‘It’s not Narcos’
Ethan Delgado is a local traveller and keen photographer who spent five months studying abroad in Colombia.
By Ethan Delgado
If I mention to you the country of Colombia, what would be the first thing to come to mind? Most likely Pablo Escobar, armed guerrillas and coffee, right? Well I don’t blame you.
When I first heard the list of the countries I was able to choose for my year abroad, I was a bit shocked to hear “Colombia” As any other person who had watched Netflix’s show “Narcos” my
initial gut reaction was “Is it safe? Will I get abducted by narco-fuelled guerrillas?”
But I thought that going down in the middle of the Amazon while a barrage of bullets flies by me might not be the worse way to die.
My initial reactions were not helped by the presentation that my university gave me: “Don’t carry valuables, dress down when you’re outside, stay inside after dark, etc...” But I quickly found out how exaggerated this was, and they actually meant, in the words of Colombians “No des papaya” (Don’t give anyone a reason to rob you).
I spent a total of five months studying photography in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia and I was amazed at the difference in perception from the outside and living there. I was staying in the centre of Bogotá, an area called La Candelaria filled with beautiful old Spanish colonial buildings overlooked by the eastern Andes mountain range, where you can climb Monserrate and overlook the whole city.
Colombian people are very warm and welcoming to foreigners. They have no problem showing you around if you get lost or if you’re simply looking for a great place to have nice lunch but be sure not
to mention Pablo Escobar to any Colombian person as they don’t enjoy that their country is still associated with the drug kingpin.
If you’re looking for a less touristic city, Bogotá is your best bet, but the tourist hotspot Cartagena remains one of my favourite places in the world. Cartagena’s old town is reminiscent of Seville with colonial Spanish buildings coloured in pastel yellows, reds and blues, all the while preserving the afro-Caribbean roots of the region.
Just outside the old town is an area called Getsemani (the old slaves’ town) which is full of vibrant street art, delicious restaurants and amazing people.
Colombia is misunderstood, and it’s a truly remarkable place.
The tremendous beauty of the country has given me a love for photography and the drastically different culture has changed me for the better. Despite my reservations of traveling and living in
Colombia, my time there remains one of the best experiences of my life. The experiences were shaped by the people I met, the things I learnt, the food I ate and the pictures I took. If you ever get
the chance to visit Colombia, snatch at it with open arms.
Ethan Delgado is a local traveller and keen photographer.
To see more of his photos check out his instagram: @lejewnoir