Thursday, March 14, 2013

Colombia photo diary

Quaint streets of Pueblito Paisa
Jam made from Uchuvas, one of Colombia's most popular (and delicious) fruits
Fresh fruit stands everywhere you turn
The cutest couple, playing traditional music
Colombian sodas and an assortment of fresh juices... I sampled one of each
Tropical and exotic flowers are one of the country's biggest exports
Colorful buildings lining the streets
Fresh juice at every meal
More beautiful flowers
More colorful buildings
Images of the Virgin Mary are used around the city as a way of promoting peace
Freshly peeled mango, a common street snack
A carnival show at Centro de Desarrollo Cultural, one of the city's free cultural centers
Breathtaking view from atop the Parque Biblioteca España
Clusters of leather souvenirs
Sopa de mondongo, insanely good local fave
Typical street jewelry
Array of exotic fruits awaiting us at the airport
Pretty view from one of the many hills
Local musician filming his music video on the street
Each letter was originally scattered across the city, inviting locals to illustrate their love for Medellín
Firebreather at the cultural fair
All images by me © Dream & Dress 

Recently, I was invited to visit Medellín, Colombia to attend their annual Colombiatex show and explore the city.  Aside from the colorful surroundings and gorgeous textiles on display at the shows, what I found most inspiring was the commitment and passion the Colombians have for their country and its betterment.

In less than ten years, Medellín has gone from being named the most dangerous city in the world (the world!) to being a safe, beautiful tourist destination in an economic uprise, soon to be one of the top exporters of textiles in the world.  And while changes in the government have definitely played a large role, it is the people who have really driven this change. 

I often hear or read rants from people complaining about what our president has or hasn't done or what is wrong with our country.  But I wonder how many of those complaining have actually done something themselves to better our country or society?  Colombians don't complain about their president or their fellow citizens, or blame their problems on the "bottom feeders" (as right-wings like to label those in poverty).  Instead, they have sought change from within, bettering themselves and offering acceptance and compassion to those in need, understanding that they are all in this together, fighting for the same goal.

At one of the free library and cultural centers we visited, the tour guide explained how the area we were in was previously a "garbage community" (similar to a landfill, but with inhabitants who live off the trash) that just a few years ago was so dangerous, you were not likely to leave after entering.  Officials were initially hesitant about opening a library there, fearful it would be misused and none of the books would be returned.  But the community fought for it, believing in their collective desire for change, and after the first year the library had a 98% return rate and the cultural center is booming with activity (as seen in the carnival images above).

I could go on and on with similarly inspiring stories from this trip, but the most important lesson I learned and hope to share, is that positivity and belief in yourself and your community can go a long way—far longer than any facebook rant.  Volunteer, start a petition, donate to a charity, join a movement, hold the door for someone...or don't do any of these things, but just know that—as Colombians have proven—what you put into this world is directly proportional to what you get out of it.


Thank you Colombiatex, inexmoda and Proexport Colombia for this amazing trip.  I am in awe of your country's spirit and strength!

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