The African Diaspora (the nations in the Western Hemisphere and Western Africa in which the slaves arrived or departed) are great places to visit to better understand the modern world. The regions in the Diaspora possess a diversity that provides an invaluable cultural education. Food, religion, and sports all exude African, European, and Native American traditions that exemplify the best of all cultures. But best of all, the people in these areas really know how to enjoy life! Given the need for respite from the harshness of slavery, perhaps it is no coincidence that the areas where the trade was predominant are also the areas where today people really know how to party, eat well, and appreciate cultural diversity.
Some most-see parts of the Diaspora include:
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Salvador, Bahia (Brazil)
New Orleans, Louisiana
Haiti and the Dominican Republic
Panama City, Panama
and, up and coming, Cartagena, Colombia. That’s right. With the continuing economic recession, people have been asking me where they can travel within the Diaspora and enjoy the type of cultural smorgasborg one experiences in Rio de Janeiro. With the upcoming World Cup and Olympic Games, prices on flights to Rio have skyrocketed. Likewise, apartment and hotel rates are at the lowest around $100US/night. But Cartagena, a diamond in the rough, is still awaiting its turn on the world stage. And, this turn will come! I highly suggest people visit now before Colombia becomes more visible on the travel radar screen. To me Cartagena is in terms of costs where Rio de Janiero was around 2000-2004 ($500-$700 US flights from California, apartments for $40/night, and lots of food, wine, women, and song!). But once places become tourist hot spots, the airlines raise their rates drastically and renters do the same.
Cartagena is a playground on Colombia’s coast, with a population of about 800,000. Smaller than Rio (but what isn’t???) but still a large city, Cartagena has more than enough attractions to keep travelers busy. In fact, Cartagena is so much fun that yesterday some U.S. Secret Service Agents working on President Obama’s detail in Cartagena for the Summit of the America’s got sent home after getting involved with Colombian prostitutes!