I am really happy to be back in Colombia! It was a wonderful trip back to the States and great to see friends and family. AND it helped me appreciate my life here in Colombia so much more. I am not just talking about the domestic help (although I do appreciate that!). I am talking about the whole package – the adventure, the chaos, the relaxed attitude, the slower pace of life, the very friendly and polite people, the way I can just exhale here.
Let me tell you about our arrival. It actually started at the ticket counter for COPA airlines (Central American Airlines) in Chicago. The people were super friendly. When they saw that I was traveling alone with three children, they went out of their way to be helpful. The Latin appreciation of mothers and children was clearly at work. Everybody was smiling and making small talk with Saige, our two year old. I felt myself relax.
When we landed in Bogota, we quickly went through immigration, thanks to a special line reserved for the elderly, pregnant women, and those traveling with small children. Now that’s family values! The immigration folks were super polite and friendly and the customs folks wisked us right through when they saw the girls. The man who was helping us with our bags insisted on waiting outside with us for fifteen minutes until our car pulled up. I told him repeatedly that I didn’t want to hold him up, but he replied that he wanted to be there in case it rained and we needed to move the bags. “Plus, this gives me a chance to relax,” he said. I smiled broadly and exhaled deeply. I didn’t even realize how much stress I had picked up on my journey.
The best part of our arrival though was that we exited the airport to the sounds of a lively band playing. Even the police officers with huge machine guns were tapping their feet and clapping their hands. Apparently somebody was getting a welcome reception, complete with colorful “Bienvenido” signs and a band. I laughed and gave the band a big thumbs up at which point the band leader danced over to us and invited me to dance with him. What a lovely way to enter a country! (I couldn’t help but compare it with our arrival in Newark.) I don’t know how it happened, but over the past 15 months, Colombia has become home and I am so happy to be back!