The term “melting pot” is often used to describe areas in which a blend of cultures has come together. Colombia is more of a salad. The flavors, colors, and aromas of its people, culture, and landscape do not melt into one another, so much as they contrast and complement one another’s vibrancy and uniqueness. Cold, snowcapped mountains; crystalline water lapping on sandy beaches; fecund rainforests teeming with life; spicy South American influence; energetic African roots. Colombia offers visitors a taste of a colorful culture that is remarkable for its contrasts.
One of the best ways to experience Colombian culture is through its numerous festivals. Carnaval de Negros y Blancos, for instance, is a beloved festival that was also named a UNESCO “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.” Celebrated in January, the festival is a New Year’s party like no other with music, dancing, costumes, religious significance, colorful parades, and much more. The festival is a celebration of culture the likes of which are unrivaled throughout Colombia. But, of course, there is an abundance of other opportunities, from the Festival de Luna Verde, Fiestas del Mar, Festival Internacional de la Cultura…the list goes on and gloriously on.
Food. Perhaps the best way to experience culture! The cuisine of Colombia is influenced by Spanish, Arab, African, and Asian cultures. One of the country’s national dishes is Bandeja paisa: made with red beans, pork, rice, ground meat, fried egg, plantain, avocado, lemon, black pudding, chicharon (deep fried pork rind), chorizo (pork sausage), arepa (made from ground corn dough), and hogao sauce (tomato and onion-based sauce). This rich dish features a perfect blend of savory seasoning. Talk about complementing flavors, aromas, and colors! Bandeja paisa is just as multifaceted as Colombia itself.
Colombia’s identity is deeply rooted in the land itself. Here, you can visit the cold Andean mountains, the humid Amazon rainforest, the refreshing Pacific coast, and the equally inviting Atlantic coast. As diverse as Colombia’s people are, its landscapes are even more so. This area has incredible biodiversity; there are more endemic species here than anywhere else in the world. In addition, Colombia is home to over 1,800 species of birds and 456 species of mammals. Visitors can hike, kayak, dive, swim, trek, bike, and gawk their way through this marvelous natural scenery.
Colombia’s rich culture is evident in every festival, every dish, and every step of a traveler’s journey. Experience Colombia; you will never forget the energy, the pride, and the beauty of this South American nation.