The past week, I traveled to Colombia to visit my grandparents (both maternal and paternal). My parents had been telling me it was something I should do, and that they would buy my ticket. Mostly, I was hesitating because it meant taking time away from family and friends, with my remaining few weeks in the U.S. But nonetheless, I took the plunge, my dad bought my ticket, and I surprised both my grandparents– two living in Calarcá, Quindio and my grandma in Cartago, Valle Del Cauca.
My uncle picked me up from the airport, and we took a 40-minute bus ride to Armenia. From there, we arrived at grandpa’s doctor appointment, where I would go in and surprise him. I stayed with him for the rest of his appointments until lunch time, then back on a bus to Calarcá, where I would arrive in time for lunch to see my grandma, and some other family members. My other uncle (a local artisan), who was across the street working in his studio, was surprised when he saw me sitting at the dining room table, ready for a delicious Colombian meal.
I am a big fan of surprises and it made me really happy I could go and see everyone, without ANYONE suspecting a thing. The purpose of this short trip was mostly to spend time with my grandparents because they are experiencing different health issues– memory loss, recovering from cancer treatments, and other issues that require patience and attention. So, even if it was the whole evening spent with them watching the Pope arrive in Colombia on television, as long as I was around, that was enough. This actually happened. The Pope arrived in Colombia the day after I came. Everyone was glued to their TV’s.
After my time in Calarcá was done, I wished my grandparents goodbye and took a bus to Cartago. Cartago is the small town where my dad was born and raised. My grandma lived in the U.S for over 20 years, and when I was 13, returned back to Colombia. Many of her brothers and sisters live in Cartago, so they keep her in good company. Even though my dad is an only child, he grew up with many aunts and uncles, which means my grandma grew up in a large family. NONE of them knew I was coming, except one of my grandma’s brothers, who picked me up from the bus station.
When I arrived at my grandma’s apartment in Cartago, her brother opened up for me, I snuck in and caught her watching the Pope on television, laying on her bed. I stood outside the doorway of her bedroom, she looked at me in confusion, let out a loud cry/yell, and got up immediately to give me a hug and cry of happiness. She was SOOOO surprised, and even more ecstatic to know that I would be staying for a few days.
Alas, my week in Colombia has come to a closing. Both grandparents very satisfied with my visit, but very sad I was only there for such a short amount of time. It was really sad for me to leave and see how my grandparents benefit from family’s company. If I could pause my life for a few years, I would love to stay with them and go back and forth between cities. I would stay to massage their feet, remind them to bring a jacket, go with them to doctor’s visits, and give them hand massages until they fall asleep for their afternoon nap. All of these actually happened.
I really love visiting Colombia. I love seeing all the green and such tropical plants and mountains. I love smelling the food and being in the environment that reminds me of all the memories I have of coming for two months with my mom and brother. My brother and I never had anyone our age to play with, but just walking around, enjoying yummy food, and seeing happy people was enough. Really, if anyone gets the chance to discover a country in South America, take a stop in Colombia. I can’t actually say I know many parts of the country since I always come to see family. I would love to see Peñon de Guatapé, landmark inselberg, or Caño Cristales, a river referred to as the “river of five colors” because of the minerals inside the waters. I do promise myself to discover so many beautiful sites, festivals, and natural wonders that are present in the diverse, tropical paradise that is Colombia. Such a magical place that will never leave my heart.
Thanks for keeping up-to-date!
Peace from Jersey!