South of the Americas
To close out the year, I decided on a trip to Colombia. My flight however stops over in San Salvador, El Salvador for 12hours on my way to and from Colombia. What to do with 12 hours layover in San Salvador? Well, I took a taxi to a hostel to nap in a real bed, met up with a couchsufer and went to El Boqueron National Park. The trail is beautiful, I got to see a volcano (first time ever). We later went to a restaurant on our way from the national park. The restaurant is great in that you can see the view of San Salvador. I love it! And the food was great too!
Initially, I wasn’t too happy with the layover in El Salvador. It was one of those countries I vowed never to return. I had a s****y experience way back in 2010. However, I’m now glad I had the opportunity to have a positive experience.
Now, I am in Colombia. I haven’t visited since August 2012 so it was about time. I decided to visit Cartagena (my first time since 2009). I stayed in Marbella area – directly in front of the beach and about 15mins walk to the walled city. It was my first time using Airbnb and I was pretty impressed. I met up with a guy from my contact who happens to be tour guide. He took me to his hood – they say it is the most dangerous part of Cartagena. Evidence to that, as we arrive, the police were breaking up a fight with tear gas. Anyways, I met his beautiful family and enjoyed great conversation with them. The next day, I met up with him at his organization. He has an organization that teaches children English and mentor them. You should check out the Alex Rocha Youth Center. I saw him nurture the creative side of the kids.
I visited Palenke de San Basilio – about 1.5hour from Cartagena. The people of Palenke are descendants of enslaved African that escaped to freedom. The colonial government couldn’t fight the people of Palenke so a treaty was signed. Overall, I had a great time in Cartagena that made me wonder why it took me so long to return. I also met up with a couchsurfer for drinks.
Currently, I’m in Bogota. I never loved Bogota until I came for an internship in 2011. But as soon as I left the airport, I question why I am here. It was cold! The thing about the cold in Bogota is that the building do not have a heating system so you are cold indoors as well. The faucet is just cold water so your hands are freezing when brushing your teeth or washing dishes #1stworldproblems. Anyways, I used Airbnb again and I was once again impressed. For USD$19/night, I got a studio to myself with everything I need! What more can a girl ask for? The place is also close to a transmileno station (subway transport).
I met up with my BFF Christmas Eve. I don’t celebrate Christmas but she insisted on making a tradition Colombian feast. Plus, I got to see her two months old twins :).
It has been great meeting up with friends here in Bogota. But, Note to self: no need to spend 5 days in Bogota when there are warm places in Colombia to be such as Cali, San Andres or Cartagena.
I’m off on yet another adventure. Spending NYE and New Year in another South American country. Details of this trip coming soon :).
Grateful for 2014, I had the opportunity to start 2014 in Ivory Coast and visited Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Republic of Benin, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Cuba, El Salvador and Colombia. Although, 2014 had mostly been visiting countries I have been before (except Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso & Jamaica). It was truly an honor to connect again.
I’m looking forward to 2015. Memorable trips are being planned :).
Until next time…..
Happy New Year. Wishing you all the fabulous things the universe is offering………
And thank you for reading my blog 🙂 :).
!!!!For You the Only Risk is Wanting to Stay BUT for Them, Several Risks Exist!!!!
So it’s already the end of my internship. I was officially done on Friday and I left Bogota Saturday morning for Medellin. It was great to see friends that I haven’t seen in almost two years. As usual Juliana and Lexie’s family were great. We went to la feria de las flores which is a big deal here in the state of Antioquia. Aah, we went pole dancing today, it was hard work – my legs and arms soar really bad now.
My last few weeks in Bogota was amazing, I met more interesting people at the end of my stay. I met other Africans too; a guy from Nigeria and another from Chad cool, right? I also went to Tumaco with my job for a workshop; Tumaco is a very beautiful place, warm climate and great people. Lot of military presence though, apparently it’s the consolidation center for Plan Colombia.
Well back to Bogota, I attended a dance presentation by the Afro-group called PALENKE; I believe you can look them up on YouTube – they are amazing I tell you! It was sad to leave to Bogota; there I experienced very great things as well as bad things. For instance, Bogota was the first place I was robbed and the first place I was called a fucking Nigger. For the good things – I was blessed to meet amazing people, learn about the issues of the black population of Colombia and interview great people.
In case you don’t already know, there are black people in Colombia; in fact Colombia has the third largest population of Black people in the Americas after Brazil and U.S.A. The black folks of Colombia experience a profound type of discrimination, in my opinion different from that of the U.S.A in that they fare worst and are invisibility in Colombia. With the issues of displacement, the blacks are disproportional affected, of the 3 million displaced, more than 1 million are blacks. With the 1991 constitution, blacks (as well as indigenous people) of Colombia were officially recognized, ancestral land were titled to black communities starting in December 1996, which unfortunately collided with the entry of armed conflict between the guerrillas, paramilitaries and the army into the black communities. Since then, blacks have been displaced with little attention given to their situation by the Colombian government.
So the next time you visit Colombia, do not get carried away. The Blacks of Colombia are way more than the dancing you see in Cartagena, they constitute almost 40% of the Colombian population and yet rank lower than the rest in terms of social and economic indicators. So it would be great to think of them when you are in Colombia and if you can, get involved. Some organizations working with the Black Colombians includes AFRODES, Cimarron, PCN and C.N.O.A. Hence the title of the blog.
Tomorrow I leave for Central America.