I get asked this question a lot. A lot. Why did I choose to live in Colombia? Why did I give up the successful Latin America incoming tour operator (with offices in many countries of the continent) that I co-owned to venture to this apparently “tough to sale” country? Why Colombia of all the countries I could have chosen?
I wrote about this in our original Colombia Travel Blog
but I think that it will make even more sense here, within a community of expat Bloggers that live and breathe Colombia… all of us are avid travelers that chose either to settle down or spend a long time in this wonderful country, everybody has a different back story and a different reason to love being in Colombia. Here are mine.
I spent my early childhood convinced that it was absolutely normal for everybody to switch languages depending on your interlocutor, to move every few months to places that had no resemblance to the previous one you lived in and to easily leave things, people and places behind. This was thanks to my dad, who worked for the UN. It wasn’t until around the time I turned ten or eleven, when we kind of settled down for a while in Peru, my native country that I started to realize my situation was a fortunate one. From that young age I decided I never wanted to stop travelling.
Stubborn as I am – ask Marcela – I managed to keep that promise for many, many years. I travelled around the world first as a backpacker and later I managed to turn my passion into my job, as a professional traveler. For some random reason I decided to establish that 7 months was the line that defined “living” in a country from just visiting it, under that perspective I have “lived” in nine countries I recently decided that Colombia was going to be the tenth.. and last.
In early 2011, after a 3 month long stay here in which I irreversibly fell in love with the country, I seriously started thinking about not only moving, but actually settling down in Bogota. I was already getting a little bored of Buenos Aires, a city I used to love with passion but that – to me - now lacked the Latin, unpretentious and relaxing vibe I was looking for. This time, as an adult, the decision of leaving all the many good things I had behind wasn’t that easy, but I have always trusted my instinct and it was shouting to me that I had to come here, and so I did. I have never been happier with any other decision I’ve taken in my life.
Why did I choose to live in Colombia? Because this is still a hidden paradise: the last one in Latin America. Because people here are the most polite, generous, unselfish people I have met in my whole life and in all my travels. Because this is a country that breathes hope, because Colombians are more than willing to let everyone know that their country bears no resemblance to the stereotype that is still in the mind of most people.
Why did I choose to live in Colombia? Because I see a lot of foreign people moving down here, investing in the country and moving here which reassures me that in a few years this is going to be the capital of South America.
But the most important reason is also the most simple: I feel HAPPY here. Wherever I go in Colombia, big city or small village, I can tell there’s a huge change going on in this country, a change that implies people are becoming proud of being Colombians, and a happiness I can’t describe floats in the air. And I want to embrace it. And be part of it.