Laurent and I arrived in Cartagena, Colombia on April 29, 2014. This was to be the start of the second half of our Latin American journey and we couldn’t have picked a better place to begin! Bold, colorful and simply irresistible, it’s sure to win over even the most critical traveler.
After we traveled up the Peruvian southern coast back to Lima, we took a flight back to our respective countries-first stopping in New York-my home. We arrived just in time for Thanksgiving. Laurent spent a week with me in NY visiting friends/family before he returned to France. This was the first stop in what was to be our planned, long break from traveling in South America.
We traveled north up the Peruvian Pacific coast, first stopping at the Islas Balestas near the town of Paracas, followed by the Afro-Peruvian village of El Carmen which lies in the province of Chincha. Peru has many influences including Italian, Spanish, Japanese and African. Chincha and especially El Carmen are at the center of Afro-Peruvian culture. From native drumming on the cajon (a drum made out of a box) to African-inspired unique dishes, you can feel the rhythm in this dusty yet charming town.
The history of El Carmen dates back many years ago when the Africans first immigrated to Peru and were enslaved to work on local haciendas (farm estates). The culture was born out of that time and has remained strong today. Afro-Peruvian dancing and music, exemplified by festivals like the Verano Negra or the Festival de Danzas Negras (held in February & November, respectively), remain at the core of El Carmen.