Colonial Colombia in Colorful Cartagena

Colonial Colombia in Colorful Cartagena

Cartagena, our last stop in South America, turned out to be our favorite city in Colombia!  The city was founded by the Spanish in 1533 is now deservedly a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Shortly after it’s founding, the city was attacked by famous pirate Sir Francis Drake, which scared the Spanish and led them to build huge walls and fortifications all around the city.

Colonial Colombia in Colorful Cartagena
Fire the cannons!

The colorful colonial buildings with vine-covered balconies and the narrow, twisting streets are great for picture-taking and endless exploration.  A truly beautiful, albeit hot, coastal city.

Colonial Colombia in Colorful Cartagena

Colonial Colombia in Colorful Cartagena

Cartagena also has a shining modern skyline of skyscrapers, creating an interesting contrast with the 16th century old town.

Colonial Colombia in Colorful Cartagena

Awash in vibrant colors, history, and charm, Cartagena was a great last stop in South America!  It’s also where all the private sailboats to Panama depart, and that voyage is what we’re doing now!  Hasta luego, South America!  I’m sure we’ll be back someday!

Colonial Colombia in Colorful Cartagena

Enjoy this post about colonia Caragena in colorful Colombia? Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

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Potosí, City of Silver

The history of Potosí, Bolivia, is a long and sad tale.  The city rests at a lofty 13,420 feet, making it one of the highest cities in the world.  Founded in 1546 as a mining town, the population soon exploded to more than 200,000 people, making it one of the largest cities in the world.  This population boom was caused by the discovery of large amounts of silver in the Cerro Ricco, a mountain overlooking the town.  Between 1556 and 1783, more than 41,000 metric tons of silver we mined from the mountain, most of which was exported back to Spain.  Some of the silver remained in the city of Potosí, which became one of the top three richest cities in the world.  But soon the silver began to run out and around 1800 the population started a strong decline.

Cerro Ricco

Silver and minerals are still mined in the mountain today.  In dusty and dangerous mines, thousands of local people continue to search for the precious metal.  The workers in the mines range from young children (less than 10 years old), to old men, although the average life span for a life-long miner is only 35-40 years.  Since the opening of the mine, over 8 million miners have lost their lives inside the mines.  This number reflects only the people who have died of accidents in the mines, not those whose lungs fail after years of breathing the toxic dust (almost every life-long miner).  Most of those who died where either of the indigenous population, or imported African slaves.

With the mines still operating and no less dangerous than ever, Potosí is a very sad and depressing city.  With a lack of other jobs in the area, children who have lost their fathers in the mine are forced to enter it themselves at a very young age, with little hope of escaping.  Next time you buy something made of silver, think about where it comes from because it might have come to your finger through the hard and dangerous work of Bolivian children.

So, how many lives is an ounce of silver worth?

For more info, we suggest the amazing documentary “The Devil’s Miner.”

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Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent

Seven years after Open Veins of Latin America was published, the author, Eduardo Galeano, added a postword chapter.  In it, he summed up the book, stating “This book was written to have a talk with people.  A non-specialized writer wanted to tell a non-specialized public about certain facts that official history, history as told by conquerors, hides or lies about…Open Veins has its roots in reality but also in other books…which have helped us recognize what we are so as to know what we can be, and see where we come from so as to reckon more clearly where we’re going.  The reality and those books show that underdevelopment in Latin America is a consequence of development elsewhere, that we Latin Americans are poor because the ground we tread is rich, and that places privileged by nature have been cursed by history.”  (Emphasis added by me.)

I can’t sum up the book better than that, of course.  It’s  an unapologetic history of the “pillage of a continent”, from the discovery of the new world by Columbus all the way up to the manipulative IMF banking practices and extensive US interference of the 1970s.  Galeano doesn’t hide his leftist leanings but the book is chock full of example after example that make him impossible to disagree with.  Imperialism, in all the ways it’s manifested itself throughout history, ruined Latin America and its effects will continue to be felt for centuries.

Has anyone else read this?  What do you think of that quote?

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