Colombia: October, 2015
Anyone who has gone on an epic journey through a foreign country knows that when you return home, sit down, and think about what to say about it, you hear yourself laughing in your head.
It's laughable to convey such a thing, like an alien abduction or an out of body experience. It seems to be made up of millions of vessels of emotion. These individual experiences form a web, an organism that comes to life like a human popping up out of a sidewalk.
Explaining it is like standing next to that human and explaining to someone what they are and how they happened.
Luckily, there is photography.
But, that is only the milk film. There is an entire glass below it. I was listening to an interview of a traveler and writer I admire. His name is Jedidiah Jenkins. He rode his bike from Oregon to Patagonia and used his Instagram as a kind of blog. He filled it with substantial chunks of deeply-crafted and touching contemplations. In the interview, he talks about what he discovered about his travel writing as he traveled. He found that what stays with him about these physical interactions aren't the physical details. He didn't remember the names of streets or cafes or when he did what. He developed this thing called "idea memory". The ideas, the contemplations, the veracity of a thought developing, these things that formed were what stuck with him. Riding through an elaborate farming community was remembered for the idea it triggered on an individual's responsibility and work ethic, not for it's majestic landscapes.
When I heard him say this, my eyes lit up and I knew I was the same way. For me, these scenes that I absorb are food for my brain. Traveling isn't good just because I want to see stuff. It's not what I'm seeing that leaves me in awe of humanity and quietly humbled. It's what they trigger in my brain, the ideas and thoughts that become, like raging waves, though my person.
My eyes saw more than I will ever be able to list or describe or draw. The pale face of the woman playing her tin instrument - they way she never looked up. The man carrying a 40 lb sack of bottles through the dark park plaza, his mournful song heard after he disappeared. The cathedral I snuck into, where I offered up prayers and tears of thanks. There were so many wists of images that run past your window in a taxi, so many people you catch these private glimpses of and think, "I came all the way here, just to share this moment with you". I felt overwhelmed with gratitude and hunger and the same time. I will cradle these things in my heart like tiny flowers.
So, I offer up these images to you. My heart is full. I am so deeply in love with Colombia. My body aches for the music of the streets,
and especially, the arepas (pictured below on my lap and linked here).