Yes, that’s just a screenshot (hands up if you clicked on it).
We’ll get to my one minute of fame shortly, but in order for this post to make some sense please indulge me briefly as I take you back to the beginning.
The Gump Method was so named in order to reflect my general approach to the journey on which I’ve since been. To quote myself (not for the last time in this post) here is an excerpt from the original explanation:
“I don’t yet know what I’m running towards, and I’m definitely running away from something I didn’t like, but for the time being I am just running: The Gump Method….If it ultimately helps me to focus in on what’s important, and how that might link to future career and life plans, that would be a bonus.”
The plan was always just to go wherever the wind took me, moving on whenever I felt like moving. More importantly, I wanted to stop and spend a meaningful amount of time in any place I really liked.
That place, for me, has been Colombia. It was about as close as you can get to love at first sight; I think the moment it hit me was my first night out in Bogota with Walter and our Danish pals Jacob and Esben. I just could not believe how open and friendly everyone was towards us; above all the local guys.
After an epic New Year celebration in Medellin complete with handheld firework launches the love affair grew stronger as I traveled along Colombia’s beautiful and vibrant Caribbean coast, before it peaked in Cali. Despite never having danced salsa in my life before arriving in Colombia I was learning every day, somehow holding my own in the home of salsa and loving every minute of it.
As I approached the end of my first two months in Colombia I tried to extend my stay but the cost was prohibitive. Instead I continued south on what I have subsequently named the ‘Yo-Yo Tour.’ My route from Central America to the southern tip of the continent and back again towards Panama via a second visit to Colombia makes very little sense logistically or financially, but that’s just how things turned out.
I enjoyed my time in Santiago, Buenos Aires, Mendoza and both the Argentinian and Chilean parts of Patagonia, but did not particularly warm to Peru or Ecuador. While all these countries have amazing histories, unique cultures and natural wonders aplenty, it is the approach to life and the incredible warmth of its people (especially towards tourists) that for me differentiates Colombia from its neighbours.
Four months after leaving Colombia for Peru back in February, a miserable 24 hour, three leg bus journey across the Ecuadorian-Colombian border landed me right back in Cali, the capital of the Valle de Cauca region. I had already booked my onward journey to Cartagena but after another week in Cali I wasn’t ready to leave and decided to skip the flight. I signed up for 10 more hours of salsa lessons with my excellent teacher Luis at Rumba y Salsa, one of Cali’s many excellent dance academies, and a month later I’m still here.
While my time in Cali has mostly revolved around dancing and nightlife, the Colombia versus England World Cup match was probably the highlight. After the match I was interviewed by a news programme called TV Noticias 5, or Noti5. With my improving but still basic Spanish I doubted whether I’d make the cut, so was surprised to find out that they had done a little segment on me. The full show has since been uploaded to YouTube.
If you hadn’t already guessed where I was going with this post it’s about time I got to the announcement, so what better way of delivering it than live on Colombian TV, in Spanish…
It is cringe central and I still have to watch it through the gaps between my fingers but here it is for your viewing pleasure. The segment starts at 9:40.
For those of you that don’t speak Spanish, here is my best effort at the transcript and a translation to English:
Reporter: Hoy en un centro commercial al oeste de la ciudad, las miradas se las llevó Oliver Jones por su doble pasión. Un corazón que le tocó dividirse entre su país de nacimiento Inglaterra y Colombia el que ha empezado amar. Por lo cual el resultado de hoy le generó sentimientos encontrados.
- Today in a shopping centre to the west of the city we saw Oliver Jones with his split loyalties. He has had to divide his heart between his country of birth, England, and Colombia, which he has began to love. Today’s result therefore gave him mixed feelings
Me: Estoy super emocionado ahora – no sé como sentir porque como puede ver, soy ingles pero tengo un corazón de los dos ahora. Vivo aqui. Estoy triste pero….muy emocionado.
- I’m really emotional now – I don’t know how to feel because as you can see I’m English but have a heart of both [countries] as I’m living here. I’m sad but…very emotional
Reporter: Independientemente del resultado este ingles ahora seguirá su apoyo por Inglaterra que avanzó, pero continuará en esta tierra que lo ha cogido de gran manera.
- Regardless of the result this Englishman will now carry on supporting England who progressed [to the next round], but will continue in this land which he has fallen for in such a big way
Me: Llevo un mes, sí pero me encanta el país, la gente Caleño (Caleña, disculpa). Y sí, voy a vivir, quedarme acá mucho tiempo, espero.
- I’ve been here a month but I love the country, the people of Cali and I hope to stay here for a long time
So there you have it – my first Colombian TV appearance and a somewhat unconventional way of telling everyone that I have found an apartment and decided to move myself to Cali for the time being.
Through a combination of my limited vocabulary and wanting to say some nice things for the camera the exact words I used in the interview didn’t quite reflect where my head is at, but the general gist of it is accurate.
I love the city, the Caleño culture, the people, the dancing, the near-perfect climate, the nature and the fact that you can eat a different tropical fruit every day. After so many dark years in the past I believe that Colombia, and particularly Cali, is a land of great opportunity and am excited already to be working on some (salsa-related) business ideas.
If things don’t work out on the business front then I might lose some money but at the very least I will get to a decent level of Spanish and become a bad ass salsa dancer (of this I am sure) which would still be a pretty acceptable outcome in my opinion.
Any questions? No? Excellent.
Football is coming home and so am I, but not for long. I will be taking a short ‘holiday’ in the UK from mid-July to early August before heading straight back to Cali, so for those of you who are in or around London during that time I hope to see you soon.