Experience Colombia

Life in the saddle

It all started with 34 kilometers in Bogota in 1976: 34 humble kilometers of ground closed to traffic that the city gave to the people as an area in which they could walk, jog and cycle on Sundays and during vacations... But most of all to encourage them to get out into the open air, alone or in the company of family and friends, to experience the sun and the sense of pleasure generated when they moved their bodies and went for a walk, after long days trapped in their houses and within the four walls of their offices.

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Rodolfo Llinás, the genius who explores the human brain

The most important scientist in Colombia was a terrible student. The college bored him and only a few subjects actually were interesting to him: he could not really understand why he should learn all the tributaries to the Caquetá River.

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Panela, energy for life

It is difficult to reach Colombian cyclists. Not only because they are fast, strong and light, but because they are relentless. They are moved by an iron will that gives them the strength to pedal another bit; they have something inside, pushing them to go faster and farther and farther.

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Cali, where the salsa has whirled in like a hurricane

"No salsa arrives all at once, stops tears in their tracks, wins over fears, and brings to the surface unfathomable sadness". This is the statement made by one of Andres Caicedo’s characters in his novel Viva la musica!, a boundless ode to salsa published at the end of the 1970s and which this year comes to the cinema. Caicedo, caleño right to the core, was well aware of the power of this music which pushed its way into the city streets and infected everyone with its ambivalent strength, which can make listeners fly skywards or sink to the floor, to the rhythm of the piano, maracas and bongo drums.

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Cali, the capital of the Colombian Pacific

Before Gabriel García Márquez enchanted the world with One Hundred Years of Solitude, another Colombian novel had shook the publishing world and captured the attention of the fussiest readers. It was called Maria, written by Jorge Isaacs a century before the arrival of the powerful novel by Gabo, and has received the praise of intellectuals like Ruben Dario, Unamuno and Borges. During the 1970s, it was the most widely read Latin American novel.

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Juan Valdez, the symbol of Colombian coffee growers

In Colombia he is almost as popular as Santa Claus. But in place of the white beard, red suit, soft hat and bag of gifts, Juan Valdez has a moustache, a poncho, a wide-brimmed hat and a typical Colombian leather bag. Instead of reindeer, he has Conchita, the donkey who helps him carry coffee from Colombia to New York or Kuala Lumpur. And when they walk around Times Square, Juan and Conchita are like movie stars at the centre of attention; everyone wants to take their photo with them or have a sip of that delicious coffee.

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