Written by Jonah Bolton (Kalamazoo College) Student Correspondent, CET Colombia Fall 2019 This hacienda was home to one of Colombia’s best known authors of the book “María,” Jorge Isaacs. The land has since then been turned from fields to gardens, and cool irrigation streams are built around the house to sustain them. With this massive tree sitting right next to the house, the hacienda makes for a beautiful sight. However the beauty of the land couldn’t shake the eerie feeling here as we walked through the dungeon-turned-gift shop and the slave quarters. The novel “María” is a romance written about two “cousins” who are in love and is known as essentially “the Colombian Romeo and Juliet.” However, the lovers were not cousins as we learned during our tour, and was in fact inspired by one of the author’s own love for one of his slaves named María. However, rather than admitting to love a Black person, Isaacs chose to write a story about incest, which is much more socially acceptable apparently. During one of our lectures on the campus of Universidad del Valle: San Fernando, we had an unexpected guest join us for the presentation in our core class “Race, Ethnicity, and Identity.” The cat stayed sitting next to Vanessa for quite some time listening intently before wandering off again. This waterfall was a beautiful little spot that we found on the way to San Cipriano Natural Reserve. In this photo I stand inside an abandoned cabin a few hundred meters down the trail from a beautiful waterfall. With me are three Colombian roommates, Lina, Jennifer, and Luz; and my American roommate Luke. We found this spot on our way to San Cipriano Natural Reserve and used it as an opportunity to get out and stretch our legs as well as observe more natural beauty of the Colombian landscapes. This photo was taken during one of our CET excursions to the Museo de Vino, or Museum of Wine. The gigantic fields spread out for miles, and the delicious grapes were able to be picked from right above our heads. The Museum itself had wine we were able to taste and showed the process of how wine is made and stored. San Cipriano Natural Reserve is one of many territories that was designated to Afro-Colombian communities in the Constitution of 1991. Since then it has been used to become a site of conservation of wildlife and plant life. Tourists are drawn here to float in tubes down the river as well as enjoy traditional Afro-Colombian foods such as sancocho de pescado. One night the CET group and I spent some time letting our creativity flow. We bought supplies for painting and canvasses to let our artistic expressions come to life. It was a wonderful CET bonding experience, and there may or may not have been some wine involved. In this auditorium hundreds and hundreds of students at Universidad del Valle gathered to plan the next steps of a student protest movement that would include huge marches and public displays. The movement is demanding from the federal government that public university funds are increased and made more available and transparent. One of my closest friends, Wilson, is an elected student representative who has been very important to the process. He brought me to this event and I watched as he gave a brief speech to the massive crowd. This bridge took us from the highway through which we arrived to the railroad that brought us to San Cipriano Natural Reserve. The view from up here was beautiful to me, but I was quickly pushed ahead as some of my friends were not as keen on the heights as I was. In this photo the CET students and Colombian roommates loaded up onto the “brujitas” which drove us from the station to the San Cipriano Reserve itself. The ride was about 20 minutes long, and most students were speechless as we zoomed through the Colombian jungle to the Reserve. These “brujitas” are motorcycles that have been fitted with extra chairs and space to be a more efficient use of the abandoned railroad track.