In October, 2014, I spent a year on a trip to Latin America. The region attracted me by its uncertainty and remoteness. On the biggest adventure of my life, I started saving long before leaving. At first she put her salary off, working in the trade marketing of a big company, and then she participated in different summer city festivals with my wafer project The Bakersville. I planned to travel from Mexico to Argentina, but on the way I realized that there was no point in chasing the number — it’s much more interesting to travel at your rhythm, stopping to live in the places you like.
I worked at a hostel in the cozy colonial town of San Cristobal in the south of Mexico, studied painting ceramics at a small factory in Guatemala, built a house of natural materials on a farm in Nicaragua, cooked food for tourists and collected coconuts in the morning on San Blas Island in Panama . As a result, in eight months I traveled to Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and moved to Colombia by boat. The next three months I traveled to Colombia and was absolutely delighted with people, the beauty of nature, the varied landscape and rich culture.
I fell in love with Cartagena at first sight: colorful houses with balconies, the blue water of the Caribbean Sea, magnificent sunsets, live music in squares and insanely friendly people
My base in Colombia was Cartagena, from where I traveled to other cities. I fell in love with her at first sight: colorful houses with balconies crocheted with creeping plants, crystal blue Caribbean water and islands in an hour’s journey, magnificent sunsets, live music in squares, permanent festivals — modern dance, cinema, orchestras — and insanely friendly people . From the country it was difficult to leave, all the time there were reasons to stay: then a four-day trekking to the lost settlement, which you can not miss, friends invite to the house on the hill with a magnificent view of the coffee plantations, the course on freediving, which so long wanted to pass.
On the course of freediving, I met Sylvia, a freckled girl with curly hair and beautiful tattoos. After two days of diving camp on the island of Cholon, we went with her to celebrate receiving certificates for a party on the roof of the hostel. There Sylvia introduced me to her friend Jose, a tall, tanned, handsome man with broad shoulders and a snow-white smile. After a while, when I continued to travel deep into the country, gradually approaching Ecuador, I accidentally met him again. We moved with him from one romantic city to another on the bus, and we had an interesting conversation: Jose invited me to stay in Cartagena and open a branch of my Moscow waffle bar, and at the same time to find out his best. I thought, «Why not?» Try to do business in the city, which I liked so much, it seemed to me much more interesting than to visit another country. In the same bus, I made a decision: everything, the food to live in Cartagena.
Back in the city, I immediately started building a fudkaart. I remember how I got off the bus in the company of my friend Miguel and rushed off to the stainless steel workshop. He stopped me: «Where are you running to? Get used to moving slowly, otherwise you will sweat a lot and get tired quickly. » Soon I realized what he meant. All year round in Cartagena there is unbearable heat, so everything is done very slowly. At lunch, from twelve to two, when the temperature reaches the maximum mark, the city does not stop at all: nobody is on the roads, all businesses are closed, no one responds to the phones — siesta. The second siesta is the time of the football broadcast, the holy of holies for the Colombians. More than half of the population on the day of matches is in the form of a national team, begs or just runs away from work to watch the competition. The third weighty reason not to work is rain. Because of all of the above, the construction was delayed for two months instead of the one I had planned. Almost every day I had to come to the workshops to supervise the work.
Efforts were worth the result: my wafer stand turned out to be insanely beautiful. As it turned out, the biggest difficulty still awaited me. In Cartagena, at each corner, someone sells something: coconut water, hot dogs, burgers, lemonades, fruits, arrests (corn tortillas), cigarettes, traditional fried fritos pies or skewers on small skewers. At the same time, as I found out already in the process, street trade in Colombia is illegal. If you constantly move, everything is in order, but it’s forbidden to park for several hours in one place (as, by the way, still does the majority). Since the waffle iron requires electricity, I can not constantly move, so I fall into the category of illegal immigrants. The order is closely monitored by the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development of Colombia. Men in black suits at any time can appear on the square and confiscate your stand. This somehow happened to me when I left my worker to sell waffles, and she went herself to indulge in freediving to the islands of San Andres and Providencia.
Naturally, I asked permission to trade with the city authorities, but for nine months I did not receive it. However, the refusal to me also did not come. I realized that many issues are solved here in a different way. On the one hand, I found out that an unofficial authority is possessed by a local businessman, about whom there are many rumors: some say he is a mobster who is engaged in drug trafficking and kills people, others — that he is just very rich and talented, so many envy and spread him about him terrible gossip. In any case, I decided to meet him and ask for his support. He opened a restaurant in the square where I worked, and periodically came to check how the construction is going. One such day I cooked waffles, came up to introduce myself and told him with burning eyes how I built the Fudkaart of my dream, and now they do not let me work. Not asking for anything in return, he promised to help.
On the other hand, I realized that a big role in the success of your business is also played by whether the barrio community accepts you. I decided to make my own contribution: I repaired the tiles on the square with my money, arranged a free workshop on origami, followed by eating waffles for the children of the district, took part in several subbotniks. I do not know what exactly worked (probably a combination of all the actions taken), but the police and the ministry did not bother me anymore.
In Colombia, there are many business opportunities and it is quite easy to get a visa and a work permit. True, you have to learn Spanish — here without it anywhere. At me it turned out somehow by itself. I never took language lessons. First I played with the Busuu application on the phone, checked on the Internet how the verbs were conjugated, tried to communicate all the time — and learned to speak. I wrote down the words by ear, and I automatically corrected all my mistakes, so I learned how to write.