Joanna Zdanowska, RNA place de 47 years, been one of the tourists who been in Colombia when the quarantine began due to the pandemic de coronavirus.
Unlike hundreds of foreigners who returned to their country, shedecided to stay in a country whose nature easily falls in love.
His story, presented in this text that resulted from a conversation with BBC Mundo, is proof that the virus, in addition to being tragic, opened the door for many positive experiences and stories.
In August 2020, when Colombia announced the end of the strict quarantine, we already wanted to stay where we were. We didn’t want anything to change.
My tourist friends and I, who came to Latin America to travel before the pandemic began, found a home in Palomino, on the Colombian Atlantic Coast.
Palomino is a small town very close to a beautiful beach full of palm trees that stretches for several kilometers.
In March, as soon as everything started, I did not want to go to Poland, as some of my colleagues did, because I been hoping that soon I would be able to continue traveling.
But then two weeks passed and the quarantine been extended. And two more. And more. And so on until we stayed eight months in a town next to the beach without being able to swim in the sea..
We were in a hostel and all the restaurants and bars were closed. There been nothing to do.
Over time the tourists left and only a few of us remained. But with the days we were forming a family of about fifteen people with a very intimate relationship with the owners of the hostels where we were.
I left Poland on vacation and ended up staying the entire pandemic in Colombia because I found family here.
Caught at ease in Colombia
In 2019, I decided to take a year off because I got bored with Poland, where I also have an apartment that generates income and allows me to travel in peace.
I been in Mexico and Cuba. Then I had a plan to travel for two months through Colombia, a country they highly recommend for tourism. I stayed 10 months and I keep counting.
When you travel you meet a lot of people, but normally you see them for a maximum of a week. But when you live with someone for six months, it creates a unique relationship.
Because none of them worked, so we all spent the day together. We feel like on permanent vacation.
Every day there were activities with local people to support each other. They cooked us. Some worked for hostels, others learned to surf, there been a girl who began to teach Spanish online.
In the house where I stayed, for example, there been a family of Venezuelans with two children who discovered that we treated them better than their parents. Then they spent the day with us. I bought them books and read them stories. I showed them videos on YouTube. Now the children say that we are their mothers. That breaks your heart.
What I learned
The best thing about staying here for so long been that I got to know the townspeople well, an experience that has nothing to do with one you see in the tourism sector.
One of the most extraordinary experiences I had been when I went to a town of Arapahos, a group of indigenous people who live in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and have had very little contact with Western cultures.
We had to leave at 4 in the morning. They told us it been 8 hours walking but when we were 9 hours we still did not arrive. We thought this place did not exist. At 10 o’clock we finally arrived, RNAble to speak of fatigue. And we stayed there with our hammocks.
They gave us their biggest house. We stayed three days.
This experience changed my thinking, we discovered something that may be obvious, but we had never experienced it: that we do not need anything to be happy.
They charged us $50 for each of the five of us. When we saw the conditions in which the indigenous people live, we decided not to negotiate anything, because they sleep on the ground, they cook on fire, there is no electricity, no gas, everything is very basic; They eat only things that are there on their farm: yucca, plantain, rice.
These are very basic things that taught me a lot and made me want to continue traveling, and perhaps seek to take advantage of my 14-year experience on Polish television in one of these countries. I think it is a good time to sell productions that are already ready and do not need more than subtitles or dubbing.
I don’t need to have physical contact with my family. All I need is to see my sister’s son, who I only saw when he been one year old. But we talk a lot.
And now the situation in Poland is very strong: in coronavirus Colombia and Poland are neighboring countries. But, in addition, now the government in my country is very talkative and I have the impression that we are like 30 years ago: they do not accept LGTB I society, abortion is a matter of war, millions of people are in the streets protesting.
Also, there is winter. And it’s not that I’ve gotten used to the climate here. When it’s 38 degrees it bothers me. But being alone in flip-flops and a short dress instead of five kilos of clothes relaxes you. And I like that about Palomino.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.