An Instagram account is interviewing mixed race people across South America to highlight the migrant population across the continent.
Filled with a exciting and yet quiet wisdom, he told me about his African and Spanish ancestors. He also told me about what shaped his soul more than his blood: Travels. "Travels teach you all the lessons: How to enjoy all the people, how to enjoy all the places. Because all the places and all the people are worth it. We are all wise. Inside."
The #Lookingformezclas project — "mezclas" meaning medley or mix in Spanish — features photos and interviews with South Americans of mixed heritage.
It took me a few minutes to actually get something from Jonathan, a half German Jewish and Colombian Catholic guy. He finally told me that he's more of an agnostic now, started talking about the pineal gland and how you're connected to the threes, in a half mumbled slangy Spanish, consumed by modesty, dignity, or both.
The project's creator, Hugo Amsellem, is traveling across Central America, interviewing people along the way, and asking them about their roots.
When I entered David's restaurant in Salento, I was almost certain I would get a new story. Big green eyes, light hair and eastern Europe skin tone. There had to be a mix there. When I asked David why he looked like a Russian soccer player, he told me it came from his biological dad, that he neither never knew nor knows anything about. A ghost. Chances are he's not Colombian, but there's no way he can be sure. He was raised by his Colombian mother in Cali and moved to Salento to open a restaurant, a skillful conducted one.
Sometimes people confuse him with a tourist and start addressing him in English, which he doesn't mind: "It gets me to practice!" What about the girls? It's pretty rare to have a "Mono" (blond) look and still be Colombian! "Girls? I'm extremely unlucky at that…" He's 24, the tide has time to turn :)
Amsellem told BuzzFeed News that his personal heritage led to the creation of the project.
Our grandfather was from Germany, or Greece. We don't really know as he was abandoned. Our grandmother is 100% Negrita! She's 97, still alive and kicking :)" That's how they got their "moreno" look and they're proud about it: "Morenos tienen sabor"
"I'm the result of a mix between a Jewish Moroccan father and a Catholic French mother." He said. "When I started traveling I met other mixed people and we started talking about our quests for identity, asking the question: 'But who/what am I?' "
Amsellem also believes his project comments on the current refugee crisis affecting Europe.
"I'm clearly feeling closer to the black culture, even if my mom's white. Especially because of the music. It hasn't always been like that, I used to care less, but it's hard to identify to the white Spaniard culture as it's less strong, less distinctive."
"We are all migrants from somewhere, sometime. Because we have a problem with the new migrants in Europe and the US, and we forget that our ancestors where all migrants that mixed to create what we are today," he said.
Sarita quickly had the time to tell me that her father was white, before her Morena mother got a bit suspicious, thinking that I would trick them into paying for the photo, and then decided to walk away!
Whilst the project currently only features Colombia, Amsellem said that over the next few months it will expand across Latin America as he travels.
This is where Raul Estefan was chilling, like many other people. He's a mix from an indigenous mother and a white father, but he's feeling that these identities are even less strong than the regionalism around here: "Seriously, people identify themselves more with their region and anything else in Colombia, it's annoying. I'd love a future where nobody cares what region they where born in, without this weird feeling of superiority associated. To me, it's definitely a form of racism, of separation."
Rachael Krishna is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Rachael Krishna at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.