BEHIND THE LENS
QUINDIO, COLOMBIA BY JIMENA PALACIO
Colombian, street and travel photographer, and portraitist, Jimena Palacio is a documentarian of everyday life. While she also works on product and fashion photography, what intrigues her most are the anonymous people who pass in front of her camera. Jimena’s images were recently featured in Assouline’s Cartagena Grace. Having left her hometown of Quindio at a young age, she returned to her roots and, with a new point of view, fell in love with the streets she grew up on.
What is your connection to this destination?
Quindio is the place where I was born, but I left at a very young age and came back to live here after thirty years. Although I’d always come to see my family on vacation, it’s another thing to come back completely. In fact, from a creative and affective point of view, it’s been a very powerful life experience. After all, nostalgia places us in another dimension, it makes us more sensitive and receptive to our environment. Traveling to the past has been very healing.
What does Quindio smell like?
Quindio smells of coffee, moss, humid earth, mountains and a river. It has the perfume of exuberant nature, of rain and sun.
What does it taste like?
Like the first morning coffee.
Your best discovery?
The cloud forest of Valle del Cocora, a magical trail where nature is wild. Infinite green kilometers with stretches of sky covered by leaves and giant trees. Small, hand built bridges through which you cross wonderful ravines. Infinite species of birds that enliven the tour. It’s a trip that sharpens all the senses.
What is your favorite activity here?
Visiting the small towns of Quindio: Salento, Pijao and Filandia, and drinking a delicious cup of coffee in their city squares. Watching people go by and finding treasures in the handicraft or used furniture stores.
What was your first impression when arriving?
Although I was born here, I often experience new sensations. I never cease to be amazed by it, especially by the richness and variety of our land. I’m very privileged to have come into the world in such a beautiful place.
If Quindio had a soundtrack, what songs would be included?
Volver, by Andrés Calamaro.
Canción de las simples cosas, by Mercedes Sosa
Father and son, by Cat Stevens.
Love of my Life, by Queen.
Mi viejo, by Piero.
En el último trago, by Chavela Vargas.
A particular memory?
My whole being is connected with every corner of Quindio. The colors of the towns, the coffee plantations and the respect for the land where I grew up. It’s a spiritual connection, it’s my place of belonging, my roots, my safe harbor.
One thing you cannot miss…
If you travel to Quindio, don’t miss the Botanical Garden. It’s a beautiful place, which brings together the diversity of our plants. The butterfly farm is unmissable.
A local meal or drink?
The bandeja paisa is delicious and, of course, a cup of freshly brewed coffee tastes like heaven.
Any advice for the trip?
Be open to meeting the people of the region and enjoying their friendliness and good vibes. This makes it a special destination.
Is there something that few people know about Quindio?
That the Quimbaya Museum exists. After being closed for a long time, it’s a great architectural piece by the master Rogelio Salmona.
What’s the most special thing about Quindio?
Cocora Valley and its infinite forests of wax palms, surrounded by mountains, rivers and ravines. The air that is breathed, the low clouds. It’s an impressive landscape declared by Unesco as a World Heritage Site.
A local word or slang?
‘Quiubo pues’ o ‘quiubo mijo (a’), ‘superchévere’, ‘hágale pues’.
Anything else you would like to add?
To complement the experience and make it unforgettable, there’s nothing better than riding a Willys, touring a coffee plantation and then ending with a coffee tasting on a farm.
What is beauty to you?
It’s that click that connects my emotions with the senses. It’s a certain fullness that breaks with tedium. It’s also a disposition of the soul.
Focusing on life with my camera and giving visual order to chaos, to the colors of everyday life is liberating.