Photo Essay Photography Reporter's Notebook Top Travel

An ordinary, amazing place

A road leading to the town square in Santandercito. (Ana Fadul/YJI)

Santandercito, COLOMBIA – There’s always something exciting about walking through a new location.

There’s a sense of surprise around each corner even when you’ve already seen the same thing a million times. You might be familiar with it, but a different atmosphere can create a unique experience from all others.

That is the only way you can describe Santandercito, a typical Colombian village that I’ve seen more times than I can count.

Colloquially known as Golden Corn, pachystachys lutea is a flower native to the region, growing on the side of the road with homes in the background. (Ana Fadul/YJI)

It’s no different from the one I visit on family vacations, the one I got stuck in after my school bus got damaged in the middle of a road trip, or – being fully honest – not even the one my family comes from. 

Santandecrito is full of colorful houses, surrounded by the forests of the Andes mountain range, and filled with flora everywhere you go. As in any other town, there is a lively population that with nothing out of the ordinary ever happening, will tell you the town gossip on the first day, and invite you to a good cup of coffee from the nearby farms.

A ripe coffee plantation on the side of a mountain near Santandercito. (Ana Fadul/YJI)

To fulfill the prophecy of the typical town, you will see a random animal in the middle of the road. This time it was a cow – definitely an upgrade from the 2-meter snake from last time.

In the same manner, you might get followed by a random dog, nearly get pecked by a bunch of chickens whose owner doesn’t appear, or, as in my case, both – in the span of 30 minutes.

Two cows in a forest clearing. (Ana Fadul/YJI)

At the central square there is a majestic church, and in front of it a gigantic tree filled with Spanish moss falling as a curtain from its tree branches.

A tall tree on Santandarcito’s town square with Spanish moss hanging from the branches. (Ana Fadul/YJI)

The surrounding area is made up of people’s houses decorated with little trinkets on the balconies that span from bird feeders to pots, while at the entrance to town there is a wall filled with graffiti that you can look at as you say goodbye. 

Walking around, it’s impossible not to notice that you can find flowers of every color, even when you’re not looking. The orchids look down upon you from the treetops while lianas creep through the stone walls. There’s a splash of color every now and then, each flower with a different pattern –even the locals don’t know the names of them all. 

Santandercito is definitely not the pinnacle of entertainment that many people are looking for in a vacation spot. It’s not a known tourist site and it’s not a unique town among the thousands of others in the country.

An elevated view of the forest in the eastern branch of the Colombian Andes Mountains. (Ana Fadul/YJI)

Even with all those drawbacks, you can enjoy the simplicity of the colorful streets while being surrounded by people who may not know you but are still welcoming of anyone from outside the village. 

It might be a predictable place, but it’s incredible nonetheless. 

Ana Fadul is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

Leave a Comment