My Colombian Television Debut
Went for a walk today. Made my ankle blister bleed again, and got on Colombian television.
We found a flyer in town for a desert garden that advertised a labyrinth, medicine wheel, and a variety of unknown Spanish vocabulary that sounded enticing anyway. So this afternoon after changing hostels, eating lunch in one of the most gorgeous inner courtyards I have ever seen, and doing some laundry in the hotel sink (sh! Don’t tell them!) we started walking.
It was a nice walk, with a great view down over the valley and up onto the slopes of the Cordillera Oriental of the Andes. I didn’t think a picture would do it justice, but stepped over to take one anyway, avoiding the little group of people in a white minivan who were mounting a rather impressive camera of their own.
I took my picture and K and I started walking again, only to be stopped a few steps later by a lady from the group running up and asking if we were tourists, and if so, where were we headed. The Pozos Azules? (Blue wells/waterholes/ponds.)
She explained that she was working as a local liaison with a camera crew filming a sort of Colombia documentary aiming to advertise the country to its own inhabitants and expats living abroad. Would we like to be in it?
The director asked us to walk up the road again, this time on film. Okeydokey, sounds fun! There happened to be a military checkpoint right there, two babyfaced young men with assault rifles, and the liaison suggested that if they were trying to improve Colombia’s image, putting 18 year olds with automatic weapons in the shot might not be the best approach. “No offense, guys.”
We walked up the road. Then again, slower, straight at the camera and passing to either side. Classy.
Then they taped a mic up under my shirt and asked me what I thought of Colombia and Villa de Leyva, and why. In Spanish please. A little harder, but also fun.
Then they drove us to the Pozos Azules, and filmed us walking up to a vantage point, K taking a picture, and asked her what she thought of the area. It was awesome watching her negotiate away from having to answer in Spanish, then answering with the camera and crew standing around her. The poor sound guy looked like he was going to have an aneurism when he had to clip the microphone onto the neckline of her dress.
Then it was down to the water itself, where they asked K again how she felt about the area. Next was my turn, sitting on the embankment, asked what I thought about the area and the water, then if I felt Colombia was unsafe and how I felt about that.
These two questions caught me off guard. To the first I said I thought it was beautiful, that we had similar places (in the US) but that I liked that there was no pollution there. In doing so I made up a new Spanish word for pollution. Oops.
Then for the security question I said we have never felt unsafe, and have met a lot of very friendly and helpful Colombians, but that we did take it into account, for example by avoiding long or overnight bus trips. As I said that the director’s face fell. Sorry mate, gotta tell the truth, you don’t turn around a country’s entire image in 8 years. He was a purist though, and no second chances or preparation, just honest reactions.
The director said he’d email me the link when it’s ready and tell me when it’ll be televised. I’ll try to link it here.
While they filmed K expounding on how beautiful the area is, the liaison lady told me about the area and its sacred and semi-forgotten past, including the old entrance to the valley (before a paved road changed the route) that has a lot of ancient drawings on the rock walls. She described how to get there, adding that it was an easy place to get lost, there was not really a path, and what path there was has probably been destroyed by last winter’s storms. We’re going to try and walk there tomorrow. Wish us luck, otherwise our upcoming Colombian debut (on Caracol) will have a whole different vibe…