I woke up and found myself in the country of Colombia. It was there that it hit me just how far from home I really was. I was stranded in a city, having missed my connecting bus because of a landslide. It was 10:30 at night, I naturally had no accommodation booked on this large unfamiliar ground, and I have never heard of anything good happening to someone who stayed all night in a bus terminal in Colombia. I checked into a hotel.
This was the conversation at the front desk, in Spanish. Well maybe it wasn’t in any real language at all, but none of it was English.
They looked at my passport.
Me: No. Baaaaaayleeee.
Them: Where are you from?
Me: It says on my passport.
Them: CannnnAAhhhda? That’s the one under… Australia right?
I have a confession to make. I may have, at one time or another, participated in, or contributed to, a party in Colombia. But I swear, it was only when there was a full moon! Or was it whenever there was a moon? Wait, did a moon even have anything to do with it?
That was in Medellin, where I spent a significant amount of time. There is nothing too astonishing about this city; it is beautiful, second to Bogota in size, and has quite good nightlife. Not too much to do during the day, however. It was there in Medellin that I noticed something about the human heart. It does not do well when it breaks.
I meet lots of people every day; they check in to my life for but a minute, and check out. I generally don’t develop much of an attachment to these lovely friends of mine, it is harmless and all quite good fun and games. But every once in a while you meet those people that demand your attention up front, that you become great friends with immediately, and for a certain time they uplift you. You are connected. These people, whom you build relationships with in an almost scarily fast way, you have given your heart to before you even realize it. You have no choice, it is the secret to living.
Now it is no longer just you in your world, you have people you have let in, who you can really communicate with and who really understand you. But you must take caution. You never see them, but they always carry imaginary knives.
Precious time slips through your fingers. You live, breathe with them, enjoying every minute of fun and laughter. They have joined you in your quest to find memories that will last forever, your pursuit of happiness as you know it.
When suddenly, without warning, they turn to you and say, “Bailey, I must leave you now.” You did not see it, but before they gave your heart back, they took that imaginary knife and removed a piece of it. That piece they will carry with them forever. You will never get it back, your heart will never be the same. You stand helpless, defeated. Your heart is still beating, but the brokenness, the aching throb of loss you know oh-so-well is leaking from it. You are all alone in this world again.
As the weight of devastation falls upon you, all you can think to yourself is: I have known you a short time, I will love you forever.
I think this calls for a strong cup of coffee.
I decided to relax and get out of big cities for at least a little while. There is a lovely little town in the heart of Colombia called Salento, with a population of some 8,000. This is coffee country, where some of the best in Colombia (AKA the world) is made. A long time ago this town became isolated from the main road through to Bogota from Cali; therefore it has retained a significant amount of its traditional architecture, as well as its peaceful nature and relaxed way of life. On the main road there is always a market where many shops sell mainly handicrafts made by the locals. There is also an obscene amount of freshwater trout farmed up the valley from here. This fish is cooked in a lovely selection of sauces and served with patacones (which are more or less giant green, unripe bananas, sliced then fried until golden-brown and pounded flat).
So relax, take a hike, ride a horse. Let yourself get enthralled with the production of the coffee bean and eat freshwater trout until you question your health. You can never go wrong in Salento.