I chose to stay at the "Volunteers hostel" in Cartagena because it has an altruistic purpose. With the money they earn by having the hostel business they empower local underprivileged communities through their organization called FEM (www.femcolombia.com). In addition they educate about the challenges which the Cartagena area and Colombia as a country face. Together with locals we had a community evening in the hostel where we talked about the problem of racism in the country. Especially Cartagena used to be a “trade hub” for slaves from Africa and in the year 2018 they (by far) still haven't reached equality.
The hostel community at the Volunteers hostel (backpackers and staff) felt like being in a family. There was an older couple from Canada and the husband Michael played the guitar which filled the rooms in a warm and relaxing atmosphere. I did a day trip to Playa Blanca with Fernanda and Luis from Brazil. They were very kind and warm hearted what made me decide to add Brazil on my travel list. I spent a great beach afternoon with Natascha from Switzerland who teaches in Bolivia now and I had quality time in the city with Ieke from the Netherlands and Jade Ariel from the US. We did a guided city tour together and later on we discovered the local cuisine. A big thanks to the locals Kevin, Mary and all the staff members from the hostel for being such great hosts. I also wanna mention Edward and his girlfriend from England and Bernat from Barcelona. It was wonderful getting to know you all. In general people in Colombia are positive, smiling and full of life. It adds additional sunshine to the life there.
Besides being a beautiful city, I will remember Cartagena mostly because of the people I met there and the times in community we shared. So it kind of matched with my thoughts on the last evening when I read the following quote on a website of a German institute for happiness and well-being.
“Was ist Glück? Zusammensein mit Menschen die man liebt und von denen man geliebt wird als Königsdisziplin. Was lässt uns das Leben wertvoll erscheinen? Einen Ort zu haben, an dem ich sein kann wie ich bin. An dem ich willkommen bin und auch gerne andere willkommen heiße”
“What is happiness? Being together with people you love and people who love you as the most wonderful thing in life. What makes life valuable? To have a place where I can be who I am. A place where I am welcome to be and where I like to welcome others.”