When I first decided to move back to Colombia – I had previously lived here for a year in 2011 – I knew that I would be coming back to this wonderful country regardless of whether I found a job right away. I planned to fly out and find a job when I arrived; I was that desperate to be back in a country that had so captured my imagination. One year hadn’t been enough: there was so much more to see and do and experience. Imagine my joy when I casually sent an email to JL at the Colombia Travel Blog, for whom I had worked as an intern during that first year, asking if they needed anyone to write some articles, and he responded asking if I would be interested in taking over as their new editor. This was in January of 2014.
It’s now August of 2017 and I am preparing, after more than three years at the helm of this blog, to say goodbye. It’s not been an easy decision to make by any stretch of the imagination: I have dedicated a reasonable percentage of my life to running this blog; poured my passion for Colombia into every article, photograph, and social media post. And I have to thank the blog itself and all of our fantastic readers: it has been your thirst for information about Colombia, your passion for this country, which has kept me travelling and has spurred me on to try and discover as much of the place as I possibly can. I’m leaving the blog with a heavy heart.
When I returned to Colombia I wrote an article about why I was so excited to be back. In it I wrote that there were so many places I still wanted to explore – I talked about Cali, San Gil, Jardin, and several more places that I was keen to visit. Over three years later and I have surpassed my expectations and then some! Guainia, Guaviare, Caqueta, Putumayo, Vichada, and so many more departments have grabbed my attention, captured my heart. I have visited 31 of this remarkably diverse country’s 32 regions, and that final one (Vaupes, since you ask) is surely coming soon! I honestly never imagined I would have visited so much of the country, but to have had the chance to do so has been one of the great privileges of my life.
And now it’s time for a new adventure: I don’t know what it will be, but it definitely involves Colombia still (you can’t get rid of me that easily!). I plan to take some time to explore more of the country at my own pace, watching birds (still a couple of hundred species to go before the dream 1000), discovering more off-the-beaten-track wonders, and researching some ideas I have for books about travelling here. It says something about how strongly Colombia has captured my imagination that all I want to do is keep exploring it, in spite having travelled the length and breadth of it more times than I care to remember. I just can’t imagine seeing a new species of bird anywhere but Colombia; can’t imagine not ordering a tinto from a roadside stall, or a cold Poker in a little tienda, vallenato blaring from a battered old jukebox. It makes me very happy to know that, through this blog, I might have helped other people discover this country, and maybe fall in love too.
I’ll still be writing about Colombia, it’s a bug I will never cure now! I won’t be writing in the same way; it won’t be my job as such. But you can follow my personal Facebook and Instagram pages for photos and little stories from the back of beyond. And hopefully one day I will be announcing a book on those pages, and all of the emotion and excitement I felt when I spoke to JL back in 2014 will have come fantastically full-circle. When I picked up a copy of 100 Years of Solitude at my local Waterstones when I was about 13 because I loved the title and the cover, I could never have imagined that I would be preparing to write my own book about Colombia 17 years later.
So all that remains is to say one of the biggest thank-yous of my life to JL, Marcela, and Maria del Mar for welcoming me so completely into their family here at the blog, and here in Colombia. It’s probably been the defining experience of my life so far. Thank you. And another big thank you to everyone who has ever read this blog: you fired my passion to keep exploring, to keep jumping on buses and taking off for a new place on a whim. Without you, I wouldn’t know Colombia. I would have seen some of it sure, but it wouldn’t be like this. I wouldn’t have seen blood-red cave paintings in the jungle, or have soared above the Chicamocha Canyon supported by nothing but canvas and the wind; I would never have swum with pink river dolphins as the sun set on the Orinoco, or watched macaws in the jungles of Caguan. This blog not only gave me the chance to explore this incredible country, it gave me the drive and passion to do so. I wanted to go there and then show you. Wherever I end up, I will forever be an ambassador for Colombia. No tourist board has ever hit a home run more than Colombia’s when they dreamt up “The only risk is wanting to stay.” So long, and thanks for all the fish (what did you expect, haven’t we established that I’m a huge nerd by now?!)…
one last time, Chris