Los Farallones de Cali is a huge mountain range that runs through Western Colombia, starting in the city of Cali and running through Jamundí, Dagua, and Buenaventura on the Pacific Coast. We visited the start of the mountain range as part of our Environmental Conflicts class. The mountains give life, with the rivers in it providing Cali with its drinking water, yet it is also a contested frontier with the government, armed groups, and local residents all staking a claim.
It is a beautiful ecological space, with many visiting to enjoy the hiking and swimming the spots the mountain offers. However, the range also serves as a transnational link, being the home of the infamous Naya route, the path by which illicit economies in Colombia are connected to clientele in the United States. The Los Farallones de Cali is a beautiful space that provides life and identity to Western Colombia, yet one that is complicated in many ways.
Cartagena is one of Colombia’s biggest cities and one that is a tourist destination for many African Americans. We stayed in the city for three days as part of our program-funded week-long Traveling Seminar. The city is undeniably vibrant, fun, and international; its beaches are to die for. Yet the city also holds many gems.
The “real Cartagena” includes neighborhoods such as barrio Nelson Mandela, where many Afro-Colombians and Venezuelan migrants call their home, or La Boquilla, an Afro-Colombian fishing town on the edge of the city. In the former, we visited a school where we met local middle school students, showed them American dances, learned Colombian ones, and ate together. In the latter, we traversed los manglares with the fisherman, learning how to use their atarraya to catch fish, and learned about their fight against tourist-funneled gentrification.
Festival de las Universidades
A few of our Colombian roommates helped organize and DJ at this festival on behalf of la Universidad del Valle. The festival was a celebration of Afro culture and took place in Aguablanca, an Afro-Colombian neighborhood in Western Cali. In this event, we ate delicious papas rellenas, danced Currulao, marched through the streets of Aguablanca, and saw numerous performances in an event that went from 3 pm to 3 am.