Zapatoca

There are times in your life that contain magic, and words cannot transfer the sentiment or heart felt experience to another. This was my experience of Zapatoca. From the moment the transport arrived I knew this trip held something special.

Two artists one assistant, one driver, one old lady, and loads of packages squeezed into a sedan filling the interior, the roof top and the boot. Over the following two hours we left the city limits and embarked on some spectacular mountain passes. I love the way the scenery changes, in particular the dogs. From the pampered pooch in the city, to the household pet who is out on the suburban streets, to the street dog surviving by its whits in the countryside. For me they serve as an allegory for the wealth, density and access of a region.

Bucaramanga is in the Santander province of Colombia. According to Wikipedia it is the fifth largest economy in Colombia, and has the sixth largest population in country, (1,212,656 people in the metro area alone). It has the nickname of the ‘City of Parks” it is very green and it does not feel like a rushed or busy city. On this day we travelled to Zapatoca, which is to the northeast and at altitude.

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It was built in the early 17th century by the Spanish conquistadors. It remains preserved by strict building regulations. More so, it remains preserved by the residents pride and tenderness. There are living flowerpots on the external walls of the houses and shops. The town is clean beyond belief. The church is spectacular with carved wooden doors and holding a position of pride at the top of a hill and in front of the central square where everyone congregates.

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Most striking is the warmth of the people. All the people. I have to say that this show was performed to some of the sweetest teenagers I have ever met. Ofcourse some came to see the curious foreigner, to help, to be close, others hung back. When it came to participating, sharing and enjoying stories all were in it together – teens, parents and children. They stayed back to talk, to touch the puppets and to spend time. They laughed, hugged and joked freely and made me feel relaxed and happy to be here. At the end of my time here my only thought was; “This is a place I could live.”

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There are numerous little towns in this world and I feel privileged to have visited this one as a storyteller, to be received with warmth and to be continuing my adventures.

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