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“How was Colombia?” was the first question we were asked once we returned from our 30-day Work Away. There’s no singular answer, but we’ll walk you through the top three reasons why Colombia should be your next travel destination.


Imagine visiting a destination surrounded by water, 32 degrees and sunny almost every day. That is Cartagena. Known as one of South America’s most vibrant cities, it’s located right on the coast of Colombia (not Columbia). Home to sandy beaches, historic buildings and a vibrant nightlife, there is always something to do. 

This historic city has a lot to offer its visitors. We stayed steps away from the walled city, created from coral and initially built to protect its citizens from foreign invasions. To truly get to know the city, we booked a walking tour to visit some monumental buildings and museums. Some spots we highly recommend include Monumento Torre del Reloj, Monumento India Catalina, La Gorda Gertrudis, and all the churches in the wall. We’d also highly recommend finishing the walk by watching an iconic sunset at Café del Mar. We experienced our first Colombian sunset there—it remains unmatched. 

If you’re looking for a neighbourhood filled with history, art, music and life, Getsemani is a must. Just 10 minutes from the walled city, you can discover the famous umbrella street for your perfect Instagrammable moment. During the day, this beautiful and bright neighbourhood turns into a lively and music-filled block party. Here you’ll find visitors and locals drinking, laughing and playing dominos in the streets. We ended our night enjoying fresh pressed juices and trying our first extra cheesy arepas, a traditional stuffed cornmeal cake known as one of Colombia’s staples.


Food was a huge part of our decision as to why we chose Colombia. Whether it was breakfast, lunch or dinner, this seafaring city has some of the best food South America offers.

Walking in 32-degree weather, it was important to stay hydrated. And we definitely did with Colombia’s street limonada (lemonade made with lime) and limonada de coco (lemonade made with lime and coconut). This refreshing drink got us through the hottest days in the city. There was rarely a day you wouldn’t find us with a version of limonada in one hand and patacones in the other. 

You cannot go to Colombia without trying patacones—delicious twice-fried green plantain slices found on the side of almost every meal. To have the most authentic food experience, we signed up for a Street Food Walking Tour, where we were brought to the most popular patacones spot in the city. This spot was so popular that although all the other vendors were removed from the strip at one point, the mayor loved it so much that he allowed it to stay. Whether you like yours with cheese or as is, it’s the perfect daytime snack. We also tried other Colombian staples like kibbe, shrimp cocktails, Colombian coffee, empanadas and more!

How can we talk about Colombia without mentioning the ceviche? Whether it was just fish, shrimp or a mixture of seafood, we couldn’t get enough. We even visited La Cevicheria, a renowned spot that was a favourite of Anthony Bourdain. Other noteworthy spots include Alma, Cande, Baruco and Celele (considered one of Latin America’s top 50 restaurants).

We booked a Cooking with a Chef Tour to get to know traditional Colombian food. This took us back to the basics of what makes Colombian food so important to the locals. We took turns prepping the food while learning about the ingredients for each dish. We even expertly cracked open our first coconuts. Course one was Ceviche. This dish was freshly made and packed with lime, onions, avocado and topped with a homemade banana crema. Next, we made a traditional Colombian soup, leading to our main entrée. The slow-cooked beef over coconut rice made this experience that much more memorable. We highly recommend doing a cooking class anywhere you travel. Was this an incredible meal? Yes. Was it our favourite? We had to go to a small town called Palenque for that.


You’ve probably seen the women of Palenque adorned in colourful dresses and wearing fruit baskets on their heads. Despite seeing them everywhere, we knew nothing about their history. During our walking tour, we discovered Cartagena was one of the largest slave ports in North America. Because of this, the current locals are a mixture of the Indigenous peoples, African people who were enslaved and Spanish colonizers.

Looking for a better life, the enslaved peoples escaped and founded a new town called San Basilio de Palenque. Palenque is now known as the first free town in the Americas. Despite the dark history, Palenque’s culture and traditions have survived intact, which is why in 2005, UNESCO declared San Basilio de Palenque a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

We decided to take the time for a final tour to learn more about this historic town. About an hour away from our stay, this city was even hotter than the walled city. The excursion started with the city’s history and taught us a few new words. One of our first activities was spending time with the locals, who showed us customary dances and allowed us to create music on the traditional drums they used. 

We were introduced to their local medicine man, discovered monuments and learned about the history of braiding. We learned that grain was braided into hair and, through intricate braid patterns, individuals even laid out escape paths for enslaved peoples.

Our final site visit was to a traditional home where they shared their food-making process. At the end of the tour, we met chef Flor Salas, who competes (and wins) internationally for her Palenque cooking. Here we enjoyed Palenque fried fish, chicken, coconut rice and, of course, patacones. We left this tour with full bellies and full hearts. We highly recommend Black Legacy Experiences and want to specifically shout them out for the amazing experience they provided. 

As two Black women with Caribbean immigrant family members, the stories we heard hit close to home. Being in a space with so much dark but important history was unforgettable. 

Working from Cartagena was a much-needed break from the city and turned out to be a heartwarming experience with memories and friendships sure to last a lifetime. Thank you, Media Profile, for giving us the opportunity to experience this culture, cuisine and build these connections. If we had to use one word to describe how Colombia was, it would be “Jarocho” (happiness in Palenquero).

Curious to learn more about MP’s adventures abroad? Stay tuned for future Our Take #PassportToMP blog posts where employees will share their work away experiences..

Tyonna Shears

Aaliyah Corbin

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