Hola!! Cartagena was amazing!! I am currently having withdrawals to be honest. I really wish I could have extended my trip (insert sad face here).
The next time I go to Colombia (because there will definitely be a next time) I think I will visit other cities such as Medellin, Cali, and Bogota before heading back to Cartagena. I want to see which city I like the best because so far Cartagena stole my heart. I went to the Rosario Islands, specifically, Isla del Sol, I did a city tour of Cartagena, visited Bocagrande, and ate all the food I possibly could and I still did not get to do everything I wanted to do! Yet, I knew that there was one thing I had to do before I left and that was to go to Palenque!
Palenques are villages that still maintain the cultures and traditions of the escaped African slaves that were brought to the country hundreds of years agoI planned to go the day before I left and I am glad I did because for me it was the best part of my trip and I actually met some really great people on my tour.
I had the best tour guide by the name of Alex Rocha. He escorted several of us to Palenque de San Basilio. It is one of the last Palenque villages left in Northern Colombia. The Africans in Palenque de San Basilio were the first free Africans in the Americas.
I have never felt more comfortable walking through a community. I felt so calm and at peace. It felt so good to see the elders sitting outside of their houses talking to others and watching people walk by, the younger folk sitting outside playing dominoes and drinking beers, and small children playing in the streets. It just so happened that one of the teenagers in the village passed away earlier that day, so it was quite a somber day. But even through their grieving everyone was so warm, loving, and embracing. I am definitely going to Palenque anytime I go to Cartagena and I am going to give back to the community each time. They made my heart smile.
So you’re probably wondering why I named this blog Foreign Country Stigma, right? Well, be honest, would you have known that Colombia was this beautiful if you didn’t see these pictures? Would you have gone if you had not read about my experience? Most people still will probably not visit this amazing country and that is fine; but whatever you do, do not let the fear of the unknown stop you from doing anything in life!
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear Colombia? People usually think danger and drugs. Which is why I didn’t take offense to people looking at me funny when I told them I was going on vacation in Colombia. If I listened to all the fears other people have about countries that I visit or want to visit, I’d still be sitting in New York on my couch window shopping on Expedia!
Everywhere I go, I go with GOD. Therefore, I am always protected and because He protects me I can’t let the fear of others keep me from living my life. Don;t get me wrong sometimes I get anxiety about traveling too but as you’ve read in my previous blog post, fear is the devil and I decided to push through fear of the unknown and I suggest you take the same advice! Live life because you only have one! So many countries have bad stigma’s attached to them and it keeps people from exploring the beauty that the country and its culture has to offer! Don’t sell yourself short! No living in fear for 2016 and forever!
I’m traveling again soon, so I’ll be back before you know it. 😉