Cartagena is a city of extremes. The old town's charming colonial buildings contrast with the ultra modern Bocagrande and its contemporary high rises. But far from either lays the barrio of San Francisco, one of the poorest areas of the city, but one full of promise for the future. During this Cartagena Barrio Tour, we'll visit the Barrio San Francisco with a local community leader, spend a bit of time volunteering at the youth center that he runs, and finish up with a home-cooked meal at his house—or, more often, on the street in front. This is an immersive, alternative way to experience real Cartagena life, and part of our Deep Travel Project
Cartagena Barrio Tour
The port of Cartagena welcomes thousands of visitors every year, but centuries ago it was the point of arrival for very different ships—those bringing African slaves to the new Spanish colony. It's therefore not surprising that the city has the country's highest population of Colombian Africans, making up 70% of the city's residents—many of whom now live in the low-income community of San Francisco. With a high level of illiteracy, there are few opportunities for the area's youth to break the cycle of poverty. Realizing that learning English was one of the keys to his own success, Alex Rocha decided to do something to help his community by initiating a youth center in 2012, a big project which is about 50% built.
Advancing Through Education
After being picked up by Alex and a driver in town, we'll head out to San Francisco, during which time we'll start learning about the area. Arriving at the youth center, we'll meet the local children and do a little hands-on English teaching with them; they might even teach us a little Spanish through this interactive and engaging experience together. We'll also see the progress on the center, hear more about its development and activities improving literacy, computer skills, and creative expression, all of which give the children it serves brighter prospects.
It might be hard to tear ourselves away from the enthusiastic kids, but a delicious meal prepared by Alex's wife awaits; we'll retreat to our host's home located in the shadow of a new school being built by the pop star Shakira to enjoy a customary local dinner.
As part of our Deep Travel Project
this is a unique opportunity to learn about Afro-Caribbean culture and the reality of Barrio life in Cartagena, meet some amazing people, and make a difference for tomorrow's future generations.
The cost of this tour includes a tax-deductible donation of 50 USD to the Context Foundation for Sustainable Travel
, which is then passed on to the youth center (100%). Your donation is then matched by the Foundation. After your experience, should you wish to make a further charitable donation to the youth center, let us know so we can make arrangements.
NOTE FOR BOOKING: As this walk is lead by a prominent community leader, we need as much advanced notice of your desired tour date as possible. Also if you have additional availability during your stay, please explain this in the NOTES section during checkout in case the docent is already with a commitment on the date you have chosen.
Read Up, Listen Up!
Find out more about this unique Deep Travel experience in our writeup on the Alex Rocha Youth Center
and in a specially created audio episode by Indie Travel Podcast:
Photo credits: Alex Rocha, indietravelpodcast.com, and dontforgettomove.com
Is San Francisco safe?
Yes, as the docent is a community leader, you are in excellent hands and we've never had any negative incidences occur during this excursion.
I have specific dietary restrictions, can I still participate?
Please let us know these in advance in your trip notes and we'll double check with the docent, though most dietary restrictions can be taken into consideration.