Late one evening a little over six years ago, I stepped off an airliner at El Dorado Airport into Colombia for the first time and soon after into the crisp night air of Bogota. I will never forget the feeling of excitement I had that night as we approached to land seeing the sprawling city lights and the many flower greenhouses aglow below on the landscape. It was the beginning of a passion I now have for Colombia which has grown from my experiences on that trip and subsequent trips.
To those who have never been to Colombia, it is a unique and stunningly beautiful country with some of the most varied landscapes in the world. The culture is very rich and the people are some of the most kind I have ever met. I could easily say that the culture and people are very similar in some ways to my native State of North Carolina.
My passion for Colombia and my experiences there are something I have spent many hours sharing with fellow Americans in hopes I could present an image of Colombia most of them have never known and by the same measure, change the negative mind set most of my fellow countrymen have about the country. In large part, my efforts have been successful in small scale but I am gratefully happy to have changed the minds of those I have.
I had long heard all the worst stories about Colombia as most outside the country have. I can recall nearly every negative news story and fictitious Hollywood movie I ever saw that had an overwhelmingly negative slant towards Colombia and I cannot recall a single positive story about Colombia in our news during the 1970’s, 80’s, or 90’s. With such, it is not hard understand why the negative stigma exists.
Understandably, many of my family members and friends felt apprehensive about my plans to travel there even though I assured them all that Colombia was much safer than it had once been and that I stood a greater chance of being a victim of crime within my own home city. Truth is, there is no country without problems, none without crime or violence and we all wish we could rest such problems from our respective countries.
In my own experience and time shared with many Colombians, they are no exception. They are a very respectable people who have weathered many years of the painful realities of civil war, drug trafficking, and violence. They all yearn for peace, stability, and prosperity in their homeland and amongst themselves like all good people in the world do.
I feel their humanity and perseverance speaks volumes of their true and good character and I feel very strongly that the negative stigma Colombia and its people have suffered is both unfair and unjust. The old adage of “Not judging a book by it’s cover” certainly rings true in this case.
I believe that in the future the people of Colombia will achieve their long time dream of peace and prosperity. It is my sincere hope that will come to pass in the near future and that the rest of the world will stand and recognize Colombia and its people for the good they truly represent amongst us all.