U.S. government officials in Colombia regularly travel to the major cities of Colombia without incident. However, U.S. government officials and their families in Colombia normally are only permitted to travel to major cities by air. They may not use inter- or intra-city bus transportation, or travel by road outside urban areas at night. U.S. government officials and their families in Colombia must file a request to travel to any area in Colombia outside of two general areas. The first area is outlined by the cities of Bogota, Anolaima, Cogua, and Sesquile. The second area is on the Highway 90 corridor that connects Cartagena, Barranquilla, and Santa Marta. All U.S. citizens in Colombia are urged to follow these precautions and exercise extra caution outside of the aforementioned areas.
Thus, our travel has been limited based on these precautions. Coupled with the need to secure host teachers who are TEA Alumni (teachers who spent 6 weeks in the United States learning about American schools and culture through the US Department of State program), and you now know why we were in Bogotá and Cartagena. Our group of 9 teachers spent the first 6 days in Bogotá learning about the country, the education system, visiting schools, and engaging in cultural experiences.
On July 21, 4 of us teachers traveled to Cartagena for our host school stay of 8 days while 5 women in our group remained in Bogotá for their host experience. On July 29, we all met up in Cartagena for collaboration, a dynamic and extraordinary meeting with 19 TEA alumni from around Colombia, our debrief, and some time in the city.
Both Bogotá and Cartagena are enchanting cities. We have had the privilege of taking in the beauty of each city and, through our visits to schools and communities, we had the privilege of seeing how disparity between the rich and the poor looks by way of transportation, sanitation, employment, housing, and education.
While I do not want to sanitize the picture I've had of Cartagena and Bogotá, I would like to share charms of each city, through my eyes.