PMHS grad Jordan Salama to publish book on trip down Colombia’s mighty Magdalena River


Jordan Salama and his new book.

Pelham Memorial High School and Princeton University alum Jordan Salama spent a good portion of his college career trying to decide what types of writing he liked doing. It was not till he traveled to Colombia and wrote his thesis about the Magdalena River that he discovered his passion. Salama’s travel book, “Every Day the River Changes: Four Weeks Down the Magdalena,” comes out on Nov. 16 and will be his first published.

In freshman year, Salama had the opportunity to travel to Colombia. While visiting, locals constantly urged him to visit the country’s most important river, the Magdalena. Once he realized he wanted to write his thesis about a place, he decided Colombia would make an ideal subject.

“I went back to my notebooks from that first trip… And if I wanted to write something about Colombia or understand Colombia, I should do it by meeting people that live along this river,” said Salama.

He returned in 2018 and spent time living with the locals on the Magdalena.

“This older man was a master (goldsmith),” said Salama. “He spent all his time weaving silver fishes, earrings and flowers, but nobody came to buy his things. Because when the Magdalena stopped becoming navigable, customers stopped showing up to his small town. And for 60 or 70 years, he kept making these jewels, and they were piling up. He told me it was because he ‘lived and loved with his work.’ That made me realize that everybody has a passion in life, and that it is a really special feeling when you find that passion”.

After Salama presented his thesis to a panel of professors, he was approached by one with the idea of taking all his short stories and combining them into one book. The professor helped Salama get in contact with a literary agent in New York City.

Jordan Salama

“One thing led to another, and we started submitting the manuscript to publishers,” he said. “Lots of people turned it down, and then we got lucky.”

Salama has also had articles published in the New York Times, National Geographic and other publications. He is the co-founder of Princeton Tonight, Lulus TV and created a short documentary, “From Exile to Exodus: The Story of the Jews in Iraq.”

With Princeton Tonight, “I realized I was most comfortable interviewing, asking people about their stories and their lives,” he said. “In articles, a lot of what I write about is based off of interviews from people. And the same thing goes for this book. This book is filled with voices of the local people I met.”

Once the book is out on shelves, Salama hopes he can have in-person events to discuss his work with readers.

“Every country has its challenges, but what I hope people take away from this book is that we should understand those challenges while also understanding what everyday life is like for regular people and how most people are trying to work towards a better future for their country,” said Salama.

“Every Day the River Changes: Four Weeks Down the Magdalena” will be available in bookstores, libraries and on Amazon and other online stores, though Salama would prefer people buy it from local independent bookstores.

Preorder the book online or wait till Nov. 16 to see in stores.