They thought we were crazy. After all of the work we had done in the Cauca Valley and the mountains of Colombia, we were on our way to beautiful Cartagena, on the north coast of Colombia, for a little rest before the opening of the annual AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) congress for Colombia.
But a few days earlier a friend in Barranquilla asked us (Lyda Franky, my good friend, translator, and head of the AMI affiliate for this country) and I, if we would come to see her brand new school and perhaps give a public lecture. So we were met at the Cartagena airport upon arrival, driven 2+ hours to Barranquilla to do what we could to help this tiny new school, and driven back, still with a few hours to rest before the congress begins.
Most people from outside the country are familiar with the beautiful tourist destinations of the coast of this country, but I always enjoy seeing the typical villages, shops, people going about their daily lives. There was plenty of this between the two cities.
And the Mangrove swamps hugged the coast. This was especially interesting to us because the theme of the upcoming congress on community used the Mangrove as its logo – more on that in the next blog post.
Tatiana Valera and I had met three years ago when she was my guide and companion traveling to Armenia, Colombia. You might enjoy seeing this trip:
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The school was lovely. Of course, that was to be expected as she had received her Montessori training from Coral Ruiz at the AMI Montessori “Instituto Paulini” in Puebla, Mexico. But there are always fine details to talk about and she was buoyed in hearing that my own school, many years ago in Michigan, began with only three students and had a waiting list by the end of the first year.
Tati had even more surprises for us than her new school.
As we headed down the road for a special lunch I noticed cars, motorcycles, bicycles, even baby strollers, making their way through flooded streets, with the water running and splashing everywhere. “Is this because of global warming?” I asked? “No, it happens every time it rains and is especially deep when the moon is full as this week.” Later I was to see the same thing when back in Cartagena. The “flood” street signs should have been a clue.
Tati already knew that I eat vegan diet as much as possible to she hosted us at the restaurant on the grounds where she studies meditation and yoga. The desert, chocolate brownies sweetened with medjool dates served with ice cream sweetened with frozen bananas, were just like home.
As always, I am interested in the beautiful plant life. Here is an example of a typical tropical tree of this area of the world.
And look at this water tower “Humboldt” (the country where I live in California). Everywhere we looked there was beauty, of nature, and of the artistic managers of this special place.
THE CARNIVAL MUSEUM
But Tati was not finished sharing her city with us. She had not yet visited the new carnival museum, which was the biggest treat of the day for all three of us.
Barranquilla’s carnival is the biggest celebration of folklore in all Colombia and one of the world’s largest carnivals, with more than a hundred years of tradition. The festivities run for four days and Colombians and visitors alike party in the streets in a colorful celebration of Colombian culture. UNESCO declared the Barranquilla Carnival a Masterpiece of Humanity’s Intangible and Oral Heritage in 2003.
More information here:
I have seen amazing pictures of the dresses warn in the carnival of Brasil, and experienced a bit of it when living in St. Croix, USVI years ago, but nothing like the dresses in this museum.
We could even dance and pretend that carnival was now.
For many years it has been the situation that during carnival there is work, and salaries, for all. But for the rest of the year there is poverty. This museum, and the crafts shop at the entrance, has been created to provide work for many all during the year. If you are going to be in Barranquilla I highly recommend visiting this museum.
And to end this blog post I am sharing a picture of Lyda and myself, never looking stronger or more beautiful.
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