“A road trip,” he said. My dad had an overstuffed knapsack on his shoulder, which contained just clothes and snacks. It was a suddenly planned trip that I didn’t even get a chance to get excited before. My brother and I quickly grabbed a backpack and just put everything we saw into it. Without a second thought, we went out and got into the car. This was the beginning of our road trip.
Every road trip marks one of the best moments of the year. Personally, the reason why I love road trips is because I enjoy spending time with my family in the car. We get bond together when we spend hours and hours talking about so many things: from the old days when my brother was a baby to some scientific theories about the universe. Another reason why I love them is music. Yes, certainly the best part is when you have the authority to put the music everyone listens to and even more, having the perfect song come on shuffle. With the bumping music and little snacks, my family and I appreciated the beautiful view and this moment that will be missed when I am gone after I graduate. As we got further away from Bogota, we started feeling the hotness and humidity. My dad raised the level of air conditioner without anyone noticing. Our destination, Girardot, was close.
Exhilaration and relaxation did not last long. Let me mention that we followed Waze, the well-known navigation application. The way out of Bogota was okay; my dad knew where to go and how to go, thus, we did not need Waze’s guide. However, when the time for an appropriate navigation was imperative, she, the voice of the lady, started to guide us to narrow and unpaved roads. We doubted a little bit, but kept following her orders, of course. There was nothing else to rely on since we did not know where we were. Well, I guess we trusted her too much. We looked at our surroundings, and unexpectedly, we were in a market place. My dad whispered in a very low voice, “S***.” That was the moment when we realized that there was something wrong with it. The place was clustered with a bunch of people. Although the roads were wide enough for two cars to pass at the same time, people were just walking across the roads, not letting us move forward. We were basically stuck. My dad tried to honk the horn to make people scatter from the path, but they simply ignored or maybe did not hear it.
This was not the climax of the journey. People began to acknowledge that we are Asians: four Asians in a car. They all of a sudden turned their heads and started to stare at us through the windows. Anyone could say that it was their first time seeing Asian people. At that moment, it exactly felt like about six years ago when I first came to Colombia and went to Unicentro. People actually gazed at us and some of them even came close just to look at our face. I was little, about 11 years old, when I experienced that incident. I could not understand why and obviously felt disrespected. Since then, I questioned myself everyday: do we have something different from them? The answer I came up with was yes and no. Over time, I realized that we have different physical characteristics and cultures, but there was nothing I could do about it besides just accepting it and being proud of my ethnicity. The more I try to hide and feel embarrassed about myself, the more they discriminate my culture. Furthermore, I had to understand that they are not intentionally staring at us to affront us, but rather just being curious. Going back to my journey, the beams coming out from their eyes were making us sweat more. Yet, we all needed to make sure that we don’t look nervous. The best description of this situation might be a safari tour. It actually felt like a safari tour, but ironically the other way around: people looking at us from the outside instead of us looking at the outside. Meanwhile, I remembered that I needed to take pictures for the travel piece, so I took out my phone. Nonetheless, my dad told me earnestly, “Do not take your phone out.” So, I couldn’t take any pictures.
After an hour of struggling to get through this human jungle, we finally arrived to our hotel. We got out of the car and we all breathed a sigh of relief. The hotel seemed like a paradise. I immediately got changed my sticky clothes into light and dried ones, and laid down in front of the pool. It was heaven.
My mom woke me up from a delicious nap by tapping on my shoulder. One servant came close to me.
“Du..du ju whuant a piña colada?” said the servant with his clumsy English.
He was a young man with a brownish skin tone, probably about 20 years old. I thought it was very cute that he tried to talk to me in English. Maybe it was to practice his English skills, maybe he thought I don’t speak Spanish, or maybe it was just for curiosity, who knows. The only thing I was sure about was that his eyes were full of wonder.
So, I responded smiling at him,“Yes, please. Sí, por favor.”
He looked a little bit surprised at first after listening to my Spanish. Then, he asked me in a fluent Spanish accent.
“Ah, hablas español muy bien!”
The trip gave me another significant memory of Colombia. It reminded me once again that I should understand some extraordinary behaviors of people who haven’t had opportunities to meet new people from different cultures. Moreover, I must comprehend that none of these people approach to us with an evil purpose. They probably just want to learn, explore, and become acquainted with my culture just like I do too with their culture.