After a long flight from Brazil and a tedious 24-hour stop in Panama City, three beautiful girls and a tall man with glasses were waving at me at the arrival gate. My friend, Andrea came to fetch me together with her dad and sisters. Coming from a Portuguese speaking country, I had no words but to nod the Asian way. They nodded back. I didn’t have anything else to say aside from ranting for my lost luggage. Apparently, my backpack wasn’t at the same flight as I am. Ergo, Copa Airways will just ship it to Andrea’s house.
Fun fact: I met Andrea in February 2013 during her visit in the Philippines. I can’t believe I am in her country and she is now hosting me!
Ahhhh, Barranquilla. Everytime I land, I have this feeling of gratefulness and I’d always want to scream, “Thank you Universe. I am here!” Andrea and I were exchanging stories on the way with a loud blare of latin music on the background. Mariana, the youngest of them all looks at me sweetly with her welcoming eyes. She’s a bit shy because she’s not very comfortable with her English yet. Now that’s another opportunity: I can learn Spanish from this girl.
The road from the airport is like entering Manila’s Skyway to Makati City. There were buildings left and right, a familiar road chaos, street vendors and heavy traffic. Am I in Manila? I was warned that Colombia is so much like the Philippines and now I am seeing it! It took us more or less 40 minutes to arrive their abode. Entering a village, I noticed another thing: now this is like Subic. How the houses are formed and aligned with each other looks very similar with the city I grew up in. How can this be possible! I feel like I am really back home!
A Colombian woman opens the gate — Andrea’s mother. She is as tall as I am, sophisticatedly dressed in a white polo shirt and looks really young. A little dog creeps behind her with tails wagging. “Hola, Trisha! Mucho gusto.” she said. Like Brazilians, Colombian are huggers and kissers. I hugged and kissed back without saying a word. First, I didn’t speak Spanish very well; second, I was too overwhelmed. I am joining another family and blending in a new culture again.
I have my own room. The bed was neatly covered with newly washed blue and yellow sheets; I had my own bathroom; there was a big cabinet waiting for me. I am finally understanding my latin roots. I can’t believe that we are also alike in the hospitality department. The next few days were spent eating street food and speaking Spanish from scratch. Another distinctive cultural trait that I noticed were street food vendors — they’re moving with bikes and carts.
The Colombians are probably the sweetest in the world. As part of being hospitable, they were always worried if I am hungry or in need of anything. That is, including the extended relatives. During another episode of my Christmas away from home, I had a chance to interact with their relatives and I observed they have strong family ties just like us. Family always comes first. Family is important. Family is something you have that can’t be taken away from you. Family, family, family. So much feels for the Philippines!
Here’s to another round of learning, eating, cooking and living. I will spend the best 90 days of my life here knowing everything about this country.
Welcome to Colombia, Trisha! Enjoy the ride!