A new book on Colombia, Misspelled Paradise: A Year in a Reinvented Colombia, is available in paperback and Kindle eBook on amazon.com. UK residents, head over the book’s page on amazon.co.uk and for Canadian readers, amazon.ca. Misspelled Paradise is also available to residents of Australia, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, and more.
Stretches of warm Caribbean beaches. Donkeys trotting down muddy roads. Vibrant cities alive with music, color, and humanity.
If you’re looking for a book about Colombia that involves harrowing escapes from FARC guerrillas or tales of drug smuggling…this is not it. Instead, this book gives an honest and lighthearted look at the history, culture, and diversity of a country that may be struggling with poverty and a civil conflict, but celebrates its joy with blasting street parties named after the stacks of amplifiers, tiny watery beers, and a never-ending parade of beauty contestants.
As a volunteer middle school English teacher in an impoverished Colombian Caribbean community, Bryanna Plog recounts with dry humor her year traveling Colombia’s cities, deserts, and rainforests (fairly successful ventures), her attempts to hold class on a regular schedule (less successful), and her quest to eat meals that didn’t include rice (a complete and utter failure).
From the high rises of Bogotá, to the small island town of Santa Ana, from the deserts of the Guajira peninsula and the northern-most part of South America, to the jungles of the Amazon rainforest in the south, learn, be surprised, and laugh out loud as you journey through a reinvented Colombia.
Praise for Misspelled Paradise
“Back when I was leaving the US for a year in Latin America as a volunteer, I would have done anything for a book like Bryanna Plog’s. … Misspelled Paradise is that rare treasure: a book you can hold in your hands, that you can take with you on a bus or a plane; a story with a beginning, middle and end. … An important read for any American thinking about heading to Colombia or anywhere else to be a temporary expat.”
— Alden Jones, author of travelogue The Blind Masseuse, named Best Travel Book of 2013 by The Huffington Post
“Bryanna Plog has crafted a masterpiece with Misspelled Paradise. A true story filled with adventure, vivid imagery, and humor… she manages to make the pages come alive as if the reader is actually there along for the ride. I learned a lot about Colombia from Bryanna’s book, and I am very glad that I had the chance to experience this amazing woman’s story…. A truly amazing read!”
— Jason Sinner, book editor at eprintedbooks.com
I recommend this book. The story kept me engaged and reading. It is an enjoyable read, not too deep, and just funny enough that you want to see what is next.
— Chuck Prevatte, writer and blogger at amateurtravel.com. (Read the full review here)
Plog’s story is a nice impression of Colombia. Moreover, she does not pretend to be comprehensive; it is mainly about her own direct experience with occasional general backgrounds. Her painting of Santa Ana is so much the better, and in addition written with love and wonder. Her breezy writing style makes the book easy to read and you find Plog – as an English a teacher focused on language – can really write.
— La Chispa (Read the full review in Dutch here)
“Misspelled Paradise is a well-written and uncomplicated read, and one which zips by easily…Bryanna Plog has a delightfully understated wit, and faces many of the less agreeable aspects of moving off the tourist tracks with good humour and, eventually, affection… Thoroughly enjoyable… If I was a traveller intent on visiting Colombia, I would consider it a must-read.”
— Ellie Hall, book blogger at elliehallstoryteller.blogspot.com.au. (Read the full review here)
“Excellent coverage of this beautiful country, Misspelled Paradise brings Colombia to life with its descriptions of the sights, sounds, and smells of everyday life. A mix of storytelling and travelogue, Bryanna covers the highs and lows of teaching and travelling around the country along with well-researched background on everything you need to know. … A fun and entertaining read!”
— Frank Thomae, travel blogger and writer at bbqboy.net
Why Write a Humorous Travel Book on Colombia?
Before I left for Colombia, I was surprised how few books focused on regular life for 21st century Colombians. While there were guide books listing off the best beaches (including the one just down the dirt tract where I lived) and while journalists, historians, and politicians have all probed into the reasons for paramilitaries, cartels, drug violence, and corruption, there were few books where I could just sit down and get a portrait of the country.
And so I thought, if I would have liked to read a lighthearted but honest look at Colombia, there might be more people wanting the same. The idea became the book Misspelled Paradise.
I knew almost nothing about the country before my plane landed at the El Dorado Airport in Bogotá back in January 2011; my students, colleagues, neighbors, and friends showed me their country and I haven’t stopped learning since. The book is not a political analysis of the the state of Colombia’s progress since the height of violence in the 1990s; that progress is simply revealed in the lives of ordinary Colombians today.
Through my travels, explorations, and work with the youth of Colombia, I found a country of humor, hope, and happiness.