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Thursday, November 02, 2017

Checking Out Cartagena and the Rosario Islands on My College Break

Guest Post and Photo by Sophie Basseches 
 
A few weeks ago, during my 5-day fall break from college, I was lucky enough to go on an adventure. I journeyed all the way to Colombia to visit my brother who is teaching English at a school there. I know, it seems kind of crazy to go so far for such a short period of time, but it was amazing! 
 
My brother is stationed in Barranquilla. One look at the city and you can tell it’s not an ideal tourist destination. Instead, my brother, his two friends, and I took a 2-hour bus ride over to the old walled city of Cartagena. From $5 dollar vegan brunches to 4 am salsa dancing, this city has everything a newbie to the country could want. Cartagena is the perfect mix of beauty and culture, quite appealing to a college student like myself. 
 
Cartagena is also not too far from some other interesting destinations. On our second day in the city we headed 35 miles southeast to San Basilio de Palenque. We went there expecting a tiny drum festival but were in for a huge treat. After a bumpy and cramped bus ride, we landed in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere and had to take motorcycles down the 5-mile dirt road to the city. Once we got there, what we experienced was anything but dull. There were hundreds of people, amazing food, quality beer, and stunning singing and dance performances done by citizens of all ages, each of them more talented than the next. The drum festival isn’t the only unique aspect of Palenque. Many Africans escaped from the slave ship port of Cartagena and set up Palenque de San Basilio. In 1691, the Spanish Government guaranteed freedom to the Palenque de San Basilio Africans. They were, in fact, the first free Africans in the Americas, and as a result, Palenque was named a UNESCO world heritage site. 
 
I know you’re thinking that this sounds like a lot to do in just five days but there were more adventures to come! Cartagena is on the coast and we had to take advantage of the ideal location. We took a small boat out to the Islas del Rosario (Rosario Islands), a group of approximately 30 islands, all of them beautiful with crystal blue water, white sand, and exquisite sunsets. On the islands there are numerous trails to hike or bike, perfect snorkeling spots, and for those lazy/tired like myself, hundreds of picturesque beaches to nap on. This trip to Colombia was my first time in South America, but after my amazing experience, I know it won’t be my last. 
 
(Photo caption: Sophie and her brother, Jake, in San Basilio de Palenque)
 
 

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/02/17 at 06:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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