Colombia is famously a nation of distinct regions – and perhaps even more famously a nation of strong musical tradition. Every part of the country has given rise to or adopted its own distinct musical style, from cumbia on the Caribbean coast to the piping Andean melodies in the southwest. But perhaps no place takes its musical birthright as seriously as the northern city of Valledupar, the proclaimed cradle of the folk style known as vallenato.
If you go to Valledupar looking for something other than vallenato, you may run out of activities fairly quickly, but there’s a certain charm to taking a long lunch – and then maybe a nap to avoid the brutal midday heat – and relaxing in the central plaza with a cup of icy pineapple juice.
Photo: Terra Hall
Alakazam, alakazoo, witches roam the streets of Lima, Peru.
With Halloween just around the corner, I decided to head to Lima’s Mercado de las Brujas, or Witches’ Market. While these witches don’t wear pointed hats or fly on broomsticks, they do cook up powerful potions and folk remedies said to cure everything from a hangover to a broken heart.
Photo: Jorge Lascar
Tourists visiting Buenos Aires for the first time always ask the same question: where can we watch tango? The answer isn’t so straightforward – but for the sake of simplicity, you generally have three options: on the street, at a milonga (tango club) or at a tourist-oriented tango show.
Photo: McKay Savage
It all started in 1968 when U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed that he wanted to celebrate one of the fastest growing populations in America – Latinos. Thus, National Hispanic Heritage Week was born. Fast forward to 1989 and that week-long observance was turned into a full month of celebrating the culture and traditions of people who are from or trace their roots to Spain, Mexico or the Spanish-speaking nations from Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off each year on Sept. 15 and it’s for good reason – this day is Independence Day for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Additionally, Mexico and Chile celebrate their Independence from Spain on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.
While Peru commemorates its Fiestas Patrias - the day the nation broke away from Spain – on July 28, Peruvians by birth and by association (you know, those who just love all things Peru) can still celebrate the Andean nation through Oct. 15.
Here’s our three-step guide to celebrating this month-long American tradition with an air of Peruvian flair!
Photo: Omar Baez Camarena
Colombia is a music-loving country. From the northern tip of the Guajira peninsula to the southern reaches of the Colombian Amazon, the nation pulses with the beats of drums, guitars, percussion and, yes, accordions.
But it’s not a homogenous sound – rather, it’s a symphony of different rhythms, instruments and beats. Each region of the country has its own distinct musical tradition, developed from different cultural influences and the backgrounds of the people living there.
Sometimes it seems like each and every individual town has its own particular musical styling. One of the most important and uniquely Colombian genres, however, is cumbia, a traditional rhythm that blends the musical influences of many of the diverse cultures and ethnicities on Colombia’s Caribbean coast and continues to provide inspiration for many of the most popular Colombian bands today.
Photo: La Noche en Blanco Bogota
This weekend, Bogotá’s bohemian La Soledad neighborhood stayed up well past its bedtime to celebrate the city’s artists and creative types with La Noche en Blanco (“White Night”).
The event, now in its second year in the capital, closed the streets of a popular central neighborhood to cars and opened them to pedestrians, bikers, dogs and art enthusiasts, who strolled freely between performance spaces and projection screens from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturday, September 27.
It’s nearly impossible to go anywhere in Colombia without hearing music or seeing people dancing, but the second weekend of September kicks that rhythm into another gear, offering not one, but two world-class events for jazz lovers traveling to Colombia; from the Andean interior to the Caribbean coast.
Photo: Natalie Southwick
As if there weren’t already enough happening in Colombia in August — with Bogotá’s Summer Festival, Medellín’s Flower Festival and the Petronio Álvarez celebration of Afro-Colombian music and culture in Cali – central Colombia’s favorite colonial town, Villa de Leyva, has to get in on the action with a colorful celebration of its own.
Photo: Jorge Gomez
I know August isn’t a popular month back where I’m from, but it’s my favorite month in Bogotá. For Bogotanos, there are generally only two seasons: if it’s sunny, it’s summer; if it’s raining, it’s winter. This can be intensely confusing for anyone who was taught that it’s impossible to have more than one season in a given day, but that’s generally how it works. Except in August.