By Dyson Mitchell, Brittany Berry and Tashana Noel
We started off the day by waking up early in the morning and taking the bus to the African village of Palenque. The drive was around 2 hours. Upon arrival, our tour guide for the day explained the history of Palenque to us. The people of Palenque spoke Bantu which was a mixture of Spanish, French, Portuguese, and African dialects.
We all got a chance to try and play the drums that they had available and then it was time for the tour to start. We stopped at the bathroom which had to be flushed by pouring a bucket of water and soap into the toilet. We walked around the village. There was a plethora of poverty and most people walked barefoot from place to place. However, the culture was amazing and made the trip an awesome experience. We learned how to prepare corn and rice by smashing it and making it into a powder for arepas and other meals. We heard the Palenque music and saw many animals. A man demonstrated how to weave a carpet out of straw and we got the chance to try it out. While walking, we saw children going to school in their uniforms.
After an hour tour of the village, we stopped at a local restaurant to eat lunch. The owner of the restaurant ran the restaurant in her house. For lunch, we ate rice prepared with coconut milk, a large fish, and a cucumber salad. Those who didn’t want fish received a bowl of fruit. We used large banana leaves as our plates and ate with wooden spoons.
After lunch, we got the chance to buy bracelets and other souvenirs from the locals who were selling things prior to going back to Cartagena. The entire experience at Palenque was amazing and we loved embracing ourselves in the culture and humbling ourselves to be a part of the Palenque people’s lifestyles.
After we got back, it was around 3 or 4. So, we decided that some of us were gonna go to the supermarket to buy some snacks for the rest of the trip. We walked to a huge supermarket called Éxito. It had four floors. Everyone walked around and picked up snacks they wanted to bring back to the hotel and try. Then, we got in line and paid.
After, we walked back buying empanadas, organic fruit, and juice from local markets on the streets. Once we got back, it was around time for dinner so we showered and got dressed. We went to a beautiful outdoor restaurant named San Diego Restaurante. As per usual, we had several choices for appetizers, entrees, drinks, and dessert.
After dinner, the chaperones surprised us with a party bus paid for by them as a reward for our good behavior throughout the last three days. We hopped on the bus and rode around town for an hour, dancing to the rhythms of Colombian music. We had so much fun. We even stopped at a gorgeous monument to take group pictures and continue our singing and dancing. After a long night, the bus drove us home and we all went straight to bed.