I have 2,5 months of traveling ahead of me and I’m planning to make the most of it. I’ve already had a memorable adventure in the Amazon jungle and now it’s time to see the only part of the country I haven’t seen, the coast!
My first stop was a tropical city in the coast, the port where the first Spanish Conquistadors came, the city with the both beautiful and romantic old town.. Cartagena!
The weather in Cartagena was unbearable. That was my first time in tropical climate and I must say the combination of heat and humidity makes you wanna kill yourself and sleeping in a room with 16 more young men with no air-conditioning doesn’t help a lot.
Ahh also tropical cockroaches not only are they huge but also they can fly! Ugghhh!
Actually, this was one of the most bizarre experiences in Cartagena. I spent my first 2 nights there living in a thriving 200+ people youth Christian community I found through CouchSurfing. Couldn’t stop singing YMCA 😛
The community was ran by a Swiss guy named Markus who came to Colombia more than 20 years ago as a missionary. I met a lot of young men and women there, they even shared their food with me, I helped in the kitchen, learned a couple of Spanish Christian songs, talked about life, travels, Greece. Inevitably the conversation was led to God and spirituality in general but that’s something I’m fine with. The community was organizing missionary trips all around the world so these kids had the opportunity to do something meaningful while traveling, for free!
Fuego de Dios, quemame hoy, purificame y lléname otra vez.. a song they were singing in the morning.
I met Santiago, a bright young man who speaks very good English, he is like a coordinator in the community so he organizes a ton of stuff and at the same time studies business in the university. There was another guy from Switzerland that had a very strange behavior. If I had been wearing my “police-goggles” I would have said that he was on drugs. He always seemed that he was in a Nirvana state, he said that a few years ago he found God and changed his life, so we talked a bit about spirituality in general. He had some interesting ideas and at some point he said that he is having a conversation with God! I don’t know if he meant by praying or if he actually believes he speaks to God. We had an interesting conversation and in the end I decided that he was either too high or actually speaking with God. Hmm maybe it could be both. But that would mean that you must be high to find God? Ufff
I met some other guys and we had a very nice conversation about travels and life in general. When I asked one of them how long he has been living in the community he said in Spanish “When they BROUGHT me here I was very young and I had drug problems”! That’s when I realized that a lot of those children were coming from poor families that couldn’t support them, from drug problems or even abusive families. That gives more value to the community. It provides a safe home for them, food and shelter. Furthermore, it didn’t feel like a very strict religious environment. They approach God through playing music, theater or even circus exhibitions. They have certain rules, for example I was asked to always wear a shirt when I was in public areas outside our dorm (there were a lot of girls in the community), which is reasonable. Also, it didn’t feel very strict and it was very nice to see everyone smiling and having a positive attidute towards life.
It made me think the purpose of my life. The purpose of my travels. Is it to help Colombian teenagers with their English or is it completely selfish and self-centered? I like to believe its a combination of both.