126. A Place Toured (Columbia & Peru)

     A friend of mine grew up in Columbia. Her family was still there. She had come to Canada to live out her married life and raise her children.  She asked three friends, myself included, to go to Columbia in 2008. She wanted to introduce us to her family and her country.

     What I knew about Columbia was not good.  Drugs and guns and drugs and gun trafficking.  Lots of killings, unrest, scary sounding place.

     I had no time to research.  I was in a new relationship. I had just met Bob. My dad was sick that summer, had surgery and died in September.  I had committed to going to Columbia earlier that year.

     One of the friends going had asked if I’d go to Peru too, saying Machu Pichu is a wonder of the world and we’d be in the country next door.  I said sure.  It didn’t matter to me. It was within one week of my dad’s passing and whatever was decided for months down the road, was fine with me.

     I was sitting in front of my computer one day and Bob sent me a three-dimensional video of Machu Pichu, asking, “Is this where you’re going?

      I said, “I don’t think so!” Me, who had a fear of heights, watched this video of extreme mountain heights, a high altitude, countless numbers of steps and stairs on a mountain, a foreign land.  I could not imagine me being there. I phoned my friend.  That was it. That was where we were going.

       She allayed my fears. Christmas came and went. I was on a plane to Columbia and Peru.  Neither was what I expected. Mountainous Columbia. Coffee fields going up the hillsides; Spanish, European looking cities with colored houses, colorful buildings, colorful buses. Even the fruits and vegetables; most I’d never seen before; were colorful.

      Clean streets.  They do more recycling than we ever think of.  They have sustainable practices.  In a major city, they shut down the freeway one day a week to save the environment.  They have roads where even numbered license plated cars use one day; odd the next so lots of carpooling.

     Cosmopolitan cities with incredible art galleries, art all around the city; opera houses; opulent churches and government buildings.

      The flora and fauna; different than I expected included tropical orchids, banana trees and when we went walking through a bamboo forest, under a whole flowering tree; all in orange, or under the bougainvillea flowers cascading off second floor balconies and down the walls.

      The thirty-degre- celsius or ninety-five-degree seaside resort was a beautiful all inclusive.  It was safe to walk downtown. We met women going about their business in the most colorful outfits I could ever imagine. They were always smiling.

       I did survive going to the top of Machu Pichu in Peru; bought myself a pyramid shaped pendant to honor facing my fears. Sometimes I was stepping off and down the side of a mountain with clouds around my body and not being able to see where my feet were going next.  There were no safety rails.  I wondered how many stepped off and were never seen again.

     Both countries are worth seeing and experiencing.

                                                        January 11, 2016


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