Setting off from my north London home for the Tube towards Heathrow, my eighth visit to Colombia began as soon as we’d checked in for the first flight to Bogota, the Colombian capital. Since we were jetting off in the nighttime, I wouldn’t have to worry about how to keep myself entertained for ten hours straight. Even so, I was awoken at certain times during the flight to eat some breakfast or watch some films on the screen – one passenger sitting in front of us was even watching the 2016 Jungle Book movie. I kept regular track of the plane’s flightpath towards Bogota to count down the time to landing and pin down its geographical location. After quite a long night of flying, we touched down in Bogota at 4am local time (about 9am in London) for our connecting flight to Pereira later on.
Our flight to Pereira left at 7am local time, and took just over half an hour (to travel by car, it would take nine hours, because of all the mountains in the way!) On landing, I met some of my Colombian family, including my aunts and grandmother Stella, who is now the last surviving grandparent in my extended family, and our 11-year-old black Labrador dog Nico.
For the first few days of our month-long stay in Colombia, we moved all our baggage and things into a new apartment we’d rented out as our holiday home, visiting Stella’s apartment almost daily while we settled in to our own. I started making use of my new art journal, doodling some genderbent Maritime provinces and alternative outfits for Halifax and Dartmouth from the IAmMatthewian Project/Project Canada.
Once we’d had our apartment sufficiently furnished enough to sustain us for the next month or so, we could finally start to explore Colombia’s coffee-growing region in depth. In the town of Santa Rosa (de Cabal), we ascended some breathtaking mountainous landscapes nearing the hot springs and tasted some of the famous chorizo sausages the town has become known for. I even briefly visited my father at his ‘new’ home (even though he’s been living there for ten years now).
For one day, we visited the nearby town of Chinchina, where I temporarily set up shop at my auntie Silvia’s apartment (she is a writer and has had several of her own books published, so I may one day go down her path). I even re-discovered one of my father’s books and found a rather interesting mix of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland in one picture.
We went to Parque Comfamiliar Consota, a huge park just outside Pereira with a zoo, swimming pools, fishing and boating lakes and sports courts, where we saw all sorts of farm animals like pigs, donkeys, horses and chickens. There was also an aviary where pheasants, ducks, geese, lorikeets (small parrots), cockatoos and even pigeons were kept, and an aquarium with lots of tropical fish, including the real-life Dory from the Disney/Pixar films Finding Nemo and Finding Dory. Once we’d toured the farm, we had a good swim in one of the pools, but not before it started raining!
Later on (when it thankfully brightened up a little), we ascended the mountain road up to the small town of Marsella, named for Marseille in France (there’s even a football shirt in the Casa de la Cultura museum which was given to the town by the Colombian ambassador for France). We enjoyed even more vast mountainscapes like we did in Santa Rosa, both on the way up and on the way down, with the added allure of the red sunset.