The infectious vallenato music is thumping out from almost every corner. An open-air party bus passes by the palm-lined street and the smell of the Caribbean Sea is heavy in the air. It’s Friday night in Santa Marta and things are starting to get down. Like many other places in Colombia, years ago this scene would have never existed. Drugs and prostitutes ruled the crumbling colonial streets here in the very same places where, today, vendors sell beach chairs and sarongs to tourists passing through.
Posts tagged ‘photo-essay’
Santa Cruz de Mompox, or simply Mompox (spelled also Mompos/j), could certainly be considered one of the roads less traveled and one that contains many treasures for those willing to seek it out. This historic city, which lies on the Rio Magdalena, is far removed from main roads, making getting here an adventure in itself. The 16th century colonial architecture is extremely well preserved and earned the city a nod from UNESCO back in 1995.
The driver, if you could call him that, swerved precipitously around yet another car followed by a truck, passing on the right,. Yes, you read that correctly, on the right! He must have been going about 95 mph on a curve! Passing on the right during a curve!! Didn’t he ever see those trucks indicating which side was okay for passing and which wasn’t? Apparently not.
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.
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.
Pisco, sand dunes and ancient, mysterious lines carved into the desert floor. These are the first things that come to mind when I think of the southern Peruvian coast. The area around Ica, Peru offers up some striking sand dunes that will make you feel like you are in the Sahara.
We took a plane from La Paz, Bolivia down south to the Bolivian wine country to a city called Tarija. The south of Bolivia often gets slighted by the more famous and larger cities in the country like Sucre or La Paz. If you find yourself tired of the dirt, noise or high altitude associated with these other locales, why not hop on a quick flight to sunny, laid-back Tarija and its surrounds? Vineyards, bodegas, and dry desert rural valleys are calling you!
After exploring Llachon, we headed over to Copacabana, Bolivia. You can read all about our time on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca here. From Puno in Peru it is inexpensive and easy to catch a bus to Copacabana, Bolivia. If you pay a little more, you can have a tourist bus but it’s not really necessary. The trip will take you about 3 hours or maybe a little more depending on how busy the border crossing is. For a pretty inefficient country, we found the Bolivian border here surprisingly efficient!
Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, sitting at an altitude of 3,812 m (12,507 ft). Its ownership is shared by both Bolivia which has the eastern part of the lake and Peru to the west. For land-locked Bolivia, this is the next best thing to being at the ocean and like many places in Bolivia, it is steeped in rich history and legend.