In honor of Colombia’s Independence Day and because I’m a very proud daughter of a Colombian-born woman, today I’m sharing the top 5 things you should know about Colombia.
5. Colombia has great music
Colombia is home to one of the Salsa capitals of the world, Cali. If you’ve grown up listening to salsa music, you may recognize the sounds of “Cali Pachanguero” by Grupo Niche or “Las Caleñenas Son Como las Flores” by The Latin Brothers. Even Oscar de Leon, the great Venezuelan salsa singer, wrote an ode to Colombia with his anthem “Yo Me Voy Pa’ Cali”.
Here is my favorite Salsa song ever – “Rebellion” by the late, great Joe Arroyo. It’s the tale of a slave’s uprising after his master strikes his beloved. The music video was filmed in Cartagena, Colombia [the album was released in 1986].
But Salsa isn’t our only beloved musical genre. Cumbia is a derivative of African music brought over by slaves. The short shuffled steps of Cumbia are said to resemble the steps slaves made while chained. Vallenato is another wonderful folkloric genre born in Colombia. These genres are so popular in Colombia and throughout Latin America that they were both added as categories in the Latin Grammy Awards in 2006.
Also see: Shakira, Juanes & Bomba Estereo
4. Colombia has delicious food
Like many Latin American countries, Colombia doesn’t fall behind as a gastronomic gem. My favorite dish in the whole world is Sancocho – a hearty stew featuring, cassava (yuca), plantains, potatoes and often a mixture of meats (but oxtail is my favorite kind).
Also, have you ever heard of a Bandeja Paisa? It’s an everything but the kitchen sink type of dish that once fed and fueled the field workers of Colombia. Now, it’s a decadent meal that just about kills any craving you could have for a lunch or dinner.
3. Colombia is rich in culture and the arts
You may have heard of 100 Years of Solitude by the late great Gabriel García Márquez. It’s often called one of the best works of Latin American literature (and my personal favorite novel). The book documents Colombia’s romance between fact/history and folklore/Tradition. This is exquisite dance is known as Magical Realism.
You should also know that Colombia is the birthplace one of the most forged artists in the world, Fernando Botero. Christie’s once had to cancel an auction because they discovered that their painting of “The Dancers” was a [very good] fake.
2. Colombia has stunning landscapes and destinations
Colombia is often called a land of extremes. It is home to the snow-covered Andes Mountains, Northern deserts, the Chocó jungle, and the Amazon basin. My family is from Medellín – the second largest city in the country and the heart of the Antioquia region. Bogotá, the Capital, is one of the 25 largest cities in the world. There, the modern cityscapes co-exist with historical landmarks. But my favorite destination to recommend is Cartagena. This port city features the walled Colonial city and modern beach-side resorts.
1. Colombia is one of the happiest places on Earth
No, seriously. It is! According to a poll by Gallup, Colombia was the happiest country in the world for 2 years in a row (2013-2014) and was pronounced the second happiest in 2015.
Have you ever been? Are you interested in visiting one day? Let me now in the comment section below. I’d love to share some advice and/or recommendations.