This trip explores the craft and cultures of Colombia’s Caribbean Coast. We begin in Cartagena, to explore this fascinating port city, to learn about the mix of cultures and people of this region; from the Zenu, the Spaniards and slaves from Africa, Cartagena today is a blend of its past, present and future. We’ll enjoy an overview of the people, crafts and cultures of Colombia with the fine folks at Artesanias de Colombia and a fascinating visit to Cartagena’s Gold Museum to see their recently opened new exhibition on the relationships between humans and plant and animal life. We have a lot to learn from the ancient and living Zunu people. Today, the Zenu people weave the iconic “sombrero vueltiao”, from a cane grass, that has become the symbol of Colombia. After exploring Cartegena, we’ll explore further afield, traveling along the Caribbean Coast to Barranquilla, Santa Marta, Riohacha. We’ll meet with members of the indigenous communities around the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and in La Guajira, we’ll meet with the Wayuu women who will share their culture and traditional crafts.
Day One: Arrive in Cartagena, Meet at Airport, Transfer to Hotel in the Walled City, Welcome Dinner (D)
Depending on arrival time, you will be able to stroll in Cartagena to begin to get a feel for this beautiful and historically fascinating walled city on the Caribbean Sea. Given its location and entry port to South America, this city was very important to the Spanish colonizers, as well as pirates from England and France, who also wanted some of the spoils. Cartagena was also a primary port of entry for slaves brought from West Africa. We’ll explore this dark history, and better understand the present-day landscape of this multicultural and bustling city.
Day Two: Exploring Cartagena! (B, L)
We’ll spend the day exploring colonial Cartagena to learn about its history and visit highlights, including the extraordinary Museo del Oro Zenu, to learn about the Zenu people, their past and present day relationship with their surrounding land, flora and fauna. The Zenu artisans are the people who make the famed “sombrero vueltiao”, a symbol of Colombia. We will make a special visit to Artesanias de Colombia, to review of the crafts of Colombia and of course, an expoventa of some of the finest pieces in the country. We’ll enjoy lunch to experience regional cuisine, while we tour the mural art in the Afro-Caribbean neighborhood of Getsemani. In the evening, we’ll step out to the famed and beautiful Cafe del Mar, one of the best spots, overlooking the Caribbean Sea, on top of one of the old sea walls of Cartagena. (not included, but we’ll gather there!) I can almost feel the breezes now. Energy permitting, we’ll visit one of the fun salsa, cumbia bars so famous in Cartagena, such as Havana Club.
Day Three: San Basilio Palenque and San Jacinto! (B, L)
Today we make our way south of Cartagena to visit two nearby communities. San Basilio Palenque is where the very first “cimarrones”, freed slaves, settled and began their own community. Given its historic significance, it was given a UNESCO World Heritage designation. Today, the community thrives, and educates visitors in their historic struggle, their preservation of traditions in music, dance, art and the famed “cantadoras” women who sang and sing the narratives of their past. We will enjoy lunch here, before departing to our second community: San Jacinto.
In San Jacinto we will learn about the famed “Gaiteros de San Jacinto”, a musical genre, that made an award winning appearance at the Grammys. Also in San Jacinto, we’ll meet the renowned weavers, who, on a vertical loom weave their traditional hammocks, and also create their ikat patterns. I hope we all return with a hammock! Return to Cartagena for overnight.
Day Four: Barranquilla and Santa Marta! (B, L)
Leaving Cartagena, we make our way along the Caribbean Coast of Colombia. Our first stop is in Barranquilla, famous for its Carnival! In fact, we’ll visit the Museo Casa del Carnaval, to learn about the historic roots of the carnaval tradition, how it’s celebrated world wide and its colorful and festive tradition in Barranquilla. We are inviting some of the special wood carved mask makers from Galapa to join us and to give us a demonstration and expoventa! After our Museum visit, we make our way to Santa Marta, where we’ll enjoy a lovely lunch by the ocean. After lunch, we’ll stroll and visit the historic center of Santa Marta, enjoy a specially arranged presentation of the ethnographic landscape and craft of this region, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Here, the ancestral Arhuaco, Kogi, Tayrona, Kancuamo people lived and still do today. Evening at leisure.
Day Five: Santa Marta to Riohacha (B, L)
Today we make our way to Riohacha, land and capital of the Wayuu people. Arriving, we’ll spend time strolling on the seaside malecon, where the Wayuu women set up stands to view their beautiful dresses and mochilas. We’ve identified who some of the finest weavers are, representing groups of over 60 women. We’ll enjoy a delicious seafood meal, before traveling a short distance to a “Rancheria”, community where the Wayuu people live. We’ll learn about their matrilineal culture, singular traditions, fierce cultural resistance and ways of life.
Day Six: Riohacha – Uribia – Riohacha (B, L)
Today we go deeper into the Wayuu country / region and visit the community of Uribia. Here, we’ll meet one of the great master artisans and teachers Conchita, to learn about their evolution from traditional weavers to sophisticated artisans and designers, whose work has been showcased on the world stage of fashion and design. They continue to push the envelope, while fiercely maintaining their traditional techniques and design motif elements. The Wayuu women of La Guajira are now famous for their work and their mochila cottage industry is what sustains them and their families.
Day Seven: Palomino (B, L)
Today we begin our journey back to Cartagena. We stop midway in Palomino, a beautiful seaside destination, to enjoy the evening. This is an unspoiled coastal region, where walking on the beach, swimming in the ocean, watching the sunset in a hammock, are the “activities”!
Day Eight: Return to Cartagena, Overnight Cartagena and Farewell Dinner (B, D)
After breakfast, and perhaps one last swim on the beach or in the large swimming pool, we make our final trek back to Cartagena. We’ll stop on the shores of the mighty Magdalenas River to enjoy a very fun food court experience, offering all kinds of choices for lunch; from traditional to international food.
Arriving in Cartagena, we’ll settle for our last night in the city, enjoy free time to walk, visit one last place, before we join for our fun and beautiful farewell dinner overlooking one of the bays / ports of Cartagena at the Club de Pesca.
Day Nine: Transfer for flights out or extend in Cartagena or elsewhere in Colombia! (B)