A Sense of Accomplishment in Medellin and Cartagena
Dear Advisor Partners,
As we wrap up our dispatch from Colombia, I present part III, the final report from a magical 41st visit to Colombia. Leaving La Macarena, with my shoulder back intact, the reflection of what we just accomplished started to sink in. This wasn’t just a 12-year vision coming to fruition, this was an accomplishment that allowed me to finally relax, the anxiety leaving and routine returning. As we landed in Medellin before sunset, I was relieved to return to one of my favorite cities in Colombia, the city that invented the phrase transformation through tourism.
The familiar faces of Julio and Juan Carlos greeted us as we arrived, their beards with a few more strands of grey, yet their smiles brighter than ever. This visit to Medellin was more important than any other because of our visit to higher parts of Comuna 13 with friend and guide, Jason. The activity with Jason focused on the African heritage in Comuna 13, beyond the crowded and touristy parts of the neighborhood. This was actually forged a few years back during the Tourism Cares Summit in Medellin, where I met Jason’s bro, Freddy. We formed a great connection showcasing Comuna 13, as, after all, it wasn’t that far back that this area was a conflict zone. The highlight of this area however isn’t the story of violence, rather the story of coping through music. Jason and his family used drum beats and different styles of hip-hop music, merged with Reggaeton, to create a unique sound that has a sonic influence even on those that are not musically inclined. Jason has come a long way, born with tanks and violence in his community to now collaborating with leading hip-hop artists and other top musical acts. I joked with Jason to remember me when he walks the red carpet one day!
From Medellin, it was on to Cartagena to close out our adventure. You know, I believe everything happens for a reason, so when the rain washed out our boating day, something magical ensued, lunch prepared by our private chef in the home of the Botero family, which we often use for our travelers. The highlight was the best sunset ever, with a 360° view from the rooftop of the home. After the stress of pulling off the perfect visit to Macarena, Cartagena is where everything always falls into place, from our guide Vicky’s unforgettable energy to the culinary delights of the city. The highlight, thanks to my friend Carolina from OhLaLa, was meeting noted author Gabo’s nephew during a private lunch with access to the last 8 copies of his family memoir in the world, gifted exclusively to our group. Top that off with chocolate from the famous Abraham that denoted our entire journey from where the cacao was sourced to the wrapping.
Visit 41 is in the books, and I haven’t even shared our new plans of working with the late Anthony Bourdain’s guide in Cartagena. It involves ceviche and hammocks suspended from the top of trees.. stay tuned for that!