A love letter

Photo by Nathália Rosa on Unsplash

We were three beers deep and I was starting to feel tipsy, my clarity blurring as I tried to follow your winding train of thought. You were describing something complex with so much conviction that if it hadn’t been you I might have considered it pompous. But you were just being you. You saw past and through everything so clearly that it sometimes felt like you had a sixth sense. You took no bullshit.

You were only 9 months older than me. We met once when we were six and not again until we were 20. But we only really…

Until I had to press pause

Photo by Daniel Vargas on Unsplash

Every time I bite into the hard chocolatey outside and soft crumbly inside of a Choco Ramo, one of Colombia’s most beloved junk food items, I feel like my 6-year-old self, running around my childhood home just-outside-of Bogotá.

I moved to the U.S. when I was seven-years-old. It was 1998 and Colombia was not exactly the most ideal place to be, if you had the choice. We were able to leave because of my mom, who is Cuban-American, and my mom’s parents, who initially took us in in Miami. Though I moved at such a young age, I spent my…

The confusing reality of legality and access

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“Aborten el patriarcado!” Abort the patriarchy. This is what the massive purple banners around me said as I marched up Bogotá’s Avenida Jiménez for the city’s International Women’s Day march last Sunday.

Straight up destroying the patriarchy seems like an apt rallying cry for Colombia’s feminist movement. On March 2, the Colombian constitutional court missed a major opportunity to expand the decriminalization of abortion, upholding the 2006 law that restricts legality to three specific situations (more on this later). Cases of femicide have caught international attention and sparked a flame behind feminist movements in the region, particularly in Mexico in…

A Colombian campesino’s commitment to place

Jardín, Colombia as seen on a cloudy afternoon from the Mirador de Cristo Rey.

He took off his hat and placed it on the table in front of him, beaming with pride as he looked down at the worn, multi-colored sombrero. “It was a great deal, and it protects me from the sun,” he explained. The hat was synthetic straw, white with purple, yellow, and orange stripes decorating its wide brim.

I was sitting at the Mirador de Cristo Rey in Jardín, Antioquia, when the campesino, owner and proprietor of the adjoining café, approached me.

After a highly-anticipated, once-in-a-lifetime family trip to Cuba, I felt weighed down by the need to write it all…

My “lucha de lenguas” from Spanish to English

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For the first time in 21 years, I’m living in a Spanish-speaking country. I’m here to get to know myself better by getting to know where I come from. I’m here to experience living in the often great — sometimes difficult — city of Bogotá. I’m here to challenge everything that I know and unlearn the values that aren’t serving me well. I’m here to grow. I’m here to reconnect with my mother tongue.

I distinctly remember the days when I couldn’t really speak English. I was about 5 years old. I always understood English because my mom always spoke…

Protests and Thanksgiving in Bogotá

My tools for peaceful protest, worn but mighty.

We’ve been at it for eight straight days. Colombians all over the country and here in the capital of Bogotá have had enough.

They’ve had enough of the conservative government of Ivan Duque, a puppet President that governs at the whims of his villain-like Centro Democratico predecessor, Alvaro Uribe. They’ve had enough of the systematic killing of indigenous social leaders. They’ve had enough of extreme socio-economic inequality, and the widening of the gap between the extremely wealthy and the poor. They’ve had enough of the privatization of would-be government services, and the prioritization of economic gains at the expense of…

The significance of electing Bogotá’s first LGBTQ mayor

Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

I’ve been back in Bogotá, Colombia’s Andean capital, for about three months. I say “back” because I was born here, but really, I’m a total gringa. 28 years later, I moved back to Bogotá to reconnect with my roots, and just in time to witness a major event in Colombian history.

On October 27, Senator Claudia López became Bogotá’s first elected woman mayor and the city’s first openly lesbian mayor.

As an American, it took me a while to understand the significance of mayoral elections in Bogotá, but trust me, they’re a big deal. As Colombia’s political and economic hub, Bogotá is home to about 20% of the country’s population. …

saying yes to unexpected friendships

Photo by Kris Atomic on Unsplash

Growing up, I got a lot of drug jokes any time my Colombian origins came up in conversation. It still happens. But it happens less and less. Its kind of like people finally learning that it’s not okay to say “that’s retarded” or “that’s so gay.” Please, never say those things. And please, don’t mention Pablo Escobar the second somebody tells you that they’re Colombian. It’s exhausting to have a complex mulitcultural nationality be boiled down to one infamous drug lord. Thanks alot, Netflix.

Since graduating from college 6 years ago, I’ve noticed a signficant shift in people’s reactions when…

Photo by Mark Koch on Unsplash

Growing up in perfectly manicured, anything-but-real South Florida, I always thought that the real world would be different. I thought that after college, I would magically get spit up into it, and I would get to live in “reality” at last. I thought of this unavoidable post-college reality as one in which I would be an adult with a “real job” and “real responsibilities.” This is what mainstream American and Western society teaches us. “Real people” define themselves with their work, and with their contribution to the economy. “Real people” pursue a career and maintain their career as their main…

Creativity at 8,000 feet

Installation at Espacio Odeón. Bogotá, Colombia.

“I feel like I’m in New York City,” I responded when asked about my impressions of Bogotá. The interrogator, who was an upper-class, middle-aged housewife, scoffed at my comparison. She said something along the lines ofÑ But New York is so beautiful! Central Park, Manhattan! Bogotá is a mess, it’s so unsafe and messy. It’s nothing like New York.

This is, in my opinion, depends entirely on your perspective.

Yes, Bogotá is a mess if you’re comparing it to the Upper West Side or Fifth Avenue. …

Tasha Sandoval

Dreamer and thinker. Writer and educator. Attempting the impossible task of going home again.

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