chiva1

colombia_hat_pattern

Frequently visitors find things that locals don’t have any idea existed. To mention a few, my UK family  has never been in some spots I have; I’m not sure if Margate is a good example for a beach day or Blackpool for a night out, but blame it on the ticket seller. Anyway, getting back on topic, apart from helping the economy and becoming ambassadors of our countries, tourists can teach us a lot (clarifying, good tourists). Let’s see how:

  • They have a different perspective and see things that others can’t (I will give you a hint, it’s not dead people).
  • Tourists walk at the right pace, They don’t go like robots, they are constant observers, appreciating every detail and finding beauty in cute little streets or horrible crowded places.
  • They immerse themselves in the destination, trying the local food, talking to people, learning about the culture.
  • They have a plan, even when they try to be “spontaneous” they accomplish their goals within tight deadlines.
  • Tourists have never ending energy, they don’t rest until they have ticked all the boxes in the map/list.
  • They have the best attitude towards bad moments, they don’t go back home and cry, no no no! they go back home and peddle how they dealt with the unexpected, or how that event became the best part of their holiday, sometimes they assume “it was meant to happen”.
  • Good tourists are always welcome. See you soon Clare! 🙂 

We say Colombia not Columbia

Today is my country’s independence day: 20th July (just 4 days after my bday).So I decided to tribute my beautiful Colombia explaining to the world some simple facts:

1.We spell it COLOMBIA [with O not U]

2.Colombia is located in South America, the first country on the left.

3.We speak Spanish – not “Colombian” as some people think.

4.We do have cities – not only jungle, like on the news. We do have Shopping centers, buildings and everything that great cities have.

5.The capital city is Bogota, is better if you pronounce it with the emphasis on the a.

6.Most people say Colombia must be hot, mmm yes and no. We have all types of weather; Bogotá is cold (15°C) but if you travel for an hour by car you will be in 40°C heat. It depends on the altitude.

I believe you can’t judge a country you haven’t been to, so get your flip flops ready and visit us, you will be welcomed. A UK filmmaker just did it and this is the result of his holiday, I found it fantastic. I think it’s the first time a foreigner has seen my country with Colombian eyes.

Gracias! @Ed_Beck @davidcmead @mbfilmsuk