Colombia - a huge nation
The name, Colombia, still triggers a vast amount of associations with drug lords such as Pablo Escobar, the FARC and cocaine. The country has been stigmatized and it's difficult to get away from these cliches that still seem to influence people when considering whether or not to
travel to Colombia
or just thinking about it for that matter. Having spent a fair bit of time here, I've discovered that there are a vast number of
The main positive association,
is sweet but a tad exaggerated and romanticized at times. Coffee pickers have a fairly tough life to say the least. (That said, the coffee region is an absolutely stunning place to visit). The alternative being Colombian flowers thanks to, well, the flowers of course, but also the movie about, surprise surprise, a drug trafficking “mule” in Maria Full of Grace.
There is of course much more to the
of this large and populous country.
President Alvaro Uribe
has become a name people are familiar with and rightly so.
The relationship between DEAR LINA and Colombia
One of my desires with Dear Lina, was to make a film that would give some insight into the the depth of the country by portraying just one person - my wife. My hope was that understanding more about her hopes and dreams, not least of all longing for and relationship to her homeland, family and friends, that a deeper understanding could be formed.
Here are several
pictures from around the country
that may be of interest to get a better idea of what it looks like.
If you want extensive information about Colombia, please visit
Drugs trafficking to tourism
Yes, there is an illegal drugs trade problem, corruption exists, kidnappings do still occur and so on but I will continue to insist that this is a huge generalization that doesn't take the vast majority into consideration.
Granted, the media has begun portraying a more positive image of the country over the years (at times an exaggerated overreaction it seems) now that far more people travel here every year either to enjoy the tourist attractions such as Cartagena which is essentially one big museum, to learn Spanish, retire, work or enjoy the new and emerging
Rich / poor divide
There is an enormous rich/ poor divide and the minimum salary is just under US$ 300 per month. The affluent who tend to live in the larger
such as the capital,
Medellin or Cartagena often living in luxury with maids, and nannies, safe and sound in gated communities. Housing standards vary vastly from architectonic marvels to shanty towns and homelessness.
It seems the majority of the world is far more about such extremes in wealth than the relatively more egalitarian societies that have developed in Western Europe and North America even though we're beginning to see a severe challenge and reversal of this, possibly short-lived, era as energy, food and commodity prices surge. The latter being one of Colombia's advantages for the future as this nation, enormously wealthy in natural resources, has begun to experience growth similar to that of the BRICS countries, although on a slightly smaller scale.
here vary a lot and it's difficult to come with a clear-cut definition. Nevertheless...
Women here are frequently portrayed for their beauty and yes, they often are. However, there is no shortage of female professionals at all levels of society but in truth, a fair amount of the old values do remain in terms of who does the housework, cooking, taking care of the baby and so on. The girls are often sought after through dating or even sleazier institutions as there is a large sex industry here.
Men range vastly from refined and highly intelligent people such as the ex-president Alvaro Uribe, Botero, Gabriel Garcia Marquez to name a few obvious examples, but also to fair and hardworking men who's lives are hard but honest that run subsistence farms for example.
It strikes me that
are growing up in a different country than the previous generations. It depends of course on your social background and where you're from but the economy is improving and new possibilities have arisen for a new generation where social mobility has become a fact of life. I'm not saying it's easy nor that everyone can benefit from the possibilities, but that it is, for at least more people, a possibility.
Colombian culture & history
There's so much more to this country. The culture is varied and rich. The folklore transmitted through oral tradition stems from the colonial settlers and also from African slaves brought here under Spanish rule.
Remember that this is geographically a large country with diverse cultural and historical roots. The music is of course an entire lexicon unto itself as is is the long and complicated history.
There are of course far more artists here than the famous painter, Fernando Botero and a thriving contemporary art scene, particularly in the capital.
Traditional recipes are being challenged by new and absolutely delicious cuisine that embraces the vast diversity of agricultural products that can be produced here to the the variety of climatic regions.
Colombian weather and geography
The weather varies from tropical to mountain glaciers due to the proximity to the equator and presence of the Andes mountains. The map of the country, when studied in detail, reveals the two branches of the Andes mountains as you head North.