Colombia: Dirt Roads Look Good on You

Not All Third World Countries Should Strive To Emulate The US

For years, the U.S. has tried to tell us that our roads are too small, and our streets too crowded. Our dogs are stray and they need to be on a leash, but we are not them. - Third World Countries

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I'm not sure where to begin, because this is a topic I hold very close to my heart. Not only was I born in Cartagena, but all my childhood memories reside in Colombia. Even as I am typing this, I can't help but tear up.

Last week, I had to watch "The Mission," a movie about the assimilation of the indigenous people of South America. To make matters hit home, it was filmed (partially) in Colombia. Not only did I have to watch this movie, but every scene triggered something in me. What had happened hundreds of years ago, is currently happening. Investors, are the conquistadors of the 21st century, invading land that doesn't belong to them, and destroying the local communities — this kind of mentality is a disease that must be addressed.

(Maria Marrugo)

When I was a little girl, I remember "El Centro," the downtown area, as this magical place. It was where you could go to find the town's sales and most fresh fruit. It was a lively place, weird smells and all. There would be vendors in the streets and all sorts of yelling and talking, to get people to buy their goods. When I was 9 years old, I moved to Naples, Florida with my mom, and the home I had known all my life was going to become my summer stay.

I would come back and visit Cartagena every summer. Around the time I was in high school, I saw a shift. El Centro was no longer dirty, and people no longer lived there. My worse nightmare came true; it was becoming gentrified. They upped the rent, and people that had lived their entire life could no longer afford it. The old houses are now either hotels or mansions, the culture that had shaped my entire being was disappearing right in front of my eyes, and I couldn't do anything. I felt so helpless.

Now, when I go home, I don't feel at home. Our plaza is filled with tourist, people taking selfies and detaching from the moment. Colombia was the place where I could go to unplug from the world, I felt at ease, and that is now taken away from me.

Sometime in March, Savannah Montano posted a picture in Colombia.

The original post was deleted from her Instagram, but the copies remain.

At first, I was happy, but then the reality hit me, no no no! The reason why I am so defensive about Colombia is that it is not like any other place. Colombians are not people that need luxuries, we live by the river and under the sky. We don't like to wear shoes and say good morning to our neighbors every day.

We may not have electricity in every place or running water for that fact. Our streets are not all paved, but happiness is real. We don't have the latest technology, but we care deeply and dearly with each other. Our culture may be hard to understand, and most people looking in could never understand how we could live a life in the jungle. For years, the US has tried to tell us that our roads are too small, and our streets too crowded. Our dogs are astray and they need to be on a leash. But this is not the case.

Where you see a poor child running barefoot, I see a happy kid running as fast as he can to hide and win hide-and-seek. Where you see a man wandering the streets, I see a man that has chosen to live a life not attached to material things. Colombia is true freedom. Freedom from material things and debt. Here, we may not be able to afford a flat screen TV, but our coffee grows on a soil that has witnessed the most glorious wars.

We might be a little too noisy, but we have good intentions. We might judge your look, but we stare because we're curious. Our parties are a little too crazy, and our grandmas a little too judgmental, but our food and fruits will make you understand why. We drink too much, and party too hard, but on Sundays, we go to church and have family dinner.

Girl in village picking flowers without shoes.

I guess the part that is hard for me to witness, is the technology aspect. And the fact that people are coming in and making our home an Insta story. Colombia is the place that makes me forget to look at my phone because no one there gives a shit about that. People look you in the eyes and try to engage at the moment. But the last two years, I've gone home, I've seen more phones and selfies than my own college. It sickens me. You must understand, I am seeing it change. People can't dance anymore without people pulling their phone out.

Playa Blanca is this beautiful white beach island. For 19 years, there was no way of getting there if it wasn't by boat or ferry, so, to say the least, it was a hassle. It took about 18 years to pave the roads and build a bridge, why? Because that island is our jewel. And now that the road is paved it has allowed all kind of tourist to come. It is overcrowded, and the littering has gotten out of hand. The water is not as clear as it once was. People, we are destroying our planet! By coming in and stomping all over our Earth without being mindful of it, we are killing it. My biggest fear is not being able to show my kids my hometown.

I want my kids and grandkids to enjoy what I was so lucky to enjoy. I want their memories to overlap with my childhood memories, and I'm scared it won't happen. For this reason, I know that not all countries are meant to be westernized.

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10 Things I Threw Out AFTER Freshman Year Of College

Guess half the stuff on your packing list doesn't really matter
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I spent the entire summer before my freshman year of college so WORRIED.

I also spent most of my money that summer on miscellaneous dorm stuff. I packed the car when the time finally came to move in, and spent the drive up excited and confused about what the heck was actually going on.

Freshman year came and went, and as I get ready to go back to school in just a few short weeks (!!), I'm starting to realize there's just a whole bunch of crap I just don't need.

After freshman year, I threw out:

1. Half my wardrobe.

I don't really know what I was thinking of owning 13 sweaters and 25 T-shirts in the first place. I wear the same five T-shirts until I magically find a new one that I probably got for free, and I put on jeans maybe four times. One pair is enough.

2. Half my makeup.

Following in the theme of #1, if I put on makeup, it's the same eyeliner-mascara combination as always. Sometimes I spice it up and add lipstick or eyeshadow.

3. My vacuum.

https://secure.img1-ag.wfcdn.com/im/d5ea3c03/resize-h2000-p1-w2000%5Ecompr-r85/3021/30217778/Express+6+Volt+Cordless+Bagless+Handheld+Vacuum.jpg

One, I basically never did it. Two, if I REALLY needed to vacuum, dorms rent out cleaning supplies.

4. Most of my photos from high school.

I didn't throw them ALL away, but most of them won't be making a return to college. Things change, people change, your friends change. And that's okay.

5. Excess school supplies.

Binders are heavy and I am lazy. I surprisingly didn't lose that many pens, so I don't need the fifty pack anymore. I could probably do without the crayons.

6. Cups/Plates/Bowls/Silverware.

Again, I am lazy. I cannot be bothered to wash dishes that often. I'll stick to water bottles and maybe one coffee cup. Paper plates/bowls can always be bought, and plastic silverware can always be stolen from different places on campus.

7. Books.

I love to read, but I really don't understand why I thought I'd have the time to actually do it. I think I read one book all year, and that's just a maybe.

8. A sewing kit.

I don't even know how to sew.

9. Excessive decorations.

It's nice to make your space feel a little more cozy, but not every inch of the wall needs to be covered.

10. Throw pillows.

At night, these cute little pillows just got tossed to the floor, and they'd sit there for days if I didn't make my bed.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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I'm Not The Person I Was In High School And I'm Not Sorry I Changed

I'm sorry, the old me can't come to the phone right now.

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If those who knew me in high school hung out with me now, they probably wouldn't recognize me. If my friends from college hung out with me around two years ago, they probably wouldn't recognize me. It's safe to say I've changed... a lot. I definitely find the change to be for the better and I couldn't be happier with the person I've become

In high school, I would sit at home every night anxiously waiting to leave and go out. Now, honestly, going out is the last thing I want to do any night of the week. While everyone in college is at a fraternity party or at the bars, I prefer to sit at home on the couch, watching Netflix with my boyfriend. That's an ideal night for me and it is exactly the opposite of what I wanted to do a couple of years ago. There's nothing wrong with going out and partying, it's just not what I want to do anymore.

I craved attention in high school. I went to the parties and outings so I could be in Snapchats and photos, just so people would know I was there. I hung out with certain groups of people just so I could say I was "friends" with so-and-so who was so very popular. I wanted to be known and I wanted to be cool.

Now, I couldn't care less. I go to the bars or the parties if I really feel like it or if my friends make me feel bad enough for never going anywhere that I finally decide to show up. It's just not my scene anymore and I no longer worry about missing out.

If you could look back at me during my junior year of high school, you probably would've found me searching for the best-ranked party schools and colleges with the best nearby clubs or bars. Now, you can find me eating snacks on the couch on a Friday night watching the parties through other peoples' Snapchats.

Some may say that I'm boring now, and while I agree that my life is a little less adventurous now than it was in high school, I don't regret the lifestyle changes I've made. I feel happier, I feel like a better person, I feel much more complete. I'm not sorry that I've changed since high school and I'm not sorry that I'm not living the typical "college lifestyle." I don't see anything wrong with that life, it's just not what makes me happy and it's not what I want to do anymore.

I've become a different person since high school and I couldn't be happier about it. I have a lot that's contributed to the change, but my boyfriend definitely was the main factor as he showed me that staying in can be a million times better than a night out. My interests and my social cravings have completely transitioned into that of an 80-year-old grandma, but I don't regret it.

Change doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, it can bring a lot more happiness and comfort. The transition from high school to college is drastic, but you can also use it as an opportunity to transition from one lifestyle to another. I don't regret the lifestyle flip I made and I couldn't be less apologetic about it.

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