Erganic Travels: Afro-Latino Community in Colombia

04.11.16

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”

Ibn Battuta

 And that’s what we intend to do! We love to travel and experience the glories of God’s work. A good trip will leave you changed for the better. Erganic Living wants to give you a glimpse into our travels and the takeaways we learned from each trip…

My sister and I had a flight voucher to use and needed to decide where we would travel. We wanted to go somewhere that would provide us with a cultural experience. After doing some research, we stumbled upon Cartagena, Colombia. We saw pictures of the beautiful landscapes but that wasn’t what peaked our interest…

Our random Google image searches showed us pictures of people who looked like us. This is what we wanted to see. Other products of the African diaspora.

The Palenqueras selling the freshest fruit ever! They saw us and called out to us… “Sisters!”

We experienced the sandy beaches, and the romantic buildings, the beauties of the old city (see below). But we wanted to see something more real.

Old City Colombia

The highlight of the entire experience was our encounter with Alex Rocha, the founder of The Alex Rocha Youth Centre. We found a tour, The Real Cartagena, that promised to show us the “other” side of Cartagena. The side that tourists rarely visit.

The tour started off with a trip to Getsemaní. Walking distance from our hotel. The old walls of the community were painted with portraits of black women, people were sitting outside on their porches, the plazas were filled with Afro-Latino music. It was exactly where we wanted to be.

Before heading to the barrio where Alex’s youth center was located, we went to a market where we ate with native Colombians and they asked Alex if we were from an Island off of Colombia where people looked like us. Took a mangrove swamp tour where little brown children ran out to the edge of the water to wave and dance (in their birthday suits while Alex playfully sang “No tiene ropas!”). And ate a delicious fried fish and plantain meal by the beach.

Seeing the children at The Alex Youth Center was inspiring. They practiced their English with us, shared with us their favorites activities and foods, and even allowed us to practice our Spanish with them.

Alex is dedicated to giving back to the barrios where he grew up. This was apparent by the passion he exhibited when he talked about the conditions that his people (our people) were living in and how he plans to make a difference.

The goal of The Alex Rocha Youth Center is to keep the youth of the community off and the streets by teaching them social skills, music, arts, and English. The English component is very important. This helps set the youth up for finding jobs in the tourism industry, which is big business in Colombia.

My sister and I went for a getaway and left enlightened about the Afro-Latino experience in Colombia.

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