Colombia 2017 (721)When I arrived in Colombia our writing instructor. my friend Martha, asked us to write down three impressions we had of Colombia before arriving. It’s always good to establish a baseline, she said.

I wrote: Cocaine, Gabriel García Márquez and Drug Cartels.

After a week in country, in the small town of Villa de Leyva high in the Cordillera Oriental, she asked us how our pre-conceptions had changed. What would we write now? A week isn’t long, but my thoughts had deepened, expanded. I wrote things like:

Cowboys, montañas y aguardiente

La Paz, amistad and reconciliation

Fertility, biodiversity and richness

Plátanos, papas y carne

Wealth, poverty and land reform

Café, jugo y fruta

FARC, para-military and narcos

Mountains, jungle and coast

Indio, Africano y Castellano

Las Cordilleras Occidental, Central y Oriental

Salsa, Cumbia y Vallenato

But the word I forgot, I realize now, was amor. When Colombians talk to their family and friends everyone is mi amor, mi vida, my love, my life. And so, as Colombia got under my skin, it lodged itself as mi amor, and there it will remain.

Colombia 2017 (441)

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