Colombia

Desert Magic in La Guajira

Colombia is a magical country.  It has so much to offer any traveler;  jungles, cities, snow capped mountains,  architectural gems and amazing food!.  I recently spent 6 weeks traveling in this wonderful place. Colombia is my birthplace and this was my first time visiting since leaving when I was about 2 years old! 

When initially started researching my trip my mother told me of a region called La Guajira…. A quick search on Google produced an array of stunning images of this desert region.   I was hooked.   I knew that I would hit all the usual suspects like Medellin, Bogota, Cartagena during my visit but La Guajira would be the crown jewel of my trip.   Perhaps I was drawn by it’s remoteness and stark beauty.    I had to get there.

While staying a hostel near Tayrona Park I met two fellow travelers; a Frenchman and a Dutchman.  We had all read about the fabled La Guajira (I suspect that Lonely Planet had a hand in that).  We quickly decided that we would make the journey together.  So we departed early on a Friday morning not quite sure how to arrive to the Northern most tip of South America.   Getting there is probably just as you imagine it in your minds eye…. There was a bus, a cab and a 4wd vehicle involved and 8 hours of bumpy, dusty, hot roads.    The final destination was worth ever bit of effort.

La Guajira is a travelers dream. It’s the kind of place that reminds you of why you travel. There is open sky as far as the eye can see. The colors of the golden sand set against the jewel tones of it’s salty sea form an impossible contrast. As you drive through it’s expansive landscape you see small house used by the native Wayuu people. Their colorful dresses dot the landscape like desert flowers. Wayuu Children are so curious about strangers.  The set up “candy” Road blocks for your car as you travel through the desert.

 

The northern most point of the region, Punta Gallinas, is a place where giant sand dunes lead to warm aqua blue ocean waters. Bring some cardboard and you could slide down the dunes right into the ocean!

 

This place is for a certain kind of traveler…. if you like the idea of sitting undisturbed with nothing but the blue ocean and a good book while eating fresh caught lobster…. this is the kind of place you will enjoy. It truly is the end of the earth.

Homecoming ...

You know that moment when people ask you where you are from ?  I have to confess that I'm never quite sure how to respond.   I think when I was younger I used to just tell people that I was from Florida because it seemed like the easiest thing to say.  However over the last few years that response started to seem really weird.  I think it must have happened when I was in grad school.  During all those moments of wondering if I had made the right choice to leave my cushy corporate job to follow this crazy photography dream,  I began to question other things .... mostly related to identity and roots.    It was the first time in my life I really sort of began wonder about the place my parents had left behind when the emigrated to the United States all those years ago.   I knew it was time to finally make a trip back to Colombia.  

It took a couple of years to actually make the trip happen but this past January I finally went "home" for the first time in 36 years.  I traveled for 6 weeks why my family, by myself and friends I met along the way.   The trip was truly life changing.   There were relatives that I hadn't seen since I was 12 and there were ones I had never met.   There were things that I never knew about our family ; my grandfather had been a coffee farmer, my 80 year old uncle still has a ranch and rides horses everyday,  my mom and her sisters used to get in trouble for playing in piles of coffee beans!   My aunt Amanda (who I lovingly call the midget because she is a very tiny woman) is 70 years old and an unstoppable force of nature who wears heals no matter where she goes (even on hikes up a mountain).   She was my tour guide for the majority of my family time and she left very few stones unturned in an effort to show me every corner of Colombia.

I returned with close to 5000 images (and that was after some initial editing!)  I wasn't quite sure where to start with editing so I turned to Wonderful Machine and together we came up with the Down South gallery.    The gallery contains images from all over Colombia including Medellin, Cartagena,  Villa de Leyva,  Santa Fe de Antiquioa,  Cali, Salento  and the remote desert region of La Guajira (one of my personal favorites... check out the blog entry specifically about that part of the adventure)

My trip with unforgettable!  I really wish I could pack all my friends on a plane and take everyone together.  In the meantime,  I will have to share the good ole fashioned way... photographs!