One evening in November, I arrived at a seaside village on the Pacific Coast of Colombia called Juanchaco. I hadn't heard of the place until seeing it mentioned in a poorly written travel guide book that I picked up in a hostel. I was soaking wet after a nearly two hour ride in a small motor propelled boat. I got off the boat, found a basic hotel, and changed my clothes. I wandered over to the festival underway right at the shore. School kids from all over the area had come to celebrate their communities through traditional dance and song. A troupe of black girls, all rockin' afro hairstyles and dressed in vibrant colors recited the poem Me Gritaron Negra (They Called Me Black) by Afro-Peruvian poet Victoria Santa Cruz. Throughout the poem, the performers were reciting, "negra!, negra!, negra!" (black!, black! black! They called me black!"). During this performance, I could feel the pride expressed by the audience, and by the young girls reveling in their own beauty and power. At that moment, I knew that I had to find a way to show to the world how much value there is to be found in Afro-Latin communities.
Back to the travel guide: Travel guides that I have used had often slyly demeaned or overlooked black communities as if there is nothing of interest to be seen or experienced by travelers. These guides are often written by people who have no interest in supporting communities that are often marginalized, exploited, and abused. When reading one-line descriptions of these places, key words and phrases often include: dangerous, unsafe, and uninteresting, or lack of amenities. As a black traveler I resent that narrative, and have decided that I will counter it through the mission of AfroBuenaventura.
AfroBuenaventura will feature my travels to communities of people of African descent that live in Latin America. I will share my experiences to reveal that Afro-Latin communities are valuable, and that there are great travel experiences to be had, and lessons to be learned from the people that live there. A large part of this includes positively impacting communities by taking up accommodations in those communities, eating in local restaurants, and buying goods sourced and made in those communities.
AfroBuenaventura will explore Afro-Latin communities with respect, intelligence, and in ways that promote and maintain the dignity of the featured communities.
AfroBuenaventura will share the stories of individuals in these communities. When I visit Afro-Latin communities, I create a rapport, and build relationships, telling stories about their histories, realities, challenges, and triumphs. You can witness thru my Instagram feed as I feature the stories of individuals that I meet.
AfroBuenaventura will create opportunities for travelers of all backgrounds to discuss and explore Afro-Latin communities in a positive tone. Additionally, I will show you how I travel, so that you may be encouraged, and gain understanding of how accessible it can be for busy working professionals. You can join weekly #TravelThoughtThursday chats on my Facebook page and Twitter feed and respond to the featured travel-related topics, and get real answers from me.
AfroBuenaventura will be the leading source on travel, exploration, and celebration of Afro-Latin communities.