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She says that she’s not a blogger but her Colombia travel blog (Colombia de una) is the most read about the subject in Spanish. She says she’s not a blogger but her posts are shared, congratulated, liked (join in the fun and give her a “Like” on her fanpage) and Tweeted by hundreds of people every day. She says she’s not a blogger but she has an energy and enviable willingness to post her arrticles with a frequency worthy of the biggest blogstars, and without losing even a drop of her charisma or style.
This is Toya Viudes, who shares with us, the See Colombia Bloggers, a passion for this fantastic country that we continue to rediscover post by post.
Having shared blogtrips, coffees and many chinwags, today we decided, at last, to do a blog crossover: the most read travel blog about Colombia in Spanish interviews the most read travel blog about Colombia in English and vice-versa. Right now we present to you 5 questions for Toya Viudes by JL from See Colombia Travel (and from Toya’s blog and the Facebook of Colombia de Una you can read the other half of the interview: 5 Questions for JL by Toya Viudes of Colombia de Una). (In Spanish)
Hi Toya, it’s a pleasure to be able to make this interview exchange today, after so much time planning it… Let’s start with a very basic question for our readers that still don’t know you. Tell us how you ended up in Colombia and what it has meant for you?
It all started with my good friend from Spain, Dani Meroño (from the blog El Cocinero Viajero), who married a Colombian and came to live here in Bogotá.
That was my first contact with Colombia, I knew little about the country before. I came to visit him one time, and though I know it’s a cliche, I fell in love with the people… That first time they invited me to someone’s house I didn’t know, to of someone else’s place, to sleep in the house of someone-or-other, and I don’t think that happens in many other parts of the world. I’d been charmed.
I came a couple more times and Dani insisted each time, “you have to come to Colombia, you have to come to Colombia”, and I just responded by asking what was I going to do here? Then, one day I finally took the decision. I called Dani and told him, “Dani, I’m going to Bogotá. Without a return flight.”
I left my job as a journalist in a cultural foundation in Murcia, rented my house, put a few things in my bag and I came to search for my new life and discovered that it’s never too late to start again and reinvent yourself.
Of course in the beginning it wasn’t easy. I arrived and it didn’t stop raining for 5 days, nevermind the buses, the traffic… “What have I done?”, I thought. I come from a small city where I would go to work on a bike, so everything seemed super chaotic to me. But, on the 5th day of rain, the sun came out, I saw the mountains and I said to myself: “I’ve come where I was meant to arrive.” Here I’ve done so many things I never thought I’d do. In Murcia I would have carried on with my “easy” life, but everything that I have now I wouldn’t have had, and for that I always say fortune favours the brave.
Many times you’ve said to me that you know nothing about blogging, however you are one of the most successful bloggers in Colombia, how do you explain that?
It’s just like, I don’t even believe that. It seems silly, but I just keep writing for my mum, my nieces, nephews and my friends from Spain. I see the statistics and I don’t believe it, I say to myself, “why are these people interested in what I write?”
The truth is I carry on without any idea. I’m just basic-basic-basic. Sometimes I meet with you guys that know so much about it all and you say terms to me and stuff about the web and I say to myself, “what is that?!”. But now I’ve arrived at a point in when I have to work hard, I have to get more out of my work, to finish saying “I know nothing” and take advantage of the tools that exist for what I do.
This question you’re going to like. What do Jet chocolate bars mean to you?
Oh boy! Jet chocolates were what made my blog become known. Everyone had always told me about these so one day I ate one and found one of those stickers. I had no idea they were such a national symbol, like the sombrero vueltiao or ajiaco; so I got investigating about the sticker collection and the history of the chocolate. I had the great fortune of getting my entry re-posted by a huge Facebook group and that day, in my blog, I had 17,000 visitors. I’m never going to forget. I went from having around 300 visitors to 17,000 , I couldn’t believe it, I saw second by second how they grew to thousands of visitors. I’ve never gone back to having that number, it was great. If you asked me which was one of the best days of my life I would truthfully answer, “the day that my blog reached 17,000 hits.” Moreover I received comments from all around the world telling me of their experiences with the stickers, how they collected with their grand kids and everything that Jet chocolate meant to them. So, I’ll never forget Jet chocolate.
There are people that say your posts are overly positive, that Colombia can’t be all roses… What do you say to that?
It’s true, people have said many times that I invent what I write. But I tell them that it’s really the country I’m getting to know, there’s nothing in my blog that I’ve ever just invented.
I have absolute freedom and I don’t depend on anyone. Nobody sponsors me, the blog is my personal diary and everything that I write is the truth. I have the fortune to have discovered this amazing country and yes, from the first moment my intention was to speak of the positive, happy, fun and beautiful things about the country. I know perfectly well that in Colombia not everything is perfect, but it doesn’t interest me to write these things in my blog because I think that there are enough mediums already out there that tell these type of stories.
The majority of these comments come from Europeans. My Colombian readers, many of whom live abroad, appreciate that I don’t stop telling people the interesting stuff about Colombia, and that people should pack up and come, because for years now it has been fighting against the horrendous image outside the country. It’s worth a lot that someone from outside the country talks in this way about Colombia.
Finally, what plans do you have for you blog in the immediate future?
Well you see, I intent to continue being so independent like up to now, to not change the essence of my blog, and that it will continue to be the diary where I write the truth about what I think and feel, but also like I told you, I am conscious of the necessity to begin to use other tools that allow me to get more people interested and take advantage more fully of my work. So I have to prepare myself for that.
And with that answer we give a huge thanks to Toya for the conversation and we wait with anticipation for all the new stuff on her blog.