Monday, October 13, 2014

Colombia 7: The Spice of Life

I am beginning to understand Cali better. Longtime friend John Palencia takes us on a drive and as motorcycles thread through traffic, horns honk, and overloaded buses lumber along dedicated lanes, he explains Colombia. It is an "emergent economy" and as such is making sweeping changes. Changes that sweep away my past. I find out the city knocked down blocks of houses in the neighborhood of Ciudad Jardin to build an incomprehensible amount of businesses;
perfectly beautiful homes replaced by big square buildings with neon signs hawking cars and clothing and meat and phones.
But I learn space for expansion wasn't the only reason to knock down those homes. Some of them were built with drug money, and Colombia is doing all it can to distance itself from the horrific drug wars in its past.
It's nice to understand the changes, but I can't describe my joy when I recognize the old San Fernando church. It is exactly as I remember it all those years ago, and it reminds me I truly am in the city of my youth. 
We shop some, but mostly ride around in the car and soak it all in. I love the unexpected differences between this culture and mine, choices that bring variety - the spice of life. It is lovely to be here. The people are beautiful, alive, busy becoming a country. They are improving their world, leaving my memories behind, and I am realizing I don't belong here.
After college and before I met Chris, I came back to Colombia intending to live here. But as soon as the attendant waved me off the airplane I knew this beautiful place wasn't mine. It's still true today, but that doesn't change how much I love Cali. If anything, my unrequited love is only stronger, and I'm glad Colombia is thriving. 

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