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.