It’s time for me to go. It’s time for me to say good bye. It’s a sad time!
It doesn’t feel like it’s been almost five months since I first saw the mountains of Colombia and the peaks of Cerro Batero and Gobia guarding the lives of all Quinchienos from above. These five months have been busy with learning, exploring and, in the same time, teaching and sharing experiences. It’s a mutual process. Together with the locals we influenced the life of each other in some ways.
They taught me appreciate more the small things in life, like having a cup of coffee with friends on a Tuesday afternoon; stopping on the street and having time to talk to strangers about cultural differences and similarities; and generally pay more attention to personal relationships instead of being so busy with oneself or with work. In return, I taught them punctuality, time management and efficient work. I think with these I have explained the basic differences in our cultures: the North vs. the South and the West vs. the East. One has a strong sense of community, while the other is way too individual. One focuses on leisure time and joy, and the other is busy getting stressed at work. We think that one is poor and the other is rich. Not that simple.
In the developed world, it’s believed that money buys us time to spend with friends and family, but in the end the sharing part is mostly forgotten and life becomes a race for more money and possessions. On the other hand, people of Quinchia live without much money. Most of them work on the fields, only have one set of cloths and have never left Quinchia. However, they are very close to their families, have time for each other and are not stressed at all.
When we talked about the ‘important things in life’, it turned out that we wanted the life of the other. They wanted to live mine and travel to different countries, get to know other cultures or just be able to do whatever they felt like doing. And I wished to be as close to my family, have as much fun or be generally as positive person as they are. We would have a lot to learn from each other! Instead of fighting and exploiting one another we should focus on the common and appreciate the different. They say that travelling and living in other countries open one’s eyes, and although I do agree with this statement, I would rather keep mines closed and continue dreaming about a world where everyone is valued for who they are and not for what they have.
Thank you Quinchia! Thank you for bringing me back down to earth.
PS: the experience mentioned above is very much recommended to everyone!