In Partnership with Ethnomusicologist Jacob Edgar
Available on a Custom Basis
Music is one of the most vibrant cultural expressions. And in Colombia, it is a defining cultural attribute. From the mesmerizing marimba rhythms of the Pacific Coast, the Gaiteros de San Jacinto, the Vallenato and the upbeat rhythms of the Caribbean (champeta and mapale), it is hard to sit still in this country! It is even said, that for a young man from Cali, he has a slim chance at finding a wife, if he does not dance salsa! Come with us on this journey to explore the vibrant, historic, traditional and contemporary sounds and rhythms of Colombia. We’ll go to Barranquilla, home of Shakira, and we’ll visit her pioneering foundation, “Fundacion Piez Descalzos”, dedicated to providing life changing education to young girls of Colombia. We’ll dance and ride bikes in this sea-side community, just as she and Carlos Vives did in the fantastically fun video “La Bicicleta”. Join us on this rhythmic journey and let your body and soul sway to the “Rhythms of Colombia”!
The Rhythms of Colombia: Pacific to Caribbean
Please arrive one day early!
Day One: Thursday, Introduction to the History of Salsa Music in Cali (B, L)
Today is dedicated to an orientation to Cali, and the vibrant tradition of Salsa Music in this Colombian city. We’ll begin with a walking tour to get our bearings, while we focus on the history and musical highlights of this tropical City, capital of the Valle de Cauca department (state). After learning some of the history and important protagonists of this musical genre, from Cuba, we’ll try some steps ourselves and some of Cali’s iconic dance clubs!
Day Two: Friday, Introduction: History Salsa Dancing in Cali (B, L)
Now that we know more about salsa music, today we will immerse in the topic of dancing and how and why Cali became the global epicenter for salsa dancing. Groups such as Swing Latino have put the “Caleno” style of salsa dancing on the global map. In Cali, these famed dance troupes move at a rapid-fire fast pace and steps, and we’ll learn why! We’ll also learn about how salsa dancing has helped the Cali youth emerge from the barrios, with a great new focus and passion. At night we will visit the wonderful musical and dance extravaganza called “Delirio” (delirium!). Overnight Cali.
Day Three: Saturday, Introduction to the Music of the Afro-Pacific and the Marimba de Palma Chonta (B, L)
Today, we shift gears and begin our understanding and appreciation of the singular marimba music and style from Pacific Colombia. Here, the marimba de “palma chonta” reins. Palma chonta is a particular type of palm tree that produces a wood that is used to make the marimba. The sounds the wood and the musicians produces is mesmerizing and unlike any other marimba genre. We’ll learn about its history, among other instruments and rhythms of Pacific Colombia, and we’ll even enjoy our own hands-on percussion and marimba workshop! Other activities today include tasting the delicious Afro-Pacific cuisine (coconut milk, fresh coriander, sea food and fish), and we’ll also get an introduction to the craft traditions of Colombia. Our day will end with a special evening, musical event at the Casa de la Cultura!
Day Four: Sunday, Transfer to Buenaventura (B, L)
Immersing even deeper into the region, we’ll travel to the bustling port town of Buenaventura (good adventure!) We’ll be welcomed to the Coast, by one of the region’s famed marimba bands! We’ll then transfer by boat to Bahia Malaga, where we’ll enjoy a regional lunch, a light hike to visit the Wounaan indigenous people, before returning to our cabin for an evening of marimba de “palma chonta” and dinner by the ocean.
Day Five: Monday, Buenaventura – Barranquilla (B, L)
Awaking in our seaside cabins, we’ll enjoy the morning immersing in nature. This could be whale watching (seasonal), bird watching or swimming in the ocean. We’ll enjoy lunch and a final hurrah of our beloved marimba de palma chonta rhythms before we say goodbye to the Pacific and take our flights to the Caribbean Coast; Barranquilla.
Day Six: Tuesday, Barranquilla – Cartagena (B)
We’ll explore our new environment on the Caribbean Coast, Barranquilla, known for its famed Carnival, Shikira, Carlos Vives and the wonderful Museo del Caribe! We’ll learn about the “vallenato” rhythm and how world famous Carlos Vives went back to his traditional Colombian roots, and embraced the vallenato sounds, before making his own, unique footprint on the musical world. We’ll enjoy the upbeat song, “La Bicicleta” by Carlos Vives and Shakira, before we hop on our own bikes to ride along the “malecon” of Barranquilla. We’ll visit Shakira’s foundation, Pies Descalzos (Barefeet), dedicated to education for young girls of Colombia. We’ll transfer to Cartagena and enjoy a cocktail overlooking the Caribbean Ocean at Cafe del Mar.
Day Seven: Wednesday, Cartagena (B, L)
Today we’ll explore Cartagena and its highlights. In the afternoon, we’ll have our first introduction to the multiple rhythms of Colombia’s Caribbean region. Our afternoon is at leisure, before heading out to dance on the town! the Cumbia, Champeta, Mapala rhythms will be pulsating at Cartagena’s famed dance clubs!
Day Eight, Thursday, San Jacinto, Gaitero de San Jacinto (1.5) and San Basilio Palenque, Overnight Cartagena (B, L)
Just outside of Cartagena, we’ll travel to San Jacinto, to learn of the musical genre and Grammy Award winning, Gaiteros de San Jacinto. We’ll enjoy lunch before visiting the singular community of San Basilio Palenque. We’ll learn of the history of this first cimarron town, founded by Benkos Biohio, who led African slaves to their freedom. They developed their own language and music. Returning to Cartagena, our evening is at leisure.
Day Nine: Friday, Cartagena – San Andres – Reggae! (B, L)
The next two days will take on an entirely different “vibe”! By traveling to the two islands off the coast of Colombia: San Andres and Providencia, we’ll learn about and experience yet another dimension of Colombia’s musical heritage and expressions. On these islands, calypso and reggae music fill the air, and we’ll have special meetings with some of the top musicians here.
Day Ten: Saturday, San Andres to Providencia (B, L)
Our highlight today is to spend it with a leading recording artist, Elkin Robinson. His soft style and approachable ballads are reminiscent of a Jack Johnson style. We’ll want to sway with the rhythms and palm trees; maybe find a hammock and chill with the sounds of this English speaking island.
Day Eleven: Sunday, Providencia – San Andres – Cartagena – Overnight Cartagena (B)
Day Twelve: Monday, Return Flights Home
4 Nights Cali
1 Nights Buenaventura
1 Night Barranquilla
3 Nights Cartagena
1 Night San Andres
1 Night Providencia
Total Nights: 12