How I ended up living in a city called Cúcuta

by - December 10, 2019

Can you imagine just leaving home and moving from country to country, culture to culture? 

How exactly would you do that? 

What exactly are the benefits?
girl standing in front of Tocancipá Cudinamarca
Tocancipá Cudinamarca
My story starts like this...

I went from Jamaica to Colombia.

Honestly, I can't remember if I was hesitant or not. I knew I had a goal in mind and I was determined to follow my dreams.

I decided that I wanted to continue to progress in my language acquisition journey.  In order to do that I needed to immerse myself completely in the language and culture and what better way to do that than to get a job in a country where the language is spoken?

So, I did just that.

I had been studying Spanish and theatre at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica when I was offered the opportunity to move to Colombia and teach English. I graciously accepted.

Despite the stigma attached to teaching, you realise sooner rather than later that teaching isn't the worst job as many people seem to think and even more with the right set of circumstances you become a world traveller faster than you can count ABC…

Wait no… I think I'm supposed to say 1,2,3...

My brain must still be on holiday. It happens sometimes since you generally have more breaks than the average person that works from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or longer in some cases.
girl standing in front of statue
Santander statue in Cúcuta 
girl sitting in Pamplona
Danielle in Pamplona
I lived in Cúcuta, a small city right by the Venezuelan border. I had never been anywhere that was as hot as there but I was simply astonished when I found out that just an hour away in a cute little town called Pamplona, I needed to wear a jacket as it was cold.

Being close to the border I encountered some Venezuelans who had come over to Colombia in search of food, clothes, lodging and finances. It wasn't very difficult to understand their troubles as we occasionally see the catacylsm of their country in the media but I couldn't desist from feeling sad nonetheless at the simple thought of their sufferation. 

One day, I opened my door after hearing a knock and in front of me stood a man who politely ask if I could offer him anything. He told me about his situation and after a little while asked me if he could have the yoghurt which I was eating. I wish I could have done more to help him but I offered him a fresh yoghurt from the fridge and a bag of other things I found in the kitchen without hesitating. This left me feeling distressed that my daily pleasures which I don't think twice about are the desires and necessities of others who don't have access to them. 

On the other hand, my fondest memory of my time in Colombia was most definitely the trip that I took to Medellín. I am supposed to tell you in English terms about my experience but I regret to inform you that I cannot transcribe and transfer how much fun I had in this city.
people smiling in selfie
Travel group in Colombia
I travelled in a small group with friends. We stayed at the Ivy Hostel which I recommend 100%. It deserves a 10 on the scale of 1 to 10 and as one of the benefits of staying in a hostel, I met a whole lot of other travellers from all around the world.

I spent this time exploring Medellín with a group of awesome people including: Egytians, Germans, Swiss, Canadians, Americans and Jamaicans.

The highlight tourist attraction of the trip was without a doubt the grave of Pablo Escobar and the house wherein he was killed. Escobar was a well-known Colombian drug lord, narcoterrorist and believe it or not, a politician. Thanks to him the Medellín Cartel was founded and cocaine trade to the United States monopolised in the 1980's and 1990's.
Pablo Escobar's Grave
Pablo Escobar's grave
Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on who is reading), he was killed in December 1993 in a shootout in Los Olivios, a middle class neighbourhood by Colombian national police. He was assumingly hiding out after his escape from the 'luxurious' La Catedral prison and being on the run for 16 months.

We also visited Comuna 13, a famous but volatile graffitti neighbourhood in Colombia and to top it all off, we climbed to the top of the huge rock at Guatape.
wall of graffiti
Comuna 13
Though Medellín was an incomparable bucket list adventure and experience, I also had fun in Cúcuta. I admit that I am not very keen on going to the nightclubs, dancing in Colombia was one of my favourite activities.

Food on the other hand in my opinion wasn't as good as the food in the Caribbean which I was accustomed to but I really enjoyed the beans, soups and beer in the city.

people smiling in selfie
Danielle and friends
friends in a restaurant
Colombian restaurant
I hope that you too can visit Cúcuta or Medellín or even Pamplona in the near future because you are guaranteed a good time, great culture, different types of foods, lasting friendships and unforgettable memories even if you aren't a teacher. ;-)

Besos y abrazos
- Danielle

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