Photos by Jonah Bolton (Kalamazoo College) Student Correspondent, CET Colombia Fall 2019 As the sun sets behind the mountainous barrio of Siloa, the CET students and I were getting ready to walk into the celebration of Petronio Alvarez, a festival in Cali that celebrates the culture of the Pacific Region of Colombia. In terms of regionalism in Colombia, the Pacific Region is strongly correlated with Black culture and Blackness. As we walked along these blocks, the streets were filled with vendors selling traditional foods and drinks such as viche. Viche is a famous medicinal alcoholic drink from the coast. This photo depicts one of the many concerts that occur during the five day celebration of Petronio Alvarez. This celebration has become internationally renowned and is specific to the city of Cali. Cali has a large Black population that identifies strongly with the Pacific region that this festival celebrates. While this festival is a great opportunity for musicians, cooks, artists, etc. from the Pacific region to demonstrate their talents, the celebration is problematic in that it has become gentrified and the original intent of the festival has been lost. Many people come simply to enjoy the cultures of Black people, and when the festival ends the city goes back to being a place where discrimination against Black people is common and projected lifespans of Black people are significantly lower. The top floor of Hotel Marrakech provided an excellent night view of the city, which we could view throughout the duration of the Roots Party. We went here to celebrate the end of the Petronio Alvarez festival. This was a great opportunity that we enjoyed with several of our Colombian roommates and met many new faces as well. This picture was taken at the foot of Farallones National Park, the site of an excursion through the CET Program. This spot is a favorite of cyclists (a very popular sport in Cali), where they ride their bikes up an extensive incline along the road to reach the beautiful pools of a river in order to cool off and enjoy this view. One of my favorite pictures that I took during our excursion to Farallones National Park, this photo shows the allure of the park and also the tiredness of our legs during this hike, hence the separation between us. This terraced landscape was full of quaint farms and thousands of species of birds. Colombia has the greatest biodiversity in terms of bird species in the world, and this Park contains the most of those many species. Here we have three of our Colombian roommates (from front to back, Wilson, Jennifer, Lina) walking through the small pueblo of Ladrilleros within Buenaventura. Wilson, who has become one of my closest friends due to our mutual interest in politics and learning bad words in each other’s languages, is making friends with one of the local boys in the town. After this photo, the CET group enjoyed a wonderful meal with Sancocho Pescado, a Pacific coast favorite. Here, my reflective chest and my Colombian roommate Armando make an appearance on the beach of Ladrilleros after a great weekend in Buenaventura. Armando has been one of the most important people I’ve met since I’ve been here in terms of patiently helping me with my Spanish and teaching me about the city. We learned about the processes of making viche, a popular Pacific drink in Universidad del Pacifico, and ASOPARUPA, an midwives organization that uses traditional birthing methods for more natural births while also reducing costs for women. These educational elements were balanced with fun activities like this beach trip and whale watching outside of the bay. A view of the docks of Buenaventura, Colombia’s biggest port on the Pacific coast. Buenaventura has huge cultural significance in Colombia, especially for the Black population. The city is 85% Black and has references in countless songs and movies. CET spent a weekend here, which was only about a three hour drive from Cali. Here, some CET students come face to face with some of the inhabitants of Farallones National Park. This farm at one point several years ago was occupied by FARC, where a hostage crisis ensued. This story was recounted to us between our guide, Christian, and the campesino who owns this farm. As we trekked through the mountains of Farallones National Park, I snapped this picture of Audrey and Mariella making their way through the jungle. We were on our way to a waterfall, being guided by Kevin, the son of the owner of the hostel we stayed at for the night. The waterfall was freezing, however it felt wonderfully refreshing after the strenuous hike. One of my favorite experiences of the Buenaventura trip was our whale watching adventure, where we got to see these massive Humpback whales up close and personal. This one was one of the closest to the boat, however we saw many other whales from a distance as well. Pictured is also our guide, who told us about the migratory patterns that every year brings hundreds of whales along the coast of Buenaventura during the months of September and October.