After spending a night in the middle of Parque Tayrona, a piece of Colombia's Sierra Nevada, we returned to Taganga, Colombia, a small town situated on a beautiful bahia. It was a town of humble people, fisherman and artisans, with family roots there that date back hundreds of years. Our hostel owners, natives of the town, informed us of a meeting happening that evening, a town hall. The mayor of the larger province of Santa Marta would be there. We didn't think much of it and didn't plan on attending.
Instead, we headed across the street to the park to watch some kids play soccer. When in Rome, of course. Across the field looked interesting, a full stage set up, chairs and people gathered. Unknowingly, we embodied the saying, "Do as the Romans do." We headed over and quite literally found ourselves right smack in the middle of that Town Hall they told us about. Once we realized what it was, we figured we should stay a bit, see what they discuss, see what it is like. What we didn't anticipate was that the whole crowd at one point would chant that they want the tourists out of town. Us being the privileged tourists and all, well, that was an odd place to be. But, we stepped into it, we listened to their why and understood.
That experienced changed the way we travel, the way we see ourselves and the potential impact we have on the communities we explore. It also helped us take a look inward in other ways. For that, we are thankful.
It isn't a usual bucket list item when you are hopping from town to town trying to experience a culture and country, but it absolutely is one of the most authentic and deepest ways to do so.
Check out Ep. 5 of the podcast to hear the full details of the Town Hall experience.