Posted by: Sarah | June 26, 2008

everytime i hear that song, i go back…

Growing up in a flat world of globalization, travelers of our generation have had to deal with the “perception of Americans abroad” when they travel to other countries. Coming from a culture that arguably has the most direct influence – positive and negative – on the rest of the world, just about all foreigners seem to have formed an opinion. While I’ve never experienced any severe anti-American sentiment, there were definitely times that I felt hostility when I was in Europe.

Colombia was different. At the risk of making a broad generalization, everyone I met was so incredibly warm to Americans. Many had never met someone from the States before and could hardly fathom the idea that someone from the US would actually want to come to their country, a country whose reputation has traditionally been tainted by negative images.

On one particularly memorable bus ride across the country, I caught the attention of a fellow passenger by reading the autobiography of the country most famous author and listening to reggaeton music, acting like traveling from Barranquilla to Bogota was a perfectly normal thing to do – which, by that time, for me, it was. We chatted for awhile, he complimented my Spanish, and I must have given him my contact info, although I hadn’t remembered doing so until I received this email yesterday…

Hola Sarah: 

Yo soy la persona que conociste, cuando viajabas de Barranquilla a Bogota, via terrestre hace como dos años…cuando leias la biografia de Garcia Marquez.

No te habia escrito, porque estaba viviendo en Italia y el papel donde me escribiste tu e-mail se me habia quedado en Colombia, donde me encuentro en la actualidad.

Estoy en Bogota, si vuelves por aqui, escribeme…

Mucha suerte y que que sigas leyendo los libros de Gabo.



(translation: Hi Sarah, I’m the person that you met, when you were traveling from Barranquilla to Bogota, overland, about two years ago… when you were reading the biography of Garcia Marquez. I hadn’t written to you because I was living in Italy, and the paper where you wrote your email was left in Colombia, where I found it now. I’m in Bogota, if you ever return, let me know. Good luck and keep reading Gabo’s [nickname for Garcia Marquez] books.)

For some reason this email touched me immensely – the fact that such a simple conversation almost two years ago left such an impression on someone.



  1. That’s pretty incredible! Although you are a remarkable lady!

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