What do you do when your best friends marries at the other end of the world? Well, you basically jump on a plane an go visit. This is basically what happened to me. I was called upon and I jumped the gun and there I was. Pretty brilliant actually, how easily you can travel nowadays.
Anyway, as a German, the culture clash was inevitable. But besides enjoying the best coffee (Period!), being afraid of the local driving style or dancing at a local fiesta, I did learn a lot from the foreign culture that I never thought I would visit.
In addition, I tried to go on a Tech- or at least Social Media -Detox which I thought would intensify my experience and help to improve my Spanish without the chance of escaping conversation.
Now, let me share some subjective impressions of my trip:
This was said to me a couple of times on different occasions. While waiting on someone, asking to do something or simply asking questions, sometimes I would be reminded to stay calm and just relax - hence "tranquilo". I then looked at my behavoiour and noticed I was agitated over nothing and just was used to having 100% planned ahead or having people being on time (usually even earlier). I find it fascinating that everything worked out in the end even though nobody was in a rush.
It made me think about our society and the social pressure and angst we all must have that we need to check with people every 2 minutes where they are and when they arrive, how they are or what they are planning to do. Simple trust or patience is lacking and was probably lacking in most of my social encounters back home. With this new sense of "tranquilo" I think I can greatly benefit from it during my ongoing journey and take everything with more ease in the future.
Anyway, I certainly felt more relaxed without staring at my phone every 20 seconds, that's for sure. So I might make use of that new freedom in the future.
If you ever visit Colombia, try to get your hands on some coffee, even better, find a coffee restaurant like "San Alberto". I cannot put in words how good the coffee was I drank in this country. Seriously. I'am an avid coffee drinker (I work in an office, of course I'am) and love to go to the local Starbucks or Espresso bar, but boy did I know nothing about good taste in coffee.
Excellent coffee can change its aroma and taste completely during different phases of temperature or time just like wine. The taste can even stay with you for several hours and you won't taste any form of water, just the beans. Simply amazing. Just now, drinking one of my first cups back home I realize what I miss out already.
In addition to coffee, the taste of the local fruits was mind-blowing. Go to the street, find a cart and buy some local fruits, you will taste the difference. Even the tomato on your side dish has probably more taste in Colombia than the whole meal in your hometown - at least from a German perspective.
What I take from this is, that we probably engineer our local fruits too much and that we lose the original taste and value of the fruits we are consuming. This is one reason why I became a pescetarian a few years ago, meat was available 24/7 and I didn't even cherish it anymore. There was no real joy in partaking in meat so I simply stopped. I would recommend you try to eat less meat but when you eat it, buy something with quality and really enjoy it. You will probably taste the difference.
A connection to nature
Perhaps it was just the different kind of flora and fauna or the architecture but I got a sense of a closer connection to nature than I experienced in Europe so far. Through the landscape in Cali or Caratagena I got the feeling that the cities are a part of the natural environment and do not neglet nature. Looking at German cities especially in the core urban areas, you get a sense of lost nature and a controlled and artificial environment - parks, lakes and everything have a limit and a structure. Colombia struck me as a more nature-oriented society with much more appreciation for it.
Of course there are more reasons to this such as the different climate, culture and development but somehow it felt different, more natural and peaceful - at least through the eyes of a tourist.
The importance of family and the realtionship between the different groups wihtin it was the most intense experience I had during the trip. Since it was a marriage we were accomodated by the grandparents of the bride. Even though my Spanish was a bit rusty, we got by just fine and I felt as much a part of the family as the rest of the actual family.
It was a real inspiration to wittness this. Although I wouldn't say it is not similar to Germany but we usually act colder, at least in my experience.
Sitting back home now I will use the next days to appreciate what I have and to be more aware of everything. Being at least "de-toxed" to a certain degree, I have a fresh perspective and can look with different eyes on my usual environment.
I'am very grateful for this experience and will definitely remember this trip, the wedding and the people for the decades to come.
Thanks for reading!