I am beyond excited to introduce myself to the “Momenta Family” and help you get to know more about my birth country of Colombia before we embark on our next international photography workshop there.
My name is Emanuel Echeverri and have been a Research & Development team member at Momenta since 2016. Over the next few months, I will be posting informational articles to help you prepare for an amazing workshop together this summer in Colombia.
When most people come to Colombia, they expect three different countries: the Stereotype Colombia, the Eden Colombia, or the Real Colombia. I will explain each below. However, if you wish to explore the last Colombia, I guarantee our Project Colombia 2017 workshop will offer you an opportunity few are lucky enough experience.
1. First, there is the stereotypical Colombia of Hollywood storytellers. This traveler believes there is nothing more than the home of Pablo Escobar, where civil war, and rampant violence pervade the culture. Many incorrectly assume narcos own the country and violence is around every corner. This could not be further from the truth.
Colombia today is a nation of liberated people who are dedicated to peaceful leadership. Cities once paralyzed by violence are now bustling centers of innovation and commerce. Foreign investment, once seen as a gamble, flocks to sectors ranging from tech to a burgeoning film industry. You will often hear locals joke, “The real danger is not wanting to leave.” What was once Colombia’s shame is now a distant memory.
2. Next, there is the very true perception of the Eden Colombia. This nation is truly a stunning paradise with landscapes of immeasurable beauty and diversity which rids even the most experienced traveler of complacency. An hour-long drive will introduce you to drastic changes in elevation, climate, and people. On a cold morning, you can enjoy the historic district of Bogota and, by the afternoon, you are perusing sunny San Fransico’s hummingbird sanctuary. If you are looking for the perfect weather, you can join us in Medellin, aptly named “The City of Eternal Spring”.
On the shores of the Caribbean lies the Old City in Cartagena, which has preserved its classic Spanish colonial architecture. Further down the coast lies Barranquilla, known for the second largest carnaval in the world where parades are held every day by revelers in traditional garb and the party goes all all night.
For the nature fanatic, there is Santa Marta and the world famous Cuidad Perdida, nestled in the Sierra Nevada, where hikers follow paths set down by Pre-Columbian tribes. While this is surely enough for years of travel, it is only a small piece of the opportunities Colombia offers.
3. Even more alluring is the Real Colombia, which for those who wish to ignite change is irresistible. It lies hidden throughout the country I love, and you only have to join us to see for yourself. This is the country most visitors will never experience. It is the country Colombians built. It is true, it is bursting with life, and it ready for your photography skills to discover it.
Our first host city for the workshop is at the heart of unique paisa culture, know for its proud people, welcoming traditions, love of art and music, and hearty food portions. You may find yourself in the city center of Medellin documenting the cities goal to be fully accessible to those with disabilities or out in the suburbs with organic farmers learning how sustainable agriculture techniques to compete globally. Maybe you will share an early morning tinto (coffee), a sacred tradition, from a street vendor and share your photos on the back of your camera with the curious locals. Perhaps, as often happens with tourists, you will discover something entirely new that will fundamentally change your worldview.
To deny that Colombia has flaws would be foolish. Throughout my lifetime, I have witnessed the struggles of a country tearing itself apart and, in spite of such a past, Colombians choose a bright future. Once a part of daily life, violence has become a topic of history. Deserted nightlife districts have sprung back to life with vigor. I have seen families, long displaced by war, return to their ancestral lands, witnessed cities once written off as irredeemable become centers of prosperity. I observed as my country marched for peace and began the painful process of healing. This is the Colombia I know, one that is honest with itself, that stumbles often but has never stepped backward. A place where if you smile and say, “Buenos días!” you will always find a welcoming smile. This is the Real Colombia, my Colombia.
Coming to Colombia with Momenta Workshops is no small endeavor. You will be in a position requiring creativity, patience, mindfulness, and enthusiasm as you explore your narrative storytelling. This will truly be a workshop like no other because you are at the forefront of the rise of a nation. You will be working with nonprofits who were once dismissed as irrational dreamers and are now leading the charge for social change as united coalitions of citizens. The country is ascending into a position of leadership in the region and becoming a beacon of hope.
My goal for all you who join us in Colombia is not to provide a pre-scripted experience. I want to introduce each of you to the Real Colombia, as I know it, so you will fall in love with it too.