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A Columbian Adventure

by Kim Haas

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Bogotá, Columbia

I’m just back from an amazing trip to Columbia. During the 6 days, I visited Bogotá, Cartagena, Palenque San Basilio (Palenque) and Islas Rosario with the Travel Professionals of Color. The visit was designed to introduce travel agents to Columbia and highlight the country’s Afro-Columbian communities. Researchers estimate that between 10-25% of Columbia’s nearly 50 million residents are of African descent.

Columbia is a country at the northern tip of South America. It’s one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world counting the greatest number of bird species on the planet, whale watching along its Pacific Coast, rainforests, Andes mountains, portions of the Amazon River and coffee plantations among its borders.
In the center of the country, Bogotá, the country’s high altitude capital, is home to 8 million people. Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast, has a walled colonial Old Town, a 16th-century castle and coral reefs. And Palenque, about an hour’s drive southeast of Cartagena, was settled by Benkos Bioho, a runaway enslaved African, in the 16th Century. In 2005, Palenque, a town of 3,000 residents, with its own distinct language called Palenquero and customs, was declared a  Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
 Final Map

A heartfelt thank you to the sponsors, hosts and everyone who contributed their time, talent and hours to make this trip possible.

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Cartagena, Columbia

Food in colombia

Tasty delights at Hotel Charleston in Cartagena and savory empanadas at a Bogotá pub.

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Sponsors and Hosts: Avianca; Travel Professionals of Color (Betty and Colin Jones) with Edwin (center) from Hotel Sonesta (Bogotá); Juliana, Gema Tours; and Luciana Cherques, Downtown Travel; Juliana, Gema Tours and Yahaira Lopez, Avianca.

Hotel Intercontinental

InterContinental Hotel (Cartagena)

 Estelar Windsor House Hotel (Bogotá) – Fernando
Hotel Estelar

Estelar Windsor House Hotel (Bogotá) – Ricardo

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Crystal clear waters of Islas Rosario, an hour boat ride from Cartagena.

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Each year, Columbia observes AfroColombian Day on May 21. The annual commemoration celebrates the contributions of Afro-Columbians and the official abolition of slavery in the country in 1851. Kim and Miriam Padilla of M Travel and Events, Yahaira Lopez and Luciana Cherques; Travel Professionals of Color and residents of Palenque.

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New friends in Bogotá (Mariela Palacios, Maria Jose Gomez and husband, Antonio Posada); resident of Palenque; and guide, Marelvy Peña-Hall in Cartagena.  (Photo of mural courtesy of Kim Haas, Jan. 2015)

Kim Haas (VHB headshot)

Kim Haas, Founder, Los Afro- Latinos

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