Immerse yourself into the vibrant culture of Colombia

It’s always nice to investigate and inquire a little deeper into the place that you’re going to visit. Not only does it get the excitement and travel juices flowing, it goes some way to preparing you for what lays ahead.

Reading a book or listening to a bit of music may be the introduction to get your trip started in the right way – and it may also direct you a little in terms of what you’re interested in seeing and doing whilst you’re over here.

We think it’s important to add depth to your knowledge about the place that you’re going to visit – the more you know about somewhere, the more you respect it and the more chance you have of falling in love with it. That’s what we’ve found anyway – that’s why we never get bored of investigating into Colombia and the places that we’re lucky enough to see and experience – it only expands our already great love for the place.

For these reasons, we felt it important to put together some Colombian Project Book, Music and Film lists that will hopefully give you a bit more of an insight into this wonderful country.

 

Literature:

  1. A Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Magical Realism at its best. The Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to Gabriel in 1982 for this book. He is regarded as Colombia’s greatest modern author. Inspiration for Colombia’s new tourism drive.
  2. One River – Wade Davis. National Geographic’s in-house explorer, anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis’ account of his mentor and world renowned ethnobotanist Richard Evan’s Schultes’ journey through the then unexplored Colombian Amazon. A masterpiece and a must-read for those serious Colombia enthusiasts interested in knowing more about Colombia’s indigenous culture’s secrets.
  3. Colombia: A Nation in Spite of Itself – David Bushnell. This is the first attempt at documenting the country’s history in English. An academic’s insight into the topsy-turvy history of Colombia from pre-Columbian times through to present day.
  4. Field Guide to the Birds of Colombia – Miles McMullan, Thomas M. Donegan and Alonso Quevedo. The latest Bird Guide with over 1880 species found within. A handbook, it is very useful for field identification and light to carry.
  5. Once Upon a Time There Was Colombia – William Ospina. A book written by a poet, William Ospina tries to capture the complexity of a country torn by a long internal conflict but blessed with amazing historical,cultural and natural riches. Amazing photos within.
  6. A Guide to the Birds of Colombia – Steven L. Hilty and William L. Brown. Published in 1986, this is one of the most complete Neo-tropical bird guides in existence and for birders in or around Colombia, it’s a bible. With nearly 1700 species catalogued this is a serious birder’s must-have for any visit to Colombia.
  7. The Coffee Book: Anatomy of an Industry from Crop to the Last Drop – Gregory Dicum and Nina Luttinger. Read up on the industry that has given Colombia international fame in being one of the best Coffee providers on the planet.
  8. Killing Pablo – Mark Bowden. A critically acclaimed and well investigated account of the final months of the richest criminal on the planet, Pablo Escobar. A harrowing story of opulence, terror and determination to bring world’s number 1 fugitive to justice.
  9. The Penguin History Of Latin America – Edwin Williamson

 

Guides

  1. Bradt Travel Guide – Colombia

 

Music

  1. La Rebelion – Joe Arroyo (Salsa) The late, great ‘El Joe’ Arroyo, arguably Colombia’s greatest Salsa and Tropical musician ever. Joe, who died in July 2011 released this, one of Colombia’s favourite and most famous salsa songs and consolidated his position as an all-time great.
  2. Cali Pachanguero – Grupo Niche (Salsa) Grupo Niche, originating from Cali were the band during the 80’s and for the next 20 years, releasing hit after hit after hit. Their co-founder and super-talented lyricist Jairo Valera died last year. Cali Pachanguero is the signature tune for Cali and captures Grupo Niche’s amazing musical abilities.
  3. La Pollera Colora – Typical Orchestra. An original ‘Cumbia’ – traditional music from the Caribbean coast of Colombia, with heavy African, Spanish and indigenous influences and rhythms. This particular Cumbia is one of the most well-known.
  4. Colombia Mi Tierra Querida – Typical Ochestra. A patriotic and inspiring song for every Colombian.
  5. No Pasara lo Mismo – Rafael Orozco (Vallenato). Vallenato – another Caribbean music originating from the city of Valledupar located to the South-East of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The accordion – an instrument of German origin has been adopted by Colombians and is used widely in Colombian music, both popular and folkloric.

 

Films

  1.  The Colours of The Mountain – This is a brilliantly made film about a young ‘campesino’ boy, his friends and his family, set in rural Colombia about 10 or so years ago. They have to deal with the internal conflict between left-wing guerillas and paramilitaries that has affected millions of lives across the country. International film award winner.
  2. Maria Full of Grace –  Released in 2003 it won critical acclaim as it describes the story of a young Colombian woman being roped into being a drugs mule.
  3. Apaporis: In search of one river – Initially released in 2010, this excellent documentary describes the lives of the Cabiyari and Cubeo people, living alongside the mythical Apaporis river,deep in the war-locked Colombian Amazon. Has won various international film awards.
  4. El Paramo (The Squad) – A fun horror/thriller set around an army special squad who lose contact with their base, high up in the Colombian mountains, deep in the cold and misty ‘Paramo’. Filmed on site!