• Isa

Why Colombia isn't what you think it is.

Updated: Oct 26, 2019

Anyone who knows me would be doing one of three things right now: yawning, rolling their eyes, or maybe taking a slight interest in the post, but my best bet is that it's one of the first two options.


I would call myself a patriot. No shame in that, i'm sure many of you would do the same. We're all passionate about something, and I happen to be passionate about this: proving to you all that Colombia is NOT just drowning in corruption, and that not everyone from there is Pablo Escobar's child or grandchild.


Yes, obviously Colombia has its issues. What country doesn't, and who am I to deny what happened? Believe it or not it's impacted my family and relatives much more than many of the ignorant commenters think, and it's time for someone of my age to talk about it, or I think at least.


I want to start by talking about Escobar himself, and this is the Bottom Line: If your own family wasn't directly impacted by Escobar and his vile activity, then you knew families who were. His influence was widespread, and I'll give it to the man, he was clever, but in the most evil of ways. Escobar has left a mark on the country, my grandmother's home, my mother's home, my sister's home, my home. Generations, even to this day, are still impacted by the actions of Pablo Escobar. The country, similarly to other emerging economies, has been through turmoil, with corruption in general, and the sheer number of people murdered due to Escobar's regime. He was responsible for the deaths of over 4,000 people, on record. If that doesn't speak words to you then I have no clue what will.


He died on the 2nd of December, 1993, at the age of 44. Gunned down by the Colombian Government, reportedly helped by the USA. I apologise for the gore of this next image, but this truly was how the natives felt when he died


The death of Escobar

Look at the smiles on their faces, does that not tell you anything? This photo right here marks the beginning of an end, and the blossoming of a prosperous future for the nation.


However, as if it wasn't bad enough, and as if we as a country were not trying to rebuild and come together after our losses, Narcos emerged from the depth of a Netflix production room in 2015, causing ignorance to blossom in every corner. Fine, you do you, watch the show and enjoy it, because the man was clever and people are into that sort of stuff, I understand; however, do not approach me and ask if I am: A) a drug dealer B) Pablo Escobar's daughter, or C) or if my parents do cocaine. It's offensive, stereotypical, ignorant, and makes you look completely uneducated. I'm pissed. Could you tell?


But now my anger has subsided and I'm here to tell you about why this country, Colombia, is so beautiful, and why I am so proud to be a Colombian. Not to be cheesy, but I have to get this off my chest, my pride swells. Colombians are proud of their country, in my opinion, for three reasons: the incredible landscape that never fails to amaze me, the cultural diversity everywhere you go, and the resilience of the people themselves. They stick together, no matter what.


I'm going to start on the landscape. This is Medellin, and in my opinion it's incredible, but you lot can judge for yourselves.



Coffee Region Fruit Stand

Ethic


It's an incredibly vibrant country, all round. All the towns and villages are colourful and buzzing with life; it's the spirit of the people that adds to the country too. Without them it wouldn't be the same. Colombian people are some of the kindest people, but also the most driven.



Cartagena, February.


Music


Then we have the music; the music in Colombia is so diverse, but if you're not from the country you might just shave it down to Maluma, J Balvin, Shakira, or Juanes, or Salsa music, but no. If you happen to be like me and listen to music 25/8, enjoy instrumentals (especially the piano and brass) then Colombian music is for you. I could list hundreds of genres but the main ones are: Reggaeton (which dominates South America), Cumbia, Salsa, Bachata, and Vallenato. And, obviously, with music, comes dancing, and let me tell you, if you think you're a brilliant dancer you have not danced with a Colombian, one of them being my mum, or my aunties; I was in this boat, and then she showed me up in front of what felt like a hundred people, brilliant.


Music and dancing are a way of life in Latin America, you will always hear a steady beat playing whenever you enter a household, always. It's how people work. It's common in my house too, even here; every morning my mamá will be playing Salsa of some kind, the works of Oscar De Leon or Joe Arroyo, or when cooking is taking place; music keeps the rhythm of the day going, it's relied upon. This is Champeta, a genre of music in Colombia that originates from the African roots, mainly heard on the coast, in this case in Cartagena.



Cuisine


If you want to see a family pull together then watch them cultivate in the kitchen. It never fails to amaze me when I get to watch the Colombians cook; they produce the best tasting food in the most casual manner. Our national dishes vary, and in common to many Caribbean and African countries, the sheer amount of Plantain, or Plátano, that we consume daily is ridiculous. The main national dishes are Bandeja Paisa (pork rind, avocado, black beans, plátano, and fried egg), Sancocho (a stew consisting of a meat, cassava, sweetcorn, and plátano), and my personal favourite, Arepas. No joke, Arepas keep my family and I together, they are the glue of my household.


Arepas, the one thing I would give anything up for.

A wall of arepas that I Lowkey High-key always show my friends phots of.


I love to cook, and I learnt from my mother, and no doubt I'm still learning and taking on her talent, but that is simply an example of how important cooking is in the household. You train your children up to be able to provide for their family, because at the end of the day family is the most important thing in Colombian culture.


You dance with your family, eat with your family, laugh and cry (especially in the past thirty or so years), and you always stay together.


So, in short, I love my country, if you couldn't tell or if I hadn't gloated about it enough already. I'm probably not going to change any opinions on this one, some of you will laugh at me, call me stupid for writing this as my first post on this blog, but this is me, this is what I care about, home is home, simple as.


Things like Narcos, although being a pain in the ass most of the time, do not get me wrong, have made the Colombians stronger, and only more determined to prove the ignorant wrong. However, Narcos will annoy me much more than it will someone who lives there; they are immersed in the struggle everyday, but I am not. Although my blood is there, I'm in London, thousands of miles away, so really you could say that I have no place to speak, but I do because I've seen it, I've cried about it (hormonally, don't get me wrong), and I've had restless nights after spats with people who are mistaken on this subject.


So, please, just think about things, instead of focusing on the cocaine and corruption, focus on the beautiful landscape, people, the insane food (anyone who knows me knows that I really do not shut up about Arepas), and the awe-inspiring spirit of the nation. We may have been through ridiculous struggle, pain even, but that has strengthened us, and made Colombia one of the most beautiful countries known to man.



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