Kathrin’s second home on the other side of the world
“After my 2-month travel period, I wanted to visit my project and the people there again. It was nice to meet the children again. They all still knew me and welcomed me with open arms. At that moment, I realized that I had found a new home on the other side of the world.”
Kathrin traveled to Colombia with WanderWorld Travel to support our children’s aid project on the island of Tierra Bomba for four months. In this report she talks about her unforgettable time on site, her experiences with the children, the experiences in the project and her free time.
MY MOTIVATION TO TRAVEL TO THE OTHER END OF THE WORLD
After graduating from high school, I wanted to take a year off between school and university. Since we had talked a lot about Latin America in Spanish class, I was very taken with the idea of going there. Even though it might sound a bit strange at this point, I was relatively spoiled in Germany and could always have everything I wanted. For me, it was therefore time to get to know life from a different perspective, to change my view of things.
I booked my trip a year in advance. Through WanderWorld, the preparation time was made a lot easier, as they took care of flights and insurance, for example. Personally, I prepared by reading up on the country and its people. The most exciting thing was buying the backpack, because this was a moment when I realized that I was about to leave. Nevertheless, I was still a bit scared and had a lot of respect before the trip itself. But that is quite normal when you fly to the other side of the world.
I flew to Colombia on a Friday together with 8 other participants from WanderWorld. So one was not alone from the beginning. Nevertheless, I had to fight especially on the first day with homesickness. But I was also very enthusiastic about Cartagena and Colombia. On the introduction day we got a city tour through Cartagena, which was rounded off with a traditional lunch. On Monday, we went to Tierra Bomba to the project with three other volunteers. There we were shown our accommodation and the project. We were also able to meet another volunteer from France right there. She explained everything important to us during the first week and we could ask her all questions about the project. Also, the homesickness became less from day to day and after a week I felt completely comfortable.
A NORMAL DAY IN THE PROJECT
In the project, we had a 1.5-hour workshop with the children every day. The workshops were, for example, English, technology or art lessons. Special care was always taken to ensure that the topic was sustainable. In art class, for example, we often worked with recycled materials. Afterwards, the children could always play with us. Otherwise, the children were always around us, for example, to do homework or just to spend time with us. On weekends, we went surfing with the kids. There were also many extra activities, such as a beach clean-up, where we cleaned up the beach together with other volunteers. In the evenings we often watched the sunset, as well as cooked together. This was always a lot of fun for me, as it created a completely different bond with the children. I was also able to improve my own cooking skills. These were almost non-existent in Germany. The children were happy to teach us and showed us traditional dishes, such as the preparation of the so-called patacones (fried slices of plantain). We also had a very good relationship with the project leader and were always well supported. Thus, one felt well taken care of.
At Tierra Bomba, each volunteer had his own small room. It consisted of a bed, a small table, and a bathroom. Of course, the accommodation was much smaller and simpler than what I was used to in Germany. Nevertheless, it was nice to live like that and you felt comfortable from the beginning, because the accommodation and the closeness to the other participants gave you a homey impression. Even the fact that there was only cold shower water didn’t bother me because it was usually around 30 degrees. In addition to the rooms, we had a relaxation area with hammocks, a communal kitchen, and an outdoor dining area. Also, we lived in the middle of the island, so we were surrounded by the locals. Because of the other volunteers and the kids, it was never boring and there was always something going on.
MY FREE TIME
I almost always spent my free time with the other volunteers. Often we went to the beach, where sometimes children accompanied us.
On the weekends, we often went to Cartagena. There we went partying or took a closer look at the city. I also had the opportunity to travel to Santa Marta once and see the Tayrona National Park. Another great trip was to the Islas del Rosario. While there, we were able to go snorkeling, which was definitely an unforgettable experience. Often we just spent our free time in our accommodation on Tierra Bomba. There we could lie in the hammock for hours and talk with the other volunteers. Writing a travel diary together or playing cards was also almost always integrated into the daily routine.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE CULTURE
The culture in Colombia differs in every respect from the German culture. People are much more open and talkative, which is why you feel very welcome there. In addition, everyone is helpful and generous. I was particularly fascinated when, during my second week at the project, one of the children came by to share her food with us. At that time, she didn’t really know us yet, but she had already trusted us. You quickly developed a bond with the children. In general, it is very easy to meet new people in Colombia because you always meet new people everywhere who are interested in you or want to share stories and tales about the country and the culture.
MY MOST BEAUTIFUL MOMENT
There were many beautiful moments, but my most beautiful moment was at the very end of my trip. Since my return flight was from Cartagena, I wanted to visit Tierra Bomba and the people there again after my 2-month travel period. It was nice to meet the children again. They also all still knew me and welcomed me with open arms. At that moment I realized that I had found a new home on the other side of the world. That was a wonderful conclusion to the whole time and I am very glad that I made this last stopover.
MY FAVORITE PLACE
During my travel time I was able to visit many beautiful places in Colombia. The country is unique and has a lot to offer from sea to mountains, waterfalls and big cities. However, I was most fascinated by the big city of Medellín. Once it was the most dangerous city in Colombia, today it is the most modern city. Especially interesting there are the “Metrocable”, the cable car that is used as a streetcar for the inhabitants of the outskirts and as a tourist attraction. I felt at home in Medellín from the very beginning and could even imagine living there for a longer time in the future.
MY TIP FOR FUTURE TRAVELERS
I would recommend a stay abroad in Latin America to everyone. You get to know many new people and leave your comfort zone. Latin America is very diverse, open and just special and unique. My stay in Colombia has made me curious about the other countries that this continent has in store. I can’t wait to discover more of Latin America, plus I want to return to Tierra Bomba someday.