10 Tips for the AntiSocial #DigitalNomad in Medellin, or, We Pub our First 'Listicle'

I’ve worked in a couple (hundred) coffee spots from Califas to Cartagena, NYC to Medellin. I’ve sat on stools and plush sofa chairs, hard-ass wood benches and uncomfortable tiny booths with backs as straight as 6 o’ clock where the foot traffic and passersby were really more of a signal that business was good rather than that one could actually get any work done. And I’m sure you have, too.

Over the past five years, I’ve gone from working in corporate offices to nonprofit spaces in WeWork (Berkeley) to working on weekends in neighborhood libraries and other public spaces, to fully remote in Medellin, where I’ve been for about a year working on Scarlet Macaw Trips.

 This is a worthwhile day trip! #Guatapè 

This is a worthwhile day trip! #Guatapè 

Before arriving in Medellin I didn’t read many blogs or anything else having to do with digital anything. When I got here, however, I did start poking around and noticed that the same few places were usually mentioned on a variety of blogs, whether we’re talking dinner spots or day trips. This is most likely because Medellin is still in a growth phase not because all the blogs are biting off each other

Anyway, I haven’t been to as many neighborhoods as I would like to have and I certainly haven’t done all there is to do in Medellin. However, after a year of working three jobs, I feel qualified to speak on the drastic (and joyous!) differences between a Medellin Starbucks/Dunkin’ Donuts and a Starbucks on Market Street, San Francisco, where I am from. I realize that supporting a Starbucks in Medellin is in line with supporting The Man, but I can also tell you I do not make enough to afford an office + an apartment, so here we are.

A full generation older than the #DigiNomo (ew, just grossed myself out) crowd, I like my coffee simple and my sugar infrequent. I like my music wordless and my DJ’s nonexistent. I’m just trying to get work done and grow a business, even if the concept of SEO and the phrase ‘content creation’ enrages me!

Anyway, what I can tell you, if you are looking to get work done, is that the less cool the vibe the better the internet - within Colombian reason. I’m sharing the best places to get work done in Medellin with you because I know when you see me at one of these you won’t start chatting with me, you’ll just get to work.

Full disclosure: I used to work at a co-working space in Medellin so LIFEAFAR is mentioned below. And yes I have been to Selina. I had the distinct honor of getting yelled at by a Chilean co-worker who told me to get off the deck (in some weird Clint-Eastwood-but-in-Spanish-shit) because that space was only for monthly clients. I told her to CHILL. Pero CHILL-L-L-L-L-EEEEEEE. The only other time I’ve been there was for a mixer, where I met a great couple from Texas in their 50s traveling together with Remote Year. They were cool.

Here’s my list. Fight me on this.

Top of the ‘Jarra - Rooftop Status
Right across from the passport office of Medellin, near the Alpujarra station downtown, there is an official city building that has wifi on the top floor. It can be breezy, and, depending on the time of year, you could get rained out any day after 1 pm. You’ll have to use your Spanish skills and ask someone in that plaza which building it is exactly, but you’ll be fine. Afterwards, or before, you can visit Parque de Berrio, Botero Plaza, and/or the “Museum of AGUA EPM,” and pay my water bill while you’re at it.

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LIFEAFAR - A place to #Live #Work and #Invest
On Calle 10, right around Parque Poblado, there is a white-walled office with incredible air-conditioning and one great seat on the second floor balcony overlooking the kitchen in what is technically called Global Express Center. The wifi is 99.99% EN POINTE and if not on the first floor in one of the booths, one can usually get good work done. So go forth, wear a sweater, and conquer all that you have to do in a day! I recommend getting your afternoon cafecito two blocks up at Toucan Cafe and I say ditch the buñuelos for a fruit salad across the street (bright yellow/orange walls and fruit pictures everywhere). You don’t have to add cheese to your fruit salad but…I would. 

Dunkin Donuts - Milla de Oro
Maybe your first memories of Dunkin’ are also of being in Boston for the first time in the late 90s or waiting in a 20 minute line out the door on 57th and 8th on sweltering summer days in the city. No? Well, I always liked me a Dunkin. There is a small, 3-boothed-Dunkin on the Milla de Oro, Edificio One Plaza. It’s a nice airy space and isn’t usually crowded. You can go to the restroom next door at Starbucks and have a booth all to yourself. Treat yourself to a classic donut hole and stroll through Parque Lineal La Presidenta afterwards. On Sundays, get a veggie empanada and juguito de caña de azucar for 1 buck.

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MERCADO DEL RIO - Any seat in the house
Mercado del Rio is right across the street from Ciudad del Rio, the Modern Art Museum of Medellin, a skate park, and open air park where families and folks mill about with their kids and/or pets and/or each other. You can sit upstairs at one of the picnic tables, put your earphones in, and get to it. It’s an indoor food court and most of the action (dates/gringos) happens on the 1st floor. Beware Sunday night, however, as families or groups of people usually take up the more comfortable seating. But who’s working on a Sunday anyway?

La Taza Tienda de Cafe in Laureles
This spot is labeled as ‘cozy’ on Google Maps and it’s right by a tiny little park in Laureles off of Avenida Nutibara. This coffee shop was submitted by my friend Maria, who just pulled off an incredible feat here in Colombia before returning to Portland. I trust her.

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Trapani - Envigado Pizza Haus
This spot is definitely less coffee and more pizza and I’m not sure how great they realize the name TRAPANI is. It conjures up a whole genre of music and the word panini - solid. The menu has pizza and other unnecessarily fancy items, like salmon with salad and puree de papa! I was nearby, waiting to see my fur baby at the hospital around the corner for visiting hours. Their wifi survived a thunder storm, they gave me free garlic knots, and were attentive. I don’t know what else you want?!

 

Top Floor Oviedo Mall - Tables by the palm trees

This open air wifi and work table situation is a dream come true when the wifi is working throughout the entire joint. Otherwise, it’s hard to get the wifi from specific clothing stores nearby. If the open air scene (3rd floor) or quiet singlet tables (2nd floor) aren’t available, there is a “co-working” zone on the 1st floor. This space is usually best in the AM. I recommend the leather chairs and not the tables. Also, this space is also a garage? But, if you heave headphones and some BYOC (coffee) you’ll be good, assuming the wifi works that AM. 

Dunkin Donuts - Calle 10 El Poblado

Wow I guess I’m DD’s biggest fan. This particular DD location has working WIFI and comfy couches, chairs, and booths. The spot is not THAT popular and therefore great for calls (your loud voice will not annoy other paying customers if there aren’t that many!) The customer service is delightful and they don’t bother you much, because the employees are usually flirting with each other. I love this! Once you’re in with the crew, they will usually give you the 8-hour password as opposed to the 1-hour password. Be nice and don’t be annoying. This could be your permanent office.

Amati Cafe - Envigado

I have nothing but accolades for this quiet coffee shop in La Buena Mesa, Envigado. These guys are chill, take their craft seriously, and play good Hector Lavoe and other classic salsa during their shift. The crowd is a mix of travelers, families, and couples making out. Percimon is nearby as is Son de Timba, if you wanna shake a leg after putting in some hours.

So what is #1?!
Well, I can’t give it all up. A good man, the creator of MEDELLIN en 3, gifted me this secret in confidence on his way out of Medellin this past summer. If this is obnoxious to you, please note it’s mostly just a ploy to find out more about YOU. Please email us at info@scarletmacawtrips.com with what you’re working on here in Medellin and we’ll take it from there.

We are currently working on filling seats for our January 2019 PHOTO TRIP LED BY SUPERSTAR AND GREAT HUMAN JAMES ANTHONY here in #Medallo! More info is everywhere on this site and relevant to those seeking to build their international photo portfolio while traveling.

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 Photo courtesy James Anthony

Photo courtesy James Anthony

Profile on James Anthony, World Traveler + Photographer Extraordinaire

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Photo courtesy James Anthony, Cartagena, Jan. 2018

A little bit about the James Anthony we know: he’s not afraid to jump into a mud volcano, he keeps calm during minor emergencies in said mud volcano, he shoots his surroundings without disrupting the natural order of things, he’s inspired and inspiring, he’s a world traveler, a visionary, and he loves his art and his community deeply.

That said, these are only a couple of reasons why we knew right off the bat - on a bus ride from Cartagena to ‘El Totumo’ mud volcano - that this guy was special. Since meeting him in February, he has moved to Los Angeles, participated in the #DreamVillageTour, and appeared on Ellen! (Yes, that Ellen!) We can barely keep up with James, but see him as a kindred and kinetic person of the world seeking collaboration and creation at every stop. This January, he’ll be stopping in Medellin, Colombia, to host a photography workshop on-site for up-and-coming photographers looking to grow their international portfolio.

We met JA earlier this year in Cartagena, on a job with Global Jet Black. He was the designated photographer for GJB’s trip to Cartagena and Cali, Colombia. Although it would have been a dream to chill with with GJB’s crew for the entirety of the week, we only had the pleasure of spending one full day with them in Cartagena. As their city hosts, we organized a trip from their hotel in Getsemani (close to ‘El Centro’ of Cartagena) to the mud volcano, about 45 minutes outside of town. On our way back, we stopped in ‘La Boquilla,’ a well-known Afro-Colombian fishing village, where we facilitated a canoe excursion of the mangroves, an economy that serves the local community. Following an informative tour of daily life in the village - James was chosen to cast a local’s fishing net to see what he came in with - we busted open the coconuts, hit the shade, and enjoyed a typical fresh fried fish meal - replete with ‘patacones’ (fried plantains) and coconut rice.

 James in #LaBoquilla, Cartagena 2018, Photo courtesy James Anthony

James in #LaBoquilla, Cartagena 2018, Photo courtesy James Anthony

Under the thatched roof at a long table decorated with bright red table cloth, we all cooled off with coconuts + rum and local beer, and regained our bearings, recalling the day’s events and getting to know each of the travelers a little more.

JA, however, had a magnetism that our team was drawn to. He was inspired by travel, his art, his family, his wife, his community, and burst onto the photography scene with a hunger so real no one could deny it. Throughout lunch he spoke a bit about manifesting one’s dreams and the very real power of positive energy, hard work, and commitment to becoming the best photographer he could be. It seems to have worked. In just a few years, he was not only being asked to shoot celebrities and magazine covers, but to speak about the more nebulous but equally important aspects of ‘success,’ and ‘making it.’ Folks have been looking to him for a while now as an example of what persistence-of-vision can mean professionally and personally. He’s as much a photographer as he is an innovator and guru.

We loved what he was putting out there and could tell that others were, too. After lunch we chatted about traveling, relaxed in hammocks, and took advantage of the gorgeous afternoon to take more photos. As if someone had told us we were ‘meant’ to be - we knew we would link up again for something rewarding.

When JA comes to Medellin for The Right Light Photo Workshop with us this January 31-February 6, 2019, it will be his first time in Antioquia (the department in which Medellin is situated) - home to the super estrella J. Balvin and its in/famous Bandeja Paisas - but not JA’s first time making art in a new place.

We wanted James to lead this trip because he knows how to dig in and connect. He translates his vision into palpable scenes. He cares about people and their community. He knows how to travel respectfully and responsibly. And he is a damn good photographer who knows how to make lasting images.

Join us. This trip is about challenging yourself as a photographer in new scenarios and trusting the process. We’re taking care of the rest.

#TheRightLight2019

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Check the trip page for full details and more of James’ work below and of course, on his professional site.

New Trip Alert: "The Right Light - Photo Workshop with James Anthony"

Calling All Photo + Travel Enthusiasts!

Any way you slice it, you’re going to be taking photographs when you come visit Medellin - which you will, trust us.

We’re one step ahead of you and have curated an epic 5-day, 6-night photo workshop led by the very talented and always inspiring James Anthony, editorial photographer and world traveler. For this trip, we’ll be using Medellin as a backdrop for cultural and photographic exploration with our host and team leader, James.

Our goal is to provide opportunities throughout the week for you to grow your international photo portfolios via day trips where we’ll find environmental, editorial, documentary, street, and candid photo opportunities.

The itinerary is built with three things in mind:

  • Picture-making and growing your portfolio

  • Safe exploration of Medellin and its surrounding areas. Medellin has always been in the news, but these days it’s making headlines because of its ascension as a popular travel destination.

  • Guided excursions with an experienced team that allow for maximized creativity and productivity. We’ve also built in time for you to reflect on the creative process and meet like-minded creatives.

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James Anthony: On Top of His Game - and Ascending

We first met James back in Feburary of 2018 while he was in Cartagena shooting and just clicked (pun intended). We designed this trip with him in mind as your host and group leader.

James is an in-demand editorial photographer who specializes in food, beauty and fashion, portrait, and commercial work. He’s also an avid traveler and has shot on location all over the world. We are so excited to be on the same soil with him again and for you to grow from his expertise.

All images c. James Anthony

The Rundown

There’s no way to capture all of Medellin in 5 days but we’ve selected excursions that we believe will contribute the most punch to your portfolios.

Please see the full itinerary here.

In the meantime, here’s a quick run through of what you’ll be seeing, doing, eating, sensing, and shooting:

  • Santa Elena: You’ll be visiting Santa Elena, home to the family that created Medellin’s famous “Flower Festival” that occurs every August. While learning about this family’s legacy, you’ll fill your portfolio with colors of every kind from the hundreds of native plants and flowers that fill their farm.

  • La Minorista: Ever heard of chontaduros? How about chirimoya? One thing we can tell you: they’re great additions to the classic tradition of the still life. In Medellin’s famous indoor market, we’ll be meeting local vendors, learning about local produce (and eating it too), and interpreting the still life Colombian style.

  • Birds Eye View: Ever lie on the ground just to get the shot? How about climb more than 700 stairs to get the shot? Bring your walking shoes ‘cause we’re going up (on a Monday…) to secure one of the region’s most gorgeous vistas: that of El Penol and Guatape.

  • Comuna 13 - Transformation Tour with Kasa Kolacho
    Comuna 13 provides a classic street landscape for up-and-coming photographers to learn more about Medellin’s incredible past and bright future. Environmental portraits, visits with community organizations and leaders, architecture opportunities, and video, are all possible. Think street art, murals, breakdancing and action shots, local neighborhood life, and the privilege of traveling back in time safely to learn about this barrio’s storied past.

The Details

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Medellin is a lively, fun, enchanting place to travel and it is our absolute privilege to host you here.

Please vist the official trip page for full details (price, payment options, dates, and more).

We’re looking for 15 avid photographers to come explore, come grow, come see, come experience - is this you?

Email info@scarletmacawtrips.com for any and all concerns and capital Q’s.

Searching for the Cock of the Rock with Mom in Jardin, Colombia

 50 Shades of Green, above the Cock of the Rock Sanctuary, Jardin  

50 Shades of Green, above the Cock of the Rock Sanctuary, Jardin  

Until a couple weeks ago, Mom hadn't been back to Colombia since 1988, when she dropped me off at my Abuelita's house to go work on her dissertation for a few weeks -- as if Cali were just around the corner. We had flown down together from California. I was 7. She knew as surely as she knew anything that I would be alright.

I went swimming daily, ate full midday meals prepared by my loving Abuela, and tolerated my doting tia’s need to spit-comb my bangs.  My memories from that time are of hot, white skies that opened up in the afternoon to water the patio plants. They're speckled with the calls of the peanut vendor in the plaza, who worked next to the cholado guy, caddy-corner from the chontaduro lady. When my mom came back from her research trip to pick me up, my tia and I had decided to welcome her by saying, "Mamá  - yo hablo español ahora! (I speak Spanish now!)" It’s easy when you’re that young. There is a picture from that visit that has me standing in the middle of the plaza in an oversized 80s T, with friendship bracelets running up my arms and a pre-braces smile that reminds me of how wild and happy I was in the country I still considered ours. 

And now I am here again, on my own, an adult, as she was.

Mom was the true pioneer, though. Four years before that trip -- pre-internet, pre-digital nomad hubs, pre-Selina, pre-full-stack-developer jobs, pre-Yelp, pre-GPS, certainly pre-Uber --   Mom had married my father, a Caleño, and spent almost four years in early 1980s Colombia. She survived Giardia and dengue fever; boiled water to drink; hand wrote letters home, and had only one American friend with whom to speak English. Her experience was partly defined by being a new mother to a baby whose first language would be Spanish, living in a traditional familial setting, and getting paid in pesos, which meant never having enough. But she and my father just made a go of it, one adventure at a time.

Those were the years when the cocaine trade was just lifting off, devouring the fragile balance of Colombian society, flawed though it was. We left well before he-who-shall-not-be-named rose to infamy, before the Peace Corps suspended placements in the increasingly fractured country, before the majority of internal displacements occurred during the civil war. But, she says, there was already a sense of vulnerability to the violence both overt and lurking. We returned to the U.S. in search of sanity and stability. We left so that I could go to school.

 

  

 Prodigal Mom after a sleepless night in a BS AirBNB (Don't worry the water's fine!) 

Prodigal Mom after a sleepless night in a BS AirBNB (Don't worry the water's fine!) 

 Bird of Paradise in Paradise

Bird of Paradise in Paradise

Over the years I had been back to Cali countless times, not only that summer with my grad student mother, but also with my father, and even on my own. In 2014, I was awarded a Fulbright Grant and had the life-changing opportunity to live on the Caribbean Coast (Cartagena) - today one of the country's top tourist destinations, despite the widespread poverty. In the wake of that year of social contrasts, I conceived  this beast/passion project/risky social purpose travel effort called Scarlet Macaw. But I decided to launch in Medellin because of its reputation online and the PR machine aiming to bringing in more and more visitors every year, championing Medellin's social scene, top-notch digital amenities, and one-of-a-kind investment opportunities for those with money. The prospects were, in a word, insane - and super seductive. Medellin today is also a great entry point for first-time visitors to Colombia.

So I had been here a little over 6 months before I finally was able to welcome Mom for a visit in May.  She had also never been to Medellin, and was excited. With her proclivity for uncharted territory and general trailblazing, 30 years later she still only really worried about the water.

I wanted Mom to get a sense of the City of Eternal Rain for herself and also for us to have some active, adventurous QT together. We decided that would mean the mountain town of Jardín, a 3.5 hour bus ride from the city's south terminal, famous as a sanctuary for an elusive red bird they called the Gallito de la Roca -- Cock of the Rock. I'd also have a chance to run some development ideas for Scarlet Macaw Trips past her, while on the road. She is SMT's sole editor and thought-partner for my nascent company, with its huge, beautiful, full-spread, stereotype-busting dreams bursting at the SquareSpace seams! But before I drew up an impossible editorial calendar for this one-woman-marching-band, I just wanted to board the bus to Jardin and get Mom to say cock-of-the-rock 100 times in 72 hours...

I had learned NYC via solo-explorations on foot and long bike rides into the furthest reaches of  the boroughs. I did the same in Medellin and we would do so Jardin. Finding things on my own reinforces the experience, creates organic anecdotes, and adds a trustworthy confidence to the itineraries and trips I design for clients and partners. (In sum, I am like Columbus,   'discovering' Pergamino Coffee on Cra 37 six months into my stay in Medellin. Correcto: The coffee there is exceptionally good.) 

 Issa #BabblingBrook

Issa #BabblingBrook

 Magic hour on some magic grass

Magic hour on some magic grass

In this way, booking an AirBNB apartment that was less than promised, then canceling our second night there when we stumbled upon an insanely luxurious hotel del pueblo, was that much more joyous! Canvassing a town and exploring without a plan opens your eyes and readies you for inevitable serendipitous interactions, genuine surprises concerning good food, sightseeing, and activities - without any expectations. It frees your mind from the instinct to compare and form judgments.

Right off the bus on Day 1, we followed a random street past the edge of town into a gorgeous pastoral area. The afternoon downpour had just cleared, and we found ourselves communing with the happy celebrants of The Magic Hour: butterflies, street dogs trotting purposefully around the puddles, cows and horses grazing the luscious wet grass, men lowering themselves into front porch chairs after work. The muddy road was lined with eggplant-black elephant-ears, birds of paradise, and chaotic tangles of a plant whose leaves and stems were both the same bright magenta color. It was a magenta-on-magenta crime scene and we have the pictures to prove it. Rounding the curve in the road on his way back into town, a man on a moto slowed to  tip us off:  "Keep walking, there are gallitos right up ahead!" Gallitos, could we be so lucky? We weren’t,  but I saw a bright orange-and-black feathered bird whose Latin name could only be SF Gigantus Fan Numero Uno fluttering around in some shrubs, then zooming off to pick berries elsewhere.

At night, we treated ourselves to a lovely vegetarian restaurant where we had - correct - chicken stir fry (it was on the menu) and a glass of wine. Save for one Spanish couple, there were only English-speakers in the restaurant (because vegetarian!). Thinking about the next day, we considered taking a tour with a man who would: a) help us secure rubber boots for Mom, b) take us by jeep to the waterfall and c) provide a delicious local lunch. We awoke to pouring rain and decided to take a pass. But we found all of the above on our own, as soon as the rain cleared, with ease.. Another tour, promising views of the famous bird, also left too early in the morning. But said gallitos - these Cocks of the Rock that make their home in various pockets of Jardîn - could be found in the afternoon, too. I’d gone to bed googling these ridiculous animals - large like some doves, bright red with a half-moon-helmet of red feathers on top, making themselves seem taller. #Men

Day 2.

Let's blow this pop stand. Having not slept at all at our shitty AirBNB, Mom and I stumbled to the plaza where we sat down at a relaxed, open-air coffee shop. The waitress fixed us granola bowls using fresh fruit from the markets. 10/10 would eat fruit and drink coffee there again. People of all ages, including grannies and granddaughters, frequented the coffee shops lining the very traditional plaza.  The church is heavy duty in that it's been traced and outlined 10 times over in gold. But on a daily basis most folks found respite and calm in the cafes, chatting in the fresh air and observing passers-by. Older men and their friends sit and chew the fat, while groups of bikers post up outside, their expensive bikes leaning against bright, colonial buildings, stretching and eating pan de bonos and buñuelos before hitting the road again. Then, of course, there are the street dogs -- Jardin's sweet spirits -- gracing the church steps, plaza and fountain, side streets, and restaurant entrances, lazing around not bothering a soul and dreaming only of tossed meat and a little sunshine.  They were nice looking and not mangey, signs of human caring.

 Main plaza, Jardin. 

Main plaza, Jardin. 

 Post-bath time dove action, Jardin

Post-bath time dove action, Jardin

 Favorite snack  

Favorite snack  

 View from a place we will stay next time. Something to look forward to. 

View from a place we will stay next time. Something to look forward to. 

 I will happily promote the breakfast bowl from Cafe Cuchillas

I will happily promote the breakfast bowl from Cafe Cuchillas

Come afternoon, we were ready to go in search of the cocks. Of the rocks. We were told there was a sanctuary for such cocks and in looking for it, the long way, the lost way, we encountered a gallito that literally took our breath away. We were slipping and sliding down a muddy, post-rain trail, barely looking up at the sea of green that surrounded the narrow but unusually loud river passing through the sanctuary, when all of a sudden, a few seconds of wings fanning the air and a shake of a branch and poom!  There was our gifted gallito: bright, shocking red in a world of green. We stopped. He perched. We were overwhelmed with his beauty. I zoomed in as much as possible with my phone. He was too beautiful and would not be pixelated. When he took off, we shoved on. We found the sanctuary entrance and met the wife of the biologist who founded it. She told us all about the birds, the bats, the fruits, the owls, and the other creatures that grace the region. After seeing several gallitos in their natural habitat, peeking at them between branches (Note: not camouflaged AT ALL!) and listening to their monkey shrieks, we said adios and ambled back to town -- a short, straight shot -- the way we 'should have' entered the sanctuary in the first place. Happy with our sightings and our sub-par wildlife photos, we went straight back to a restaurant serving platos típicos which had become our favorite after a single first-day lunch there.  I fed some of my generous portion of chicken to a sweet, blond street pup who followed us back to the hotel and took a nap under the receptionist's tolerant feet. 

Was Jardín 2018 equatable in any way to Cali 1982? No, absolutely not. And it doesn't have to be. She's already done that. She's been there. She's boiled that. She's bared that. I embrace Mom's forever method of travel, which was and still is: conversational, forward-facing, positive, respectful, surprising, and joyous.  

We met who we were supposed to meet, ate what we were supposed to eat, and slept where we were supposed to sleep. Being present and free of preconceived notions is the best way to 'unplug' and tune in. It doesn't matter who told you to drink what coffee at tal y tal cafe or what hotel to stay in. Ultimately, all paths led to the gallito, the cock of the rock who landed on the branch right in front of us on the muddy path we were not supposed to be on in the first place. He was magnificent.

Pa'lante, mujeres.  

 Ye olde Cock of the Rock in his natural habitat

Ye olde Cock of the Rock in his natural habitat

#ConexionLatinx, 2018 - Salento, Colombia

#ConexionLatinx, 2018 - Salento, Colombia

TRAVEL LATINA and SCARLET MACAW TRIPS teamed up this spring to host the first ever CONEXION LATINX in the beautiful eje cafetero region of Colombia. We chose SALENTO, one of the quietest, safest, most lush and inspiring places found in Colombia. Latinxs from all countries who wanted to safely visit (or re-visit!) Colombia and expand their knowledge of/connection to Latin America attended.

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A-Z Deets for 2018's CONEXION LATINA

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 "CONEXION LATINX"

This spring, Travel Latina, an online forum featuring women, womxn and gender non-binary people of the Latin American and Caribbean diaspora traveling the world, is teaming up with Scarlet Macaw Trips to host the first ever CONEXION LATINX in the beautiful eje cafetero (coffee region) of Colombia. The week, slated for March 29-April 2, 2018, will be dedicated to personal and professional discovery, cultural growth and understanding via dynamic workshops, fun classes and immersion activities, dialogue, art making, and inclusive, professional roundtable seminars.

Participants will be encouraged to workshop their own personal or professional project. They will leave the week with a plan of action for moving said initiative forward. The fertile surroundings of Colombia's
eje cafetero will set the scene for interpersonal exchanges and local experiences to fortify and support one another via peer-to-peer workshops and more.

WHAT’S INCLUDED?

  • Dates: 4 nights, 5 days (March 29 - April 2, 2018) in a shared dorm for six at the Coffee Tree Boutique Hostel. (Private room available upon request for a higher price).

  • Cost per person: $280 USD early bird price until 2/15/18, $300 regular registration price through March 15, 2018 (or until last seat is filled) Full details of what’s included below.

  • Where? Salento, Quindio, Colombia, a verdant, picturesque pueblo surrounded by coffee fincas and the Cocora Valley.

MORE details:

 

Dorm rooms in modern hostel in central Salento (4 nights)

  • Welcome and farewell dinners in Salento

  • Breakfast (5 days)

  • Lunch (4 days)

  • 3-4 TRAVEL LATINA workshops + materials

    • These workshops will be dedicated to drawing up next steps for advancing a passion project, small business idea, or personal project into its next stage via peer-to-peer seminars and ongoing dialogue throughout the week.

  • Yoga session (2nd optional)

  • 1 workshop with local artist (includes leather making with take-home gift) in support of the Aldea de Artesania in Salento, a collective of local artists who will contextualize the economy and history of local artisans

  • Transportation to and from Cocora Valley, home to 200-ft-tall wax palms, miles of hiking trails, and hummingbird sanctuaries, and included experience (includes lunch and afternoon workshop with Travel Latina)

  • Transportation to and from Finca Ocasa (one of the region’s most lauded coffee farms) and included experience (private tour, lunch, tips and afternoon workshop with Travel Latina)

  • Workshop materials to be provided by Travel Latina

 

WHO SHOULD GO ON THIS TRIP?

YOU.

You’re at a crossroads or on the ascent professionally.

You’ve started a project and are seeking collaborative ideas or solutions.

You want to explore Colombia while connecting and supporting local entities.

You are seeking an amazing travel experience (day trips, nature, beauty, music, good company) You are collaborative, driven, adventurous, and craving a peer-to-peer travel experience.

This experience is open to everyone. 

 

WHAT’S WITH THE ‘X’ in CONEXION LATINX?

From the Huff Po: “Latinx is the gender-neutral alternative to Latino, Latina and even Latin@. Used by scholars, activists and an increasing number of journalists, Latinx is quickly gaining popularity among the general public. It’s part of a “linguistic revolution” that aims to move beyond gender binaries and is inclusive of the intersecting identities of Latin American descendants. In addition to men and women from all racial backgrounds, Latinx also makes room for people who are trans, queer, agender, non-binary, gender non-conforming or gender fluid.”

 

 

A few FAQs for our CONEXION LATINX (2018) participants

For anyone traveling to Colombia for the first time, we know the thought of taking a bus alone to a little pueblo might be overwhelming. While we can't, unfortunately, offer pick-up in any of the big cities (Medellin, Cali, Bogota) we can offer a few pro-tips and in general, sites to check out when you are considering BUS or FLIGHT from one of the above international destinations.

We suggest you arrive to Medellin, Cali, or Bogota. From there the options are long bus rides (ranging from 5-8 hours) to Salento or a short plane ride into ARMENIA or PEREIRA. Assuming your arrival is before 8 pm, SMT can help you arrange transportation from Armenia/Pereira into Salento.

We are here to help you with logistics and if you are arriving late, we're happy to find transportation for you at an added cost of around $45 USD. This price isn't built into the workshop price but we can work it in. We highly suggest letting us know your arrival times so that we can help ensure you get to Salento safe and sound. If you are traveling during the day, by two planes, you will most likely have a smooth arrival. Arriving at dark in a new place is sometimes jarring so we want to make sure you feel good about all travel plans!

Please write us at info@scarletmacawtrips.com so we can help you.

Below are some good fare checkers. Let us know what you find!

-SMT + TL

Bogota to Pereira

Bogota to Armenia

BUS: Bogota to Armenia, round trip

BUS: Bogota to Pereira, round trip

 MOMONDO Flight checker, Bogota to Armenia

MOMONDO Flight checker, Bogota to Pereira

 Once you arrive, all will be #RELAX

Once you arrive, all will be #RELAX

#TravelLatina - SpotLight on Founder Alexandra Tracy

 Ale in San Diego, Califas

Ale in San Diego, Califas

Surely you have stumbled across @Travel_Latina by now. The IG page, website, and FB community all function to empower and uplift womxn and gender non-binary people of the Latin American and Caribbean diaspora traveling the world. It's founder, Alexandra Tracy, wrote a blog post a couple of years ago that caught my eye. I reached out. She featured Scarlet Macaw Trips when it was born, and we immediately began hatching a plan to collaborate someday. That someday is this year. 

Both Ale and I found ourselves back in Colombia as adults after growing up in the States. Her mother is from Colombia, my father is, too. She is participating in the Peace Corps around the Santa Marta region, while I lived in Cartagena and did work in the surrounding areas for a year during a Fulbright Fellowship in 2014-15. Our paths were bound to cross and thanks to some mutual friends pointing me in her direction, they did. 

This spring, Ale and I are hosting our inaugural CONEXION LATINX workshop in the #ejecafetero region of Colombia. Of all the little coffee fincas and publos in the area, SALENTO seemed right for what we want to do: find ways to continue empowering and supporting womxn of color in their professional and personal pursuits. Colombia has everything it needs to push through into a brilliant future: deserts, the Amazon, rivers and waterfalls, cacao, café, granjas, tropical fruit and variety and biodiversity as far as the eye can see. We are using this metaphor of plenty, of having everything-we-need-we-have-within to ground us and set the scene for what we know will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for womxn who have never traveled to Colombia and are ready to engage in dialogue with other womxn who are at a crossroads in their lives with a personal or professional project. Ale fits this profile. So I thought I'd ask her directly to speak on a couple of themes that will inevitably come up as we continue to welcome new mujerxs into the fold. We can't wait to meet you!

Scarlet Macaw Trips (Sahara): Ale, what is TRAVEL LATINA?
Alexandra Tracy:
Travel Latina wants to empower Latinxs to travel, combat negative stereotypes and machismo, encourage them to connect with and embrace their roots, and ultimately, push for a more conscious traveler within.

SMT: What do you love about your community?
Ale:
I love how much our community helps and supports each other, how friendships have flourished, how travelers have met fellow travelers for local trips or international trips, and how it has even brought fruitful opportunities to some.

SMT: What was the impetus to collaborate with SMT on this #EJECAFETERO workshop?
Ale:
TL shares a similar vision to SMT where we want to create trip experiences tailored to the Latinx or Latina traveler.


SMT: What do you think your bloggers, readers, and ultimately, participants will get out of this workshop? i.e.,  why would YOU go to this workshop?
Ale:
We hope to bring Latinx together who want to expand TL, collaborate together, create trip experiences, and/or develop a platform that offers more than just trips or a network and online or physical community. I have several ideas myself of a type of online platform I want to create for Latinx explorers, but I'd rather not share publicly yet ;)
 

I would want to go to this workshop to meet ambitious, inspiring, firecracker Latinas/Latinxs who not only push me and others to be better, but who might also become my coworkers, collaborators, and/or influencers for life.

SMT: Fair enough :) What are you most looking forward to during this workshop in Salento?
Ale:
I'm looking forward to using the fertile ground as a metaphor for our ideas and dreams, combining our strengths and skills, and reaching out to our ancestors collectively for guidance.


 

SMT: Yes!  Finally, what is your favorite thing about Colombia...thus far?
Ale:
I have witnessed Colombia's major change in security since I took a long road-trip with my family in 2010 from Bogota to the coast, a trip that would have never happened between the years of 1980-2010. My favorite part about Colombia is the very visible and exciting increase in tourism in the past 8 years, which is not surprising from "the land of magical realism and enchantment," now that the violence has decreased. I want to contribute to sustainable tourism, development, and poverty-alleviation here.

 Finca Ocaso en SALENTO, COLOMBIA

Finca Ocaso en SALENTO, COLOMBIA


DROP US A LINE AT INFO@SCARLETMACAWTRIPS.COM for more info!


Early bird registration open through Feb. 1 and for pals registering together, early bird registration never ends...

CONEXION LATINX: Travel Latina x Scarlet Macaw Trip, Spring 2018

*Shared post from Travel Latina: Our workshop announcement! Please scroll down and leave your name and email to receive registration info.

This spring, we are teaming up with Travel Latina to host the first ever CONEXION LATINX in the beautiful eje cafetero region of Colombia. The week (slated for late March, early April, 2018) will be dedicated to personal and professional discovery, cultural growth and understanding via dynamic workshops, fun classes and immersion activities, dialogue, art making, and professional roundtable seminars.

IMG_3622.JPG

As entrepreneurs, we at Travel Latina and Scarlet Macaw are in the process of molding our passion projects into something sustainable and for the greater good. We suspect we are not alone in trying to get a passion project off the ground ...and so we are reaching out to our community.

We are inviting artists of all kinds, movers and shakers, entrepreneurs and adventurers to join us for a week in the eje cafetero region of Colombia to explore themes that we believe will help us galvanize growth in our personal, professional, spiritual, and emotional lives.  

As Latinxs, we believe we are stronger, smarter, and more powerful together.  We want to hear your stories, what you’re doing and dreaming, where you’re stuck, and how we can lend helping hands or facilitate a meeting of minds. Sharing insights from our respective experiences might inform the choices we make next.

Why Colombia?

  • Both Ale and Sahara (the founders of TL and SMT, respectively) have chosen to move there and are currently working on projects specifically linked to the country. With travel to Colombia booming, the time is right to host the first workshop for Latinx here in the rich soil of the coffee region. The fertile lands that produce world-class coffee, guanabana, banano, papaya, orchids - and more - can serve as a metaphor for what we hope to nurture with you throughout this week. What can we plant? What can we cultivate within our communities for the greater good?
  • We know the region and feel comfortable hosting you here.
  • A number of Ale’s travelers have passed through or want to return to Colombia. We think this is the right spot for our workshop not only because of the country´s breathtaking beauty but because the environment is inspiring and lends itself to community interaction and collaboration. Colombia will open our minds and serve as ground 0 for creating meaningful work.

This trip is right for you if:

  • You’re at a crossroads or on the ascent professionally
  • You’ve started a project and are seeking ideas or collaboration
  • You want to explore Colombia while collaborating with local women and supporting local entities
  • You are seeking an amazing travel experience (day trips, nature, beauty, music, good company) while seeking answers or feeling curious and want to explore your inklings with us
  • You are collaborative, driven, adventurous, and are craving a peer-to-peer experience
     

Goals for this trip experience & workshop:

  • To nurture this first cohort of Latinx Firecrackers from here on out; this group is for life - a growing network of Latinxs working in every sector from education to tech, art to medicine.
  • Support and strengthen you through this travel experience.
  • Provide a safe space in which to address everyone’s project, offering genuine support and honest feedback. Constructive criticism makes us stronger and equipped to take on big challenges.
  • Show our travelers other facets of Colombian society not often shown by western media.
  • Connect with: the earth, ancestral roots, each other, ourselves, local communities.
  • Bring back to our communities at home more reason to listen, watch, and learn from this generation of Latinx.

Stay tuned on social for further details about pricing, itinerary, and registration process - tentatively opening on February 1.

 We will be here together! Valle Cocora, salento. 

We will be here together! Valle Cocora, salento. 

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Spotlight: Tour Guide Extraordinaire

As I discovered a couple of years ago, you cannot walk down any street in El Centro in Cartagena with native Cartagenero and stellar tour guide Brayan Muñoz Crizon without running into someone he knows - an old teacher, a vendor, an emerald salesman, an old classmate, his mother's friend, another tour guide - every few steps.

"Vale mia!" he greets everyone. A hug, a high five, or an inside joke will follow. It's baffling to think this is the network he's grown within the city walls in just two years; what happens in 20?! He's one of Cartagena's youngest - and most energetic, knowledgeable, and passionate - tour guides. He is Cartagena's proudest native son; its forever champion! He knows everything from local baseball stats to the military terminology behind an otherwise romantic 'selfie spot' along the city walls!

Brayan is the founder of Cartagena Explore and has been working with both big and boutique travel agencies for several years. He likes baseball, the English language, bagels with cream cheese and lox, and goes hard all day everyday.

We wanted you to hear from a real Cartagenero before you join us en vivo. Follow along online with him here and here, and if you're already traveling, book him all for yourself here.

 

Scarlet Macaw Trips: Before you studied tourism, what did you know about the world, about travel and tourism in Cartagena?

Brayan: I didn’t know anything! I just thought anybody speaking another language was a gringo! When I was younger, I didn’t know many people from other cultures. Not a lot of people in my family have traveled, so what I knew I knew from soap operas.

SMT: Do you remember your first tour? How have you improved?

Brayan: My first tour was in 2014 here in Cartagena. I was very excited. I misspoke about a lot of facts and dates...but kept the energy. Since then I’ve improved my English a lot in conversation with different tourists every week. I’ve learned more about my own culture and city’s history, and I’m more confident. Every single tour you do you’re able to share and show more about yourself. I sprinkle each tour with a little bit of “Brayan…” I’m proud to be one of the youngest tour guides in Cartagena and I bring my own style to each tour I give.

SMT: You give a lot of energy to every tour (just ask The Black Tomato!). What characteristics do you think make a tour guide successful?

Brayan: My suggestion to all new tour guides is to only do one big tour a day so that you can give your all, your best, to the experience. I realize how lucky I am when companies come to me and trust me with their travelers, or if travelers (couples, families) come to me directly because of word-of-mouth referrals - I have to give it my all! When we’re together in Cartagena - I’m all yours. I’m very present and energetic. And, of course, you have to be humble, confident, and charming!

SMT: Would you say you possess those traits?
Brayan: Well…

 Brayan in Santa Marta, on a tour, of course...

Brayan in Santa Marta, on a tour, of course...

SMT: Do you have a crazy story from your early days as a guide you’d like to share?

Brayan: In late 2015 I was responsible for taking a family to Playa Blanca and Islas Rosarios (where SMT is taking you!). We went by boat. The ocean was very rough that day. And I didn’t know the boat captain or folks on the island too well. Because of the weather I thought it would be good to head back to El Centro but they were hungry and wanted to eat ahead of schedule. They wanted to go to a certain restaurant but I couldn’t get them a reservation! The boat captain said ‘no problem’ and that he would 'help me out' and that he knew a good restaurant nearby that didn’t charge too much and that was available for the family. Before getting all the details the family agreed. The food came, lunch was fine, and then, at the end when we were trying to leave, they tried to charge us an insane amount of money because we hadn’t settled on a price before we ate! I had to spend some minutes negotiating the price way down without alarming the tourists! I was so nervous.

Sometimes, I swear, I have nightmares about being the middleman!

SMT: Oh no! But to your point - travelers should know to always settle on the price before any exchange of services or purchases of goods have gone down, right?! You bring up an important issue, though, about traveling around Cartagena and knowing how important it is to work with someone you trust in new environments, especially when an exchange of goods and services are involved.

SMT: So, what about you? Where do you want to go?

Brayan: Everywhere! Obviously the West Indies because, well...I’m a Caribeño Guy! I would love to go anywhere. Everywhere, explore around. San Andres and Salento in Colombia. New York and Miami.

*Adjusts Brooklyn Nets hat over Skype*

SMT: Well, that makes sense! So, what can you share with people who might not know anything about Cartagena?

Brayan: Cartagena is hundreds of square miles. The touristy spots take up about 25-30% of the city and when they visit they mostly only see that much during their whole trip. I’d like to invite people to the ‘real’ side of Cartagena to see what people do for a living, what people do for fun, how they bring the bacon home, what music we listen to! What sports we play…Have you heard of Bate de Tapita?

SMT: No…

Brayan: Bate de Tapita is like casual baseball played with a bat and a bottle cap. I would love to show people how we play that!

SMT: How do you work on your tour guide practice everyday? How are you improving?

Brayan: When I’m not on the job I’m researching, learning about other tours I could give (currently: birds!), learning more about the history of Cartagena and Colombia. I’m always trying to find new or unique things I can bring to my tours. Even though I’m from here I have to keep learning about my culture and how I can share things about it.

SMT: Anything else you want to share?

Brayan: I want to thank all the tourists who believed in me from the beginning. And the teachers too (you know who you are…). I’m also excited about a new trip I’m working on which has to do with the African Diaspora here in the culture on the coast. Colombia is really diverse, really rich in culture.

Cartagena is the most important city to visit as a traveler to Colombia, I’d say! Here there is a mix of everything from people to food to culture - whatever it is you’re looking for, you can find it here…