Stylist Alexander-Julian (@alexanderjulian) tells Travel Noire about his journey to connect with the African diaspora in Cartagena, Colombia.
Travel Noire: Why did you decide to visit Cartagena?
Alexander-Julian: Originally the trip was just about escaping an over-extended New York winter for the little bit that I could, but I ended up ultimately choosing Cartagena because of the rich culture, warm weather, and for the chance to explore a new corner of the diaspora.
Travel Noire: How much was your plane ticket?
Alexander-Julian: $450, but we missed out on a $250 flight deal so there’s that.
Travel Noire: Where did you stay and did you like staying there?
Alexander-Julian: We stayed at Casa Cuba. One of my favorites things about Cartagena is that they have this amazing collection of gorgeous colonial homes that you can stay in during your trip. You get to escape the commercial hotel scene and take in some of Colombia’s beautiful open designed architecture in the grandest of ways. They have full homes for rent or you can rent by the room, and all at different price points, so there’s a home for everyone. Also, the wonderful ladies at Casa Cuba wake you up every morning with homemade empanadas, fresh fruit, and fresh-squeezed fruit juice, so that’s definitely beating out Best Western’s “continental breakfast.”
Travel Noire: Where were your favorite places to eat?
Alexander-Julian: El Arsenal – great food, and even better drinks!
Bonché – Top 5 Burgers I’ve ever had, worldwide.
Carmen – Fancier restaurant for a flex-y dinner.
Travel Noire: What was the most memorable thing you did?
Alexander-Julian: Nothing is more memorable than renting a boat cruiser with 14 of my closest friends and raging through Rosario Islands listening to Narcos by Migos while drinking tons and tons of Colombian Rum. But in the spirit of duality, I’d love to provide an equally fun and more educational/cultured memory. We had an amazing dinner with these two chefs that operate under the name Proyecto Caribe, where they prepared a 9-course dinner in the comfort in our kitchen and taught us about the history/origin of every ingredient hungrily scarfed down.
Travel Noire: What surprised you the most about this destination?
Alexander-Julian: We stayed in Getsemani, which is the neighborhood that African slaves lived in when they landed in Colombia. It was amazing to see remnants of the diaspora still alive from the food and music like champeta which is like Caribbean music with a Spanish twist to the people and clothing.
Travel Noire: Would you go back?
Alexander-Julian: In a heartbeat. I would love to go back and explore more of the outskirts of the olde city. Getsemani was an amazing neighborhood, I know there’s so much more to the city and even beyond. I know Medellin is beautiful, too.
If be unfair to talk about Cartagena and not mention This is Cartagena. This is Cartagena is this amazing site that has all the insights to Cartagena, and helped me put together an insane itinerary–– Including booking my colonial home, neighborhood tours, and copping the boat cruiser for debauchery.