A trip to Barranquilla
"A trip to Barranquilla"
One of the cities of which I have the best and more pleasant memories is Barranquilla, the biggest coastal city in Colombia. I appreciate the kindness of its people, the beauty of its women and the atmosphere that invites you to remain there, between the sandy breeze, the heat and the magic of the Colombian Caribbean coast.
Unlike Cartagena and Santa Marta (the other two great cities of the Colombian Atlantic coast), Barranquilla is not a seaport and their tourist sites are not so emphasized (although it is an ideal city to live); nevertheless, a lot of places of interest for the tourists are near there.
I’ve visited this city once or twice a year, mainly for work reasons. On most of the occasions, my visits only lasted two days. I usually go to places that already I know like the hotel Barranquilla Plaza and the University of the Atlántico. In spite of this, I’ve always felt a cosy atmosphere and consider it like a second home.
Last October, I had the opportunity to stay in Barranquilla for five consecutive days and I went to nearby towns like Soledad and Sabanalarga. Moreover, I made a trip to Cartagena by bus across the "route of the sea", I listened to Vallenatos, Porros and Vumbias (native musical rhythms of Colombia) on the local radio stations, I enjoyed the seafood and I had a time to meditate while I walked almost in the dark along the immense pier of Puerto Colombia (the longest in the world at its time) and in a tour de force I made a route through some known sites in the city like the zoo, the municipal theatre, the metropolitan stadium, the square of La Paz and the Buenavista shopping centre, during the last day of my stay.
Although it was a very expensive route (because I had to take many taxis), I will remember this trip to Barranquilla like one of the most pleasant than I have been in the last few years, but I recommend tourists to dedicate more time to know these places without rushing (I hope to be able to do that some day). In addition, the best months to visit Barranquilla are February and March, because at that time of the year the Barranquilla’s Carnival is celebrated and this is one of the most important folkloric celebrations of Latin America, next to the carnival of Rio de Janeiro. Barranquilla is considered "the Golden Door of Colombia", the departure point for a fascinating trip all over this wonderful country.
view from hotel terrace
sancocho de bocachico, coconut rice and aguapanela
Torito del Carnaval de Barranquilla
I need transitioning assistance
I will move to Barranquilla in September 2010 to immerse myself in Spanish. I have 2 semesters of spanish learned. I am mexican american. I want to attend immediately a university there to continue advancing my spanish language studies. I need help immediatley learning about money exchange rates and getting a decent, safe, close to the university apartment. I am fifty years old and retired. Please help me and let me know what to do and what not to do at first.
Re: I need transitioning assistance
First off, what to do is to survive while you’re still green in Barranquilla. Second off in your case is to get yourself a set of Colombian threads (clothes, ropa) so that you don’t stand out too much while you’re exploring the streets of Barranquilla.
For your information, the español that you will learn to speak in Barranquilla is a fast, slangy, corta dialect that people in the USA will have one heck of a time understanding. But you will be one cool-talking dude when you get back home. You will also be one hip, musical guy because the north coast of Colombia is the home to some really great cumbia, salsa, meringue, and vallenato music.
Sounds like you will be there for a while, so it might be best if you can set-up an account with an international bank that is represented in Barranquilla (maybe Bank of America or Citibank). That way your funds will be safe and you won’t have to fret about carrying too much cash around with you.
As an aside, I recommend that you investigate studying español somewhere in the sierra (uplands, mountain regions and altiplano) of Peru or Bolivia, as the español spoken in the sierra is a slower-spoken, more pure español that does not have the caribbean, criollo or selvatic influences to the language, i.e., regional dialects prevalent on the coast or in the selva region. With that said, you might consider the following cities for your Spanish studies:
Peru: Cusco, Ayacucho, Cajamarca, Arequipa.
Bolivia: La Paz, Cochabamba, Potosi, Sucre.
You won't go wrong if you choose to drop anchor in any of the above cities and enroll in a Spanish language program.
It’s been a while since I traveled around Colombia, so I can’t tell you what the local exchange rate is for the dollar, but I can tell you that you should avoid carrying $100 bills, as there are too many counterfeit ones around and people oftentimes don’t want to change them.
Best of luck to you,