Señorita, feel the conga, let me see you move like you come from Colombia
The Barranquilla fútbol stadium holds about 70,000 fans and last night it was full. To get in to the concert, we stood for three hours (!) in a line zig-zagging through the surrounding park, eating arepas rellenas* and people-watching while we waited.
This was a night to be proud to be Colombian. The opening bands played cumbia and vallenato, the fans were decked out in their "100% Colombiano" t-shirts and waving yellow, blue, and red flags, and every other song gave a shout-out to local cities, customs, and people.
Mira, en Barranquilla se baila así, say it!With the buzz of the microphones, the blasting of the speakers, and the shouting of the fans, I couldn't understand the music lyrics very well, so I used the opportunity to watch the crowd, feel the energy, and reflect on what it has meant to me to be here in Colombia, what it means to be leaving soon. I found myself full of the embracing love for this land and these people, grateful to have found a community and a model for life that feeds my soul, knowing that I've been radically transformed in ways I can't imagine or recognize yet. I also felt quite sad, thinking about walking away from a place and an experience that has become so deeply and beautifully engrained in my daily life.
Mira, en Barranquilla se baila así
-Shakira, "My Hips Don't Lie"
It's a mixed blessing, the end of an experience. I am so lucky to have these final moments to reflect on these months, to savor the sights and sounds, to love on my friends, to sort through what it has meant to watch and learn. On the other hand, every conversation, concert, fried plantain chip, and taxi ride through the city seems almost too poignant to handle when viewed through the lens of saying goodbye to Barranquilla.