Category: Colombia, 2020


February 9.

Breakfast outside in he courtyard at the hotel, then picked up by Santiago (Santi) our guide for the day and a close friend and business partner of Juan Comilo, our guide of yesterday. Santi proves to be a capable and very affable guide who we enjoy spending time with.We are driven to Palenque by Santi’s cousin, Felipe.

Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2005, the small village of Palenque (an hour and a quarter drive from Cartagena) was founded by escaped slaves who sought refuge and fled on foot to the inland foothills in the 17th century. The existing 4,000 residents in the town are ancestors of these original slaves. Although Cartagena was Spain’s principle slave port, the town of Palenque became the first “free” town in the Americas and today is a haven for the local African creole language, dance, colorful clothing style, and social structures.

We drive down the town’s dirt roads and stop at a house, where we are told something about the town and its culture. Then we are treated to a drumming, singing and dancing recital. I try out the drumming, but unfortunately no photograph is available. Probably, the photograph would not be very clear, anyway, because my hands move so quickly as I pound out the rhythm.

We pass by a local cemetery.witness a hot dominos game.and we learn something about herbal medicine and the architecture of an old house being restored by an architect.We return to the house that we first visited, where we are given some instruction on how to prepare a traditional appetizer, and then are served a traditional Palenqueno lunch.. Our shopping in town is not successful, but Carol does make a friend of one of the shop owners.

After lunch, we are quite ready to head home in our air-conditioned car, as the heat does not make one anxious to be out very long. It has been an interesting day in which we’ve been shown and participated in town culture, rather than simply having it described to us.

We have a good long time to rest in our comfortable hotel suite and get ready for tomorrow’s trip home, before it is time for dinner.

We dine tonight at a restaurant located in our hotel, called Alma, joined by Federico Ruiz, the art dealer who we met in Bogotá. Lovely setting outside in the courtyard, with outstanding food and beautiful presentation. Federico is an interesting and engaging fellow, so the conversation and evening were excellent. It’s still possible that we’ll arrange for a purchase of his brother’s sculpture by the Constitutional Court in South Africa, or even add a piece to our collection, but nothing is set yet.

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