Narcos, Netflix’s series, opens with a quote about Magical Realism. The quote goes “Magical Realism is defined as what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe. There is a reason magical realism was born in Colombia”, and they are right.
Colombia, a Latin-American country at the northern tip of South America, is an embodiment of everything South America has to offer. Blessed with a variety of landscapes, food, culture and people, Colombia is slowly opening its doors to tourists. Characterized as a tropical destination, Colombia has so much to offer with its rainforests, mountains, beaches and deserts. There is something for everyone in Colombia, it appeals to foodies, party-goers, avid nature enthusiasts, beach bums and last but not the least, to artists.
One way of exploring Colombia is through its bold artistic expression. Art is at the heart of Colombian life, in the form of graffiti, colorful towns, murals, life-size sculptures.
To understand what art means to the Colombian people, one must understand the history of the country. This land of abundance has been through the grueling wretches of a powerful Narcotic drug dealer, the one who must not be named, Pablo Escobar. Once nicknamed Robin Hood of Colombia, Pablo used to be a drug dealer who earned his riches from the ground up. Pablo helped build homes for the poor, now called Communas. An aspiring politician, Pablo was quickly brought to light for what he was, a drug lord. Many believe it is this turn of events and disappointments, that led Pablo down a path of unfortunate decisions which in turn shaped the history of the country. What followed is innumerable acts of crime including kidnapping, murder and violence, a past the country cannot shake off.
One feature common to every Colombian is that they are humble, fiercely patriotic and have a renewed zest for life; not to mention their love for salsa dancing. This love for life could be interpreted in various ways. One local tells me it is to forget the tumultuous past. Colombian people have been through so much agony, that art is their means of venting out. Another perspective is that Colombian locals don’t know what tomorrow holds. The crime rate in Colombia has gone down drastically but still continues to be a concern. So one local tells me, they enjoy “today” to the fullest!
A freelancer leading a guided tour in Bogota, offers free hugs at the end of each tour. This vivid image stays close to my heart as it is symbolic of most Colombians I met-welcoming, simple, enthusiastic and kind hearted. Indeed, no one knows what tomorrow holds, but we can take home this simple message- simply enjoy today and make life as colorful as you can dare to imagine!