Culture

Colombia Is Calling Your Name But How Much Do You Actually Know About This Incredible South American Country?

Colombia has been a rising travel destination for several years now as more and more people realize it has so much to offer. From bustling cities full of life to snow-capped mountains and unrivaled jungle rainforests, Colombia is truly a destination worth exploring.

And before the Coronavirus pandemic halted the breaks on the travel industry, Colombia was quickly becoming a major appeal for travelers from all over the world. Just 10 years ago, Colombia received around 900,000 foreign visitors – last year that number stood at nearly 3 million!

Now, as many of us dream about our next vacation (which is likely months if not more than a year away…), we want to revisit some of our favorite travel hotspots and test your knowledge on South America’s top destinations.

The country has a bad rap – but safety has improved so much.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Unfortunately, it appears that not everyone knows that Colombia is well and truly back on the map, and that for the most part it is a safe destination for visitors to South America.

The drug cartels, still very much present, tend to keep their violence off the streets and a truce between FARC and the government has largely been held in place. Still, you may hear stories and sure there are parts of the country you probably shouldn’t visit, but Colombia has overwhelmingly improved its security. Anthony Bourdain summed it up pretty perfectly:

“If you want to find bad people in Colombia, you can surely find them, as you could in New York or Los Angeles. But nowhere have my crew and I been treated better or with more kindness and generosity. I’d bring my family on vacation there in a heartbeat. And hope to soon. As I said before: Colombians are proud. Let them show you what they are proud of.”

Colombians sure love their fiestas – the country is home to four of the world’s largest parties.

Credit: Bret Silverwood / Flickr

From the biggest salsa festival, theatre festival, outdoor horse parade to a flower parade, Colombia knows how to throw massive parties. Many of these events are scheduled well in advance so you can start looking for dates in 2021 and plan your trip accordingly!

Colombia is a major music-producing country – Maluma baby!

Credit: maluma / Instagram

Colombia has given us some pretty awesome people: hip-shaking Shakira, author Gabriel Garcia Marquez (who penned Love in the Time of Cholera) and actor John Leguizamo (of Moulin Rouge and Romeo & Juliet fame – Google him, you’ll know) all call the country home.

Not to mention Juanes, Maluma, J Balvin, Karol G and so many others.

Colombia is the only country in South America that has coastlines on the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Credit: Bret Silverwood / Flickr

Ok, so the Pacific side isn’t all that much of a tourist destination yet – it lacks the sandy beaches known to the Caribbean side. But still, you get the best of both worlds with two different coastlines to choose from.

There are about 80 different regional languages spoken across Colombia.

Credit: Bret Silverwood / Flickr

Spanish, like most of South America, is the official language of Colombia and you’ll get by in most of the country with it. But keep in mind if in smaller villages that it’s more than likely you’ll encounter Indigenous languages – many of which are in danger of extinction.

Aguardiente is the national drink.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

You’ll either love it or hate it but either way you’ll end up drinking tons of it. It’s cheap and mixes pretty well.

Capital Bogota has one of the biggest cycle path networks in the world.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Bogota’s bike network is the largest network in the America’s and it actually carries more than 600,000 riders each and every day. That’s some serious ridership and is kind of surprising considering the city sits at an altitude of nearly 3,000 meters (or more than 8,000 feet).

Colombia is one of the most mega-diverse countries in the world.

Credit: National Geographic

Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world, after only Brazil which is 10 times its size, and one of only 17 “megadiverse” countries. It has the highest amount of species by area in the world, including more species of bird than all of Europe and North America combined.

Plastic surgery really is a thing.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Having grown up in a society where butt implants were a thing the Kadarshians constantly denied, it was fascinating to see so many people openly displaying their ‘physical enhancements.’

According to some locals, the plastic surgery crazy may be thanks to the drug cartels – who allegedly like women to look a certain way. But one thing’s clear – plastic surgery is big business in Colombia with some tour companies actually changing their business model to do ‘surgery tourism’ from the U.S.!

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Nicole Chapaval Advocates For More Latinas In Tech Through Teaching App Platzi

Fierce

Nicole Chapaval Advocates For More Latinas In Tech Through Teaching App Platzi

Courtesy of Apple

The gender disparity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) jobs remains wide in Colombia. As of 2019, Colombian women hold 32.9 percent of all STEM jobs in the country.

Nicole Chapaval, the VP of education at Platzi, wants to get more women into STEM. As someone who found herself in tech, Chapaval understands what it takes for women to break into the industry.

Chapaval’s own passion for computer science started in her youth. Despite wanting her parents’ reservations about her career choice, she went to school to study software engineering.

“I learned how to code with Platzi. I was a student back in 2012 before I worked here,” she told mitú.

Platzi is a professional learning app targeting people ages 22 and older.

Photo courtesy of Apple

Instructors for the app are teaching livestream courses on programming, marketing, design, and business. The classes are available in English and Spanish.

Chapaval took an interest in content optimization practicing her coding on a personal blog while taking online courses. Starting out as a student advocate, the two founders of Platzi noticed her dedication and started to involve her more in the team.

As Platzi expanded, so did Chapaval’s job description.

Chapaval has been successful in her career. Yet, despite the success, she has seen the gender disparity firsthand. It has only further inspired Chavapal to work to get more women in their tech careers.

“One of my first jobs was in a company that was doing mobile applications and in this company there were 15 male developers and myself,” she says.

Wanting to engage with her male colleagues, Chapaval admitted to feeling weird when her enthusiasm was not reciprocated.

“I was always very extroverted and wanted to meet everyone [but] they didn’t want to talk with me,” she says.

Chapaval teaches 60 percent of computer sciences courses hoping to attract more women to the field.

Photo courtesy of Apple

“I think that representation is very important. So I try to be very vocal and very present with everything that we do in social media and in content creation,” she says.

Whether it be attending company livestreams or podcasts, it is imperative for Chapaval to have women witness others in the field to show the possibilities they can achieve.

Prideful, she also amplifies the achievements of other Latinas in STEM, like that of Diana Trujillo. Yet, she still expresses a need for more women to get managerial roles.

“I am very proud of Trujillo,” she says. “She’s from my hometown and she was in the NASA project that launched the Perseverance Rover. These kinds of things are great!”

Thirty-six percent of Platzi‘s more than 1 million students are women and it is growing.

Photo courtesy of Apple

“That’s very low,” she says, “but we doubled that percentage from 2018 so we still have a long way to go.”

A key step needed to attract more students is accessibility, both financially and in content. Platzi, Chapaval mentions, offers free programming courses that aim to be accessible to those with low internet connection in all parts of Colombia and Latin America.

It’s not just about what you are learning as an individual, but also as a team or a group,” she says. “That also adds to the working ecosystem of Latin America.”

Regardless of gender, age, or background, Chapaval believes “education is very important if we want to break these blockers.”

In fact, two crucial skills she believes everyone should know is programming and English. “I like to say that both skills have to do with communications; communication with machines and with other people in the world,” she says.

In a time when remote jobs are pertinent due to the pandemic, having communication skills is a valuable asset for STEM careers in any country.

“Programming should be a basic skill that schools teach as well because it’s not only [beneficial] to be a developer,” Chapaval says. “It helps you understand how to solve problems in a logical way.”

Chapaval is grateful for her personal growth in STEM and hopes that Platzi can help others grow.

Photo courtesy of Apple

“I hope [students] can create what they dream of with the coding skills that they can get with us and can show it to the world,” she says.

“Latin America is a lovely region and a lot is happening here,” she says. “I hope that if this community can get to know each other and create the next big companies and big solutions for problems that we have right now, I would [be] fulfilled.”

As the gender disparity in STEM slowly expands, Chapaval continues to vouch for women to speak up and push through in the field.

Proudly Chapaval says, “Latinas are very extroverted, and the tech and software engineering world needs more extroverted people [like us] to add to their ecosystem.”

The App Store featured Platzi for Women’s History Month.

Read: She Came As A Teen From Colombia With Only $300 To Her Name, Now She’s a Director For NASA

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Americans Are So Fed Up With The Pandemic They’re Willing To Give Up Sex To Travel

Things That Matter

Americans Are So Fed Up With The Pandemic They’re Willing To Give Up Sex To Travel

Alberto Valdez / Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

What do you miss most about pre-COVID life? Is it eating out at restaurants? Going to the club to perrear? Or is it traveling? For many Americans, it seems like the number one answer would be traveling. In fact, a huge number of Americans miss traveling so much that they would be willing to give up sex just to be able to go on a trip right now. 

So just how many people are willing to give up sex for a trip right now?

According to an informal survey conducted by travel site Trivago, a whopping 38% of Americans say they’d give up sex for an entire year to go on a trip right now. And that’s a poll of 2,000 people! 

“After a year that changed everything, it’s clear that modern travel has been profoundly altered, perhaps forever. As the vaccine rollout continues and restrictions begin to lift in parts of the globe, eager travelers everywhere wait patiently for the clear signal to be able to get away and adventure once again,” Trivago shared in a statement alongside its survey results. “The results reveal significant desires to travel, including what consumers would give up, what they’d like to do and where they’d like to go, as well as why they’d like to get back on the road.”

But it wasn’t just sex…Americans are willing to give up a lot that they care about for a trip.

Beyond finding out that more than one-third of Americans would give up sex for a year, Trivago also found that one in five people would give up their partner to travel now, and one in four said they’d give up all their savings. Additionally, nearly 50% of respondents in the U.S. said they’d happily give up their job to hit the road again.

Why are people so willing to give it all up for a few vacations?

“More than 80% of those surveyed somewhat or strongly agree that travel is a part of a well-rounded life,” Trivago added. “The concept of travel as a form of self-care/wellness and to expand one’s perspective is one that continues to grow.”

It noted, in both the U.S. and the UK, a substantial majority of respondents said that being prevented from traveling freely is one of the worst aspects of the pandemic and that because of the pandemic this is the most they’ve ever felt like traveling.

But hopefully we won’t have to wait too much longer. Although international travel is still largely discouraged by governments around the world, some level of travel is starting to return to normal. But until we have the COVID-19 pandemic under control, it’s important we do our part to keep everyone safe. Things like staycations, domestic trips, and even taking a virtual vacation. While it may not be entirely the same thing, at least you won’t have to give up all the good parts of life to get it.

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