It’s safe to say at this point I am well traveled enough to know that the African Diaspora is far, wide, and everywhere. Going to a South American country for the first time, and a coastal one at that, I knew I was bound to see some of my hermanas y hermanos.
But it’s one thing to see them, but a total other thing to experience and interact with them. And I was able to do that with major thanks and props to Mr. Cartagena himself, Alex Rocha.
I found out about Alex through the recommendations of other travelers on the world wide web, that RAVED about his tours and how you would get a feel for the real Cartagena. After seeing his name pop up on the ump-teenth blog/website, I knew he was my guy for the tours I wanted to book.
I ended up using Alex to book a tour to Playa Blanca (a popular beach) and to San Basilio de Palenque (the first free slave town in the Americas).
My trip to Playa Blanca happened within my first few hours of being in Cartagena…literally, I got settled into my AirBnB around 2AM and met Alex at his tour bus at 9:30AM.
The journey from Cartagena to Playa Blanca by itself is about 90 minutes driving (you can also get there by boat), but we made some memorable stops along the way.
The first stop was to a small town called Ararca. While there we got to walk the streets of the neighborhood. We got to see some men performing the tedious task (which they made look oh so effortless) of making a fishing net.
|Local lady in Ararca, cleaning freshly caught fish|
Walking down the road a bit further, we saw some men playing dominoes. Alex stopped and asked us if we wanted to play and a life memory was made in that instant. Some of the men offered up their chairs to allow some of us to sit down with them, drink a nice cold beer, and play a few games of dominoes.
|Sippin’ my cerveza, waiting for my turn|
After that fun, we got back onto the bus and drove a few more miles down the road to another town, Santa Ana. There we got to stop at a school, where some local kids were taking Saturday lessons.
|Beautiful mural painted on the wall of the school|
|The little children coming to greet us|
The next stop was the beach, where we got to spend four hours of leisure. The views from this beach were simply beautiful the absolute perfect place for me to be after the previous day of traveling for almost 24 hours.
While there I had my inaugural plate of traditional Cartagena-food (coconut rice, fried green plantains, salad, and a whole fish). I say inaugural, because I may/may not have had this same type of plate about 4 times during my almost weeklong stay.
|Fresh Piña Colada|
I also got to have a much needed massage by a local, which made my beach day just great.
|Sis was going in!|
Funny thing, but while I was there, a few people kept coming up to me asking to take pictures with me. I didn’t think of it as a big deal, I actually enjoyed it, as I love love love to interact with natives. Here are some shots with me con mi gente.
Now if you’re looking to head to Playa Blanca, obviously, there are other options that can get you there, but going with Alex you’re bound to have that personal experience that is unmatched. We had our own section on the beach waiting for us when we got there and everything was just so.
Additionally the fact that we got to make the pit-stops prior, and interact with the local people, made the trip more than worthwhile. I HIGHLY encourage anyone headed to Cartagena, to check Alex out right here at this link. He offers many other tours, at a reasonable price.
The next day got even better…Can you believe it? Click here to keep reading about my my trip to San Basilio de Palenque.