After one too many nights in San Gil I found myself I’m Barichara. A small town that I was (originally) very excited to visit. After being in gems like Ubud, Hoi An, Chefchaouen, Antigua and Luang Prabang I googled “places like Ubud, Hoi An, Chefchaouen, Antigua and Luang Prabang.”
Barichara was said to be the Colombian version of such magical places. And while it’s cute, quaint, impeccably clean, and picturesque it is NOT like the other towns I fell in love with. It’s boring. I’m sorry, but it’s true. It’s a town – nah a village – of less than 10,000 that is no more than 10 blocks by 12 blocks. Now size isn’t everything, but they’re not exactly packing a big punch in that area either.
I’m sure one day the town will be discovered by some lost soul American woman who waxes poetic about its inner beauty and tranquillity. She’ll probably even get laid here, prompting her to write a book about it and then the hordes will flock to Barichara turning it into a veritable boom town/gold rush for single women in their 30s ala Eat Pray Love. And eventually, when the town square is overrun with opportunists selling copies of said book and cheap sunglasses, people will say “Oh I wish I could have seen it before.”
First off, I am not that woman. I’m not here to tell you how great it is and I’m certainly not getting laid. And you know what? These hypothetical people in this hypothetical situation do NOT wish they had seen it before. Suresuresure it’s cute, but places deemed “touristy” have their perks. Like bars. And people. And showers with hot water. You can’t call me a fair weather traveler because I’ve shit in places you can’t even imagine (the Sahara, bamboo forests, back alley holes with rats, etc.), endured fan-less, AC-less dorms for weeks on end, and kept my flights to a minimum. In short, I’m no priss, but I appreciate some of the things that people call “touristy.” Call me traditional. To quote a line from Boogie Nights: “I like simple pleasures, like butter in my ass, lollipops in my mouth.” To be clear, I don’t have an affinity for either of these things, but you get me, right?
So, after sampling the local fare (goat), traipsing around the whole of the town and perusing through every. single. kitchy trinket-touting shop, I did what any red-blooded, pale-skinned American woman would do: I drank cheap wine and laid by the pool. This was particularly satisfying because, after nearly ten solid months of sun (which resulted in perfectly bronzed skin and salon-quality bleached hair), I will be ending my time abroad in cold, beach-free Peru. I will return to the tail-end of American summer with white skin and, thanks to a flamboyant Venezuelan at a salon in Medellin who didn’t understand what I meant when I said “un poco,” very short hair.
This is not how I had imagined my romanticized return to America. In my fantasy I was sun-kissed to the point of resembling Pocahontas, with long, flowing, beachy hair, that was naturally (and of course tastefully) lightened. Oh, and in this fantasy my body was bangin’. And it was after nearly two months of hard work in Guatemala and Costa Rica, but this promptly went to waste after arriving in Colombia – the land of overindulging in Club Colombia beers and fried food, and a country which has a hardy disdain for vegetables (minus starchy ones like potatoes and yucca). There’s a reason they like fat asses here. It’s because all of their asses are fat. They just had to embrace it. And embrace it they have… but I digress.
So here I sit, with my travel tummy still very much intact, my hair at nearly lesbian-lengths, but a dull buzz and, perhaps, slightly more pronounced tan lines. The day is a win.