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Inside The Only Black-Owned Tourism Company In Cartagena

By Parker Diakite

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Alex Rocha launched The Real Cartagena Travel Agency after he realized people didn’t know much about the black culture in the country.

“Cartagena is a country of more than 1 million people and 45 percent is black,” he said. “We have a lot of African influence in terms of food and music.”

In an interview with Travel Noire, Rocha explained the importance of his company to black tourists and the local black community:

Travel Noire: What Inspired You To Launch The Real Cartagena?

ROCHA: I’ve been a tour guide for almost 16 years. I used to work for another tour company and I would always have people on my tours asking questions about the El Janati tours and Black culture in general.

I was restricted because I had a script and doing what someone else told me. Then I started telling people on my own about the real Cartagena and people started loving it because I was doing extraordinary activities.

I started the real Cartagena out of the need of showing people more beyond the tourist area.

Travel Noire: What surprises you the most when visitors take your tour?

ROCHA: Just how there are so many people who don’t know that there are so many Afro Colombians – especially in Cartagena. We’re just one island away from Jamaica and the Pacific coast of Colombia has a big population as well.

Photo courtesy of The Real Cartagena

Travel Noire: If people book an experience with you, what can they expect?

ROCHA: I take them beyond the tourist areas of Cartagena. We go through Black towns. We make sure that we support, highlight and embrace our culture. Anything Black [owned] out there we support it. That’s our focus.

Travel Noire: Why is having your organization. or your tour, so important for the black community in Colombia?

This is something that we can all relate to. When we talk about our history, it’s something that we all can relate to no matter if it’s in Cartagena or in the United States.

Despite the discrimination, we are proud of our roots and we want to highlight it.

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Parker Diakite

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