While in Salento, the coffee region town where we toured Don Elias’s farm, we also went for a hike in the Valle de Cocora, home to enormous palm trees as well as rushing waterfalls, ten-mile views, and jewel-toned hummingbirds. At a nature preserve within the valley, we put our photography skills to the test trying to capture these beautiful but frenetic birds in our viewfinder. More often than not, the image that appears on our screen is of an empty branch or a lone birdfeeder. On occasion a blur of color acts as proof that there was indeed a hummingbird in the vicinity. We are, for certain, not going to win any awards for our wildlife photography.
We are, however, able to snap a photo of the three youngest members of the family that runs the preserve. The kids are happy to smile in exchange for a look at the image of themselves that we have captured. Though I don’t know for certain, it seems that this family spends nearly every day and every night on this preserve, tucked away in the clouds. As we pass the camera around for the kids to view, the matriarch of the family, an elderly woman whom I assume to be the grandmother if not the great-grandmother, comes over to take a look. She’d been talking to Jeff earlier, asking him about us and telling him about the preserve and its efforts to preserve the region’s water source. She peers hard at the viewfinder and smiles. She then turns to the children and with a big grin exclaims to them, “Now you’re going to America!” They look bewildered. I, at first, have no idea what she’s talking about. But then, as she hands back the camera, the image of the three kids staring back at us from the screen, I realize what she means, and I laugh. She beams at us, proud of her joke. And with that, we say our goodbyes, waving back at the same three smiling kids that we were taking with us to America.