A Chance Meeting in El Carmen de Viboral

I had the most “magical realism” moment on Tuesday.

I arrived into El Carmen from Bogotá to work on some new projects with our workshop, to get our newest patterns out the door (follow us on instagram for a sneak peek) and to meet with a local foundation investing in IT and English programs in nearby public schools.

I needed to get to Medellín from El Carmen for a meeting the next morning but hadn’t yet scheduled the transport.

For the 90 minute drive from El Carmen to Medellín, private taxis cost more than my plane ticket from Bogotá so the next best option is a public bus that turns a 90 minute drive into a three hour drive. Not ideal, but I don’t yet have my helicopter to reduce the travel time down to 10 minutes (someday).

As I was bemoaning having to take the bus a young woman was purchasing a few pieces of ceramics in the workshop’s storefront. She looked hip, like she probably lived in Medellín, so I asked if she was going to drive down to Medellín and if I could join her?

Kind of brazen but I was getting desperate.

After hesitating for a bit (understandably) she said she'd take down my phone number and call me when she was planning to head out of town and back to Medellín.

An hour later she called and I stuffed myself into her small SUV with four other passengers. The woman in the front seat welcomed me in with a, "quien es esta niña tan hermosa?! Bienvenida!!" (translation: Who is this beautiful young woman?! Welcome!)

Turns out my newfound friends are the granddaughters and great-granddaughter of the guy who FOUNDED the town of El Carmen de Viboral, where our ceramics are made. He was one of the original potters!!

It was…beyond serendipitous. It was brilliant.

The great-granddaughter of the town's founder, who I first approached in the shop, is writing her anthropological thesis on the ceramics tradition of El Carmen. She also lives in Bogotá, like me.

We chatted about the history of the town, the different techniques from one workshop to the other, painters who are branching out on their own and creating new designs, the opportunities for growth and education... We laughed about how everyone has the same reaction when they see the ceramics in person, “that is hand-painted?? By a human??”

It was surreal and a special moment for me - I really needed it. 

Even after two years this journey to start Azulina and get our dinnerware out into the world is still difficult and lonely at times. I am full of self-doubt on some days. It's a blessing to have experiences like this to remind me of my purpose and why I'm doing what I'm doing.

On Tuesday evening as we were winding through the hillsides and going down the steep hill into the valley of Medellín I got my spark back.

Thank you, universe. 

Con Amor,

Melissa

Founder, Azulina Ceramics