A modern 2016 perspective from a Colombian woman (25) who loves her country and her German partner (32) who fell in love with it.
Colombia is huge, beautiful, and the most bio-diverse country in the world per square km. It’s incredible in its endless opportunities to enjoy your travels. Life happens outside here. Fans of archaeology and historic facts will be delighted by Tierradentro featuring pre-Columbian culture, the ruins of the Lost City and San Agustín archaeological sites. In present times, local farmers from the campo are always happy to invite you to live with them and learn to grow coffee or cacao, like our invitation for people from Slovenia. The calm Caribbean and wilder Pacific ignite the wish for adventure on a boat, beach, diving, snorkeling or just lazily getting tainted to swim as a refreshment after.
Why not have your first Salsa class and enjoy the famous nightlife while you discover its delicious food? You can use the travel tips in our upcoming Colombia Travel Guide 2016 with inspirations for your travel year 2016 and places you haven’t heard of.
Slovenia is magical for many reasons that you only discover when you visit it.
A magic you don’t want to miss is a food walking tour with Ljubljananjam to taste the yummy side of Ljubljana. Your friendly guide will be Iva Gruden who is also the founder.
Tour start: Prešeren Square, Ljubljanas best meeting point
You will visit incredible places and realize how deeply careful Slovenians are about what and how they eat. Gardening plays an important role in their life as well as organic food. They know the source and origins of food and most of it is made with their own hands or in their own village. Obviously, this helps keeping traditions alive and gathering families — not only around the table to eat but around the process of making food!
The central market in Ljubljana consists of a few parts. Ribarnica (fish market) is a place where locals can find their fish both from the Mediterranean sea and beyond. Pokrita tržnica (covered market) is in the lower level of seminary building – where the first public library is! – and it’s next to the fresh produce market, a paradise for your appetite!
You will be delighted by the delicatesses such as homemade flour. You will love the different tastes of goat and sheep cheeses and learn how to make them. You will try salami made of indigenous pork (the pigs were only fed with tree fruits) and more exotic salami made out of deer and even bear!
Every day Iva chooses a local restaurant. Each one is special because of the quality of their food and their particular story — usually related to social entrepreneurship.
If you analyze Slovenia’s gastronomy you will see that its geographic location (the bordering neighbors) had a strong influence on their cuisine, especially from the Italian side. Slovenia’s gastronomy is therefore diverse but also fragmented. Nevertheless, Iva combines all dishes, snacks and drinks into a perfect gastronomical adventure.
Ljubljananjam incorporates Slovenia’s many regional traditions in one unique experience. You travel around Slovenia through its food in a few hours while you enjoy the privilege of a small group with a very enjoyable guide. Iva is absolutely passionate about what she’s doing and a great ambassador of her country and its delicious food.
December is usually a time for reflection on a personal and professional level. And it’s also when businesses, like our own company, review what happened this year and what needs to be improved.
We won’t talk about figures, statistics and all that. We have in mind to start a conversation about the transformative aspect of traveling. Our friend, Eric Glustrom, Founder of Watson University, gives you an idea of how traveling can be transformative.
Traveling on different levels
You can travel just going to one place and spending the time in the hotel area. Hotels offer comfort, luxury, food and drinks all the time and nice swimming pools. You are definitely in a comfort zone, moving from your room to your pool and some shady places within the hotel area. The difference to your home place is maybe only the weather and the people are maybe also nicer.
You can travel on a road trip where to way is the goal. You may have or have no end destination. Your main variables defining the end of your travel are either time (e.g. being back before the semester or work begins) or money. On the road you don’t really care how and where you sleep. You don’t wanna get sick and enjoy the time. In fact, you could be on the bicycle, on the motorcycle, walking or in the car or van. The important thing is the movement.
A mixture of hotel and road travel is couch travel which refers to traveling in the couch surfing way. In this case you are often on low budget — but it doesn’t have to be like that. Couch traveling enables you to live in any kind of home (family house, single apartment, low-income apartment, run-down something, etc.) as long as it is offered through platforms like the world’s best known called Couchsurfing or other ways like friends or connections you made on the road.
The adventurer inside you is definitely awake when you travel like that because your time in the place where you stay is limited and you always will need to look for and arrange a new temporary place to sleep.
A comfort zone won’t build up in this kind of traveling, although you can be lucky or have good friends who can host you longer than a few days in very nice apartments or houses.
Definitely one of the most popular ways to travel. You take a backpack, not too small, not too big. It’s your permanent companion. Backpacking can mean that you use couch surfing, that you travel permanently on the road or stay in hotels (or hostels). It’s therefore only the term that is different from the types of travel mentioned before. No type of traveling is exclusive to one another.
Transformation in our understanding means that you as a person or professional experience a transformation through an intense, immersive travel-learning journey. One month is ideal for the transformation to take place, and is the ideal length we are aiming for — like in Colombia (March / April 2015).
Transformation takes places on different levels and in different qualities. What every transformation has in common is that it reveals a quality, skill, wish, etc. that was covered deep inside you. The magic of traveling, learning, doing good and connecting (the four central pillars of ON BOARD) provoke this uncovering or discovery process. Of course you will see super nice, breath-taking places. Of course you will these profound conversations you have been looking for in every day life. And yes, you will meet outstanding people who inspire you and initiate a mindset of possibilities and options — a mindset of abundance (“more”) instead of a mindset of scarcity (“less”).
But the most important thing is what happens to you and your environment in a social, economical, ecological, spiritual and (also) political sense. After an ON BOARD learning journey a lot can happen to you if you allow. So, you need to be willing that things happen to you. If you are open for transformation, transformation will happen. If you are unwilling to open up, you don’t allow transformation to happen. It’s like with hypnosis: It will only work if you allow it to work.
Therefore, pure willingness is the most crucial prerequisite for personal and professional transformation. Two past participants told us what they thought about their experience and the impact it had on them:
Marion Gabioud, from Switzerland:
ON BOARD is not an «anonymous» organization. To me, it is Alex, Marcela & Camilo, and all the other people who made me live 30-days of travel in Colombia, co-travellers as well as contacts carefully (and amazingly!) chosen by the On Board team, giving me the opportunity to meet special people who had a true will and a true love in them, that they were just incredibly open to share! It made me more conscious of what is done in this country, who believes in its value, and just opened my mind again to how I can change what I want in my own life to live more in adequation to my philosophy.
Traveling with a special team and other travellers willing to see the places with new eyes, meet people who share stories and put yourself at the place of the others while living besides them, in their houses, drinking their freshly picked coffee or tasting the cheese made with the cow’s milk you’ve milked the same morning!
Jorge Aristizabal, from Colombia:
For me ON BOARD was an awakening moment, it was that small push that I needed to get me moving in the direction of my dreams. It can be so deep and so light at the same time that I learned the biggest things about myself at the same time we were joking and hanging around.
We met Yussef for our meeting with the INGUAT, the instituto Guatemalteco de turismo, to tell them more about ON BOARD, our visit and also learn from their marketing campaign.
The Guatemala Institute of Tourism
Unfortunately, it is always very hard to get support from public institutions or from the government although they are the ones who should support initiatives like ON BOARD. At the end it’s thanks to the local people that we are able to visit, discover and promote the country.
They gave us some souvenirs bag from Guatemala and showed us on the map some places and communities to visit — most of them were already covered and known by Youssef and his Explora Guatemala.
We walked from zona 4 to zona 1 and discovered the sexta, a walking street in the middle of downtown — which is not very common in Guatemala. There’s even the verb “sextear” expressing to do a the flaneur-ish walking you can do on the sexta.
Yussef officially ON BOARD
We went to the former postal office and to the top of the building where you can closely see the Antigua-like arch and Guatemalan flag. Yussef had become officially ON BOARD in his favorite place of the city.
We also passed by the very beautiful old police building which is today the Ministery of Government.
Our mentor Albert Loan
We headed towards the not any more Lux theater to meet Albert Loan, our mentor.
We virtually met Bert for more than 2 years and we admire a lot what he does in terms of education and new pedagogy specially based on the Socratic method. He took us to a great place: Cafe de Tasso.
The story of Cafe de Tasso
A small restaurant inside a bookstore owned and run only by Patricia who happily served us and shared her story and the story of the place with us.
Tasso was a journalist and diplomat that came Guatemala from Belgium and Morocco. He used to live some blocks around where the cafe is today and he was born the same day than Patricia.
Patricia has a similar story in the sense that she was also living abroad and came to GUATEMALA not knowing what to do until some friends offer her to sell coffee at the bookstore in 2009 and slowly slowly she started adding some food to the menu which is not really a menu but what they call “comida de corrida” meaning you don’t have to chose much she will be brining you what she prepared.
The story of Albert
Albert told us his story about how GUATEMALA became his home some years ago. He is very attracted to Zona 1, the historical center. And since he first came to live here he has been living close to the sexta (6th).
He has seen its transformation: From a place where informal markets were happening to a place which ended up in ruins. This is when they closed the shops until the recovery which is happening today. They wisely chose to leave it only as a walking street where people can connect and interact in a very safe environment — very hard to see in any other place of the capital.
Albert was tempted to move when everybody was leaving but instead he chose to stay and see the progress happening. He sees opportunities in every corner and knows many entrepreneurs that think like him as well.
We continued our walk with a short stop to meet señora Pu and her restaurant, a mix of Mayan gastronomy with a French touch.
We headed towards the National Palace being locally called “Guacamolón” because of its Guacamole color. Now it is a cultural museum.
Down the road we found nice shades and an enjoyable silence, hard to find in the capital specially in public transportation.
We walked towards the baseball stadium and ended up in a huge 3-dimensional map where you can see from above the geography and topography of Guatemala: the two oceans and half the country being deep, big mountains and half of it plain. It is 110 years old. When it was done it was a very innovative idea!
Way home with public transportation struggles
After nice conversions and brainstormings we said goodbye to Yussef and Bert and headed towards our couchsurfing place.
The journey was longer than expected and allowed us to understand the daily life of many Guatemalans — from a different point of view.
We were stuck in traffic at least an hour in the first bus with of course no room for any move and more and more people entering. Then we waited a bit to catch the next bus and saw a high demand of buses screaming out loud where they were going. We finally took ours and it took us another hour — at least.
Rush hour is real here and this is the struggle of many many people that do not have another option.
It made us question the meaning of life quality and what is really going on with mobility. If someone is actually caring about it or if it’s convenient for someone that it stays as it is in terms of the public transportation situation — or simply there is lack of opportunity and there is always the need to commute or … overpopulation is real and big cities can’t handle more people.
We want to bed with these questions after working for some hours more and hanging out with our travelers friends from Argentina and hosts.