Pascal’s adventure in Colombia
“I was particularly impressed by Colombian cuisine. I can’t get all the delicious things out of my head. The food is so fresh, so varied and so different. Empanadas and fresh mango juice for breakfast – an absolute dream.”
Our participant Pascal was looking for adventure and found it in a small paradisiacal place on the Caribbean coast of Colombia: in Palomino. There he participated in the Hostel Experience program and spent an unforgettable time, with a new language, many new impressions and new friends. Today he tells us personally about his time at the Hostel Experience in Palomino, Colombia.
My first days in colombia
It took me a few days to get rid of the jet lag and the little culture shock and my adventure really started. The first days I spent with the contact José in Cartagena and had a very nice time before it finally went to the hostel. He showed me around the city and we went out to eat together. Colombia is a different world. No matter how long you study the culture and conditions beforehand, on the ground you are overwhelmed by this country. It was great fun to get to know the many facets of “de la vida colombiana” bit by bit.
My daily routine
The hostel where I worked is located in Palomino, a magical little village right by the sea. My main task was the hostel bar, which was great fun and where you get to know other people very quickly. But I also helped out in other areas of responsibility and was able to gain a lot of different experiences. The day was divided into different shifts, so that everyone had time off at different times and could enjoy the surroundings. From the accommodation, where I lived with my colleagues, to the hostel it is only a few minutes walk. But also outside of work I spent a lot of time in the hostel, for example to eat, but also just to be with people.
My free time
I had two days off every week, and even on work days there is plenty of time for leisure. I often did things with my new friends and acquaintances. We went on excursions to the neighboring villages, went swimming at the river or in the sea and enjoyed the fantastic weather. Or we drove to Santa Marta, about two hours away. This is very easy and cheap by bus. There is a lot to discover here and you can pass the time wonderfully.
But also in the hostel itself I spent a lot of free time outside of working hours, because that was always fun. I chatted with the hostel guests, got to know many new faces and stories, played with the dogs and cats and relaxed in the hostel pool. There is something for everyone in Palomino – it never gets boring. In the evening, we enjoyed going out again and eating a bunch of fantastic empanadas. Or just relax a bit at the volunteers’ house and chat all night. The time in Palomino flew by for me.
This is how I experienced Colombian culture
I love everything about Latin America. The cultures, the nature, the people and animals, the food, the language, the diversity and the good mood. Admittedly, I had a bit of a culture shock during my first few days in Colombia, but it quickly dissipated. Colombian culture is simply infectious, so open and warm. Music comes from everywhere, people dance and radiate good humor. I was thrilled that the Colombians seemed so much more cheerful than the Germans, since some of them live in somewhat simpler circumstances. Simply fascinating! The best thing was that I could always share my impressions with my local friends, we exchanged ideas, inspired and motivated each other.
From front to back, I was thrilled by the Colombian or Caribbean cuisine. I can’t get all the delicious things out of my head. The food is so fresh, so varied and so different. Empanadas and fresh mango juice for breakfast – an absolute dream.
I was also captivated by the language. Spanish is beautiful, especially when you learn it with and from the locals. You discover this language from a completely different perspective, learn so many idioms and also colloquial terms of the native speakers. My Spanish has improved in a playful way. The language has taken a big place in my heart.
My favorite places
Many of the places I visited left a fantastic impression. Positive impressions, but also some that made me think. I especially took the hostel and the house where the volunteers lived to my heart. That’s where just about everything happened. It was a place to work, a place to relax, a place to meet friends, a restaurant, a place to learn for life, and just generally such a cosmopolitan place where I enjoyed spending time. I also got to talk to people from all over the world, whether Australians, Brazilians, Israelis, US-Americans or even people from Germany, who live just 30 km away from me. And the great thing is that I still have contact with some of them and was able to make valuable friends for life.
My most beautiful moment
My most beautiful moment was also the saddest of the whole trip: The day I left. I was so sad that my time in Colombia would be over and I knew I would miss everything. My new friends, the ocean, the food, the hostel dogs, the work, and so much more.
But when my friends took me to the bus stop from where I started my journey towards home, I was able to say another heartfelt goodbye and review all the unforgettable experiences I had during my time in Palomino. The time has left its mark on me, and I also had the feeling of leaving a piece of my heart in Colombia. An indescribable, fantastic feeling.
This is how the journey has changed me
The trip has broadened my horizons through and through. I can relate to many things better now that I also know how other people, cultures, animals and nature are doing. The cosmopolitan nature of this program only made my desire to explore the world further grow, as I saw so much that would have otherwise remained hidden from me. And what I also learned is that you should be who you are and just enjoy life for a change, without stress or worry. You have nothing to lose on a trip like this and a whole lot to gain.
My tip for future travelers
Whether you’re going to Latin America or anywhere else in the world, my #1 tip is: Go ahead and start an adventure, because no one can take that away from you. It will feel unfamiliar at the beginning, as it did for me, and there will also be phases in between where you will be confronted with challenging situations. But all in all, you can’t do any better, especially if you’re still young and have time and a desire to explore. You’ll learn to speak new languages, better understand cultures and other people, and most importantly, in typical Latin American fashion, “No matter what, somehow it’ll work out.” This insight will help me many times in my life.
And why Latin America exactly? For me, before starting my trip, it was mainly because of the language I wanted to learn. But afterwards I can say that nowhere else is there such an exciting, happy and open-minded culture as well as impressive nature – the best reasons for a trip. Sometimes you just have to open your heart and let things happen. And if that is (still) a little difficult, then you learn it on such a trip at the latest.