Feb 04

From California to Colombia – A Family Journey of Discovery

Carolina Rioja Lobito travels to Colombia to uncover her family history



In May 2012, I started working on a documentary film project entitled A Journey to Colombia. Through the film, I want to give the audience an insight into my search to understand my identity, family history and Colombian heritage. The goal of the documentary is to educate the audience about the beauty of Colombia and the Colombian people while contradicting Hollywood stereotypes by displaying the country’s diverse culture, economic advances and the resilience of the people.


For the last year and a half, through social media, I’ve met so many wonderful people around the world from Scotland to California, from Canada to Colombia, who are supporting the film. Now with the help of See Colombia Travel, on this blog, I would like to share not only my journey but also the stories of the amazing people I’ve met during this experience. We all have a passion, a love, a reason for going to Colombia. I hope that you find these stories inspirational enough to share yours or to make your own travel plans to Colombia.


In early March 2013, I received a message from Carolina Rioja Lobito who stumbled across one of the YouTube videos I made for my documentary. She mentioned that she was researching for what would be her second trip to Colombia this past summer with her family. On this trip she was taking her children so they could see where their grandparents grew up and how they lived.


Carolina and her family in front of a Botero statue
Carolina and her family in front of a Botero statue


Growing up in Southern California, where few people knew the difference between Mexico and the other Latin countries, Carolina made it her mission to educate her friends and especially her children. “The kids are ready and old enough, I’ve taught them all I can teach them – the music, dancing Salsa and Cumbia, and the food. Now they need to see it for themselves and put it all together”.

This is her story.


My Amazing Journey to Colombia – Carolina Rioja Lobito



“This trip was a journey back to the homeland where my parents grew up. The last time I was here, I was three years old. Even though I was born in the States, I wanted my children to see where their grandparents were raised, to embrace their Colombian heritage, and appreciate the music, culture, history and food. And, well, they loved it! Mission accomplished!

“We visited Bogotá, Cartagena, and Medellín, each of which was unique and special in its own way. We also visited the town of La Calera, where my grandparents were born. Before my trip, everyone warned me how dangerous this country was but according to my cousins in Colombia, that was pure propaganda. They were right! I felt very safe throughout my entire trip. Regardless of the fact that we definitely looked like foreigners, everyone was very sweet and kind to us. We saw a beautiful country and wonderful people who are so proud to call Colombia their home.


Carolina Rioja Lobito and her family take a Colombian vacation to discover their roots
Not a bad view, eh?


Medellín was my favorite city of all three. In many ways it’s similar to Southern California and is super clean. And, as the locals will be all too happy to point out, it has the perfect climate! Another thing that I was pleasantly surprised by was the Sunday ‘ciclovia’ in Bogotá and Medellín, where many of the main roads are cut off to traffic, allowing people to skate, cycle, jog, take the dog for a walk or simply have a relaxed stroll. Bring your work out clothes so you can join in the fun. Here’s a look at Bogota’s ciclovia:





“Our journey to Colombia was one we’ll never forget. The whole family loved discovering our Colombian roots and we would recommend that everyone visits Colombia!”


Safe travels and viva Colombia!



2 thoughts on “From California to Colombia – A Family Journey of Discovery

  1. Ruthie Turner on

    Hi Luis,

    Hola como estas? I stopped over to check out your blog, I have to say that I enjoyed reading your documentary website!! I am Puerto Rican and have always wanted to explore and travel to Colombia. My goal is to travel to Spanish countries and indulge and learn the culture and what it offers.

    I appreciate the connection on SM!! So excited to be found your website and blog!

    Ruthie (aka Ruthie’s Routes)


      Luis Eduardo Villamizar on

      Hola Ruthie,
      I’m doing well, Thank you so much for checking out my blog and the film website, I really appreciate all your support! When you decide to travel to Cololombia check out See Colombia Travels packages for tours of the country.


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