About Me

Valledupar, Cesar, Colombia
This blog will document some of my experiences of living and working in Valledupar, Colombia. I'm here working as a Junior Professional Consultant (JPC) for the UNDP through the United Nations Association of Canada's UN Professional Placement Programme. The posts for this blog will share my experiences of work, travel and culture in the Cesar region of Colombia's Caribbean coast and the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Back in Colombia!

Reconnecting with Colombia’s Caribbean Coast and the Sierra Nevada

As I find myself back in Colombia, two and a half years since my initial visit to South America, I’m filled with an exciting and new sense of purpose and perspective.  When I first docked in Cartagena two and a half years ago I was six months into an eight month journey throughout Latin America.  I had recently graduated from university and was ready to embark on a new adventure, fulfilling dreams of learning spanish and traveling throughout Mexico, Central, and South America.  It was an incredible experience, and I knew I wanted to come back to this part of the world someday soon.  Little did I know that such a dream would come true only a few years later.  I have now been living in Valledupar, Colombia for close to two months.  This time round I am here on a six month position as a Junior Professional Consultant with the United Nations Development Program. This position, made possible through United Nations Association of Canada's Professional Placement Programme, has provided me with the opportunity to contribute to a gender equity and peace building project for the Cesar region.  As a young professional in the field of gender and development this is a dream job and incredible opportunity to deepen my experiences and contributions within the field. I’ll be using this blog as a medium to share my experience of work, as well as those of culture and travel, with my readers.  Enjoy!

With nearly two months since settling into Colombian life there is a lot I can share.  From incredible trips along Colombia’s Caribbean coast and high up in the Sierra Nevada, to a busy work schedule of conferences, workshops, and forums, my time here has been nothing short of enriching and eventful.  And now finally sealing the deal on a great apartment, and the arrival of my partner Simon, I’m settling into life here in the Sierra Nevada and am looking forward to the coming months of work and travel.     

My first weekend in Valledupar I was invited to join a colleague of mine for a concert at la Plaza Alfonzo Lopez, the main square in Valledupar. For those of you unfamiliar with Colombia’s diverse music culture, I am living in the heart of the ever popular Vallenato folk music. It’s an eclectic mix of Spanish and West African-inherited music traditions, resulting in an incredibly popular, very upbeat folk music of Colombia’s Caribbean region. Here in Valledupar it plays non-stop day and night, blasting from people’s homes, the restaurants and bars, the main square, and even out on the streets from car stereos and boom boxes.  There’s no question about it, people of Valledupar love their Vallenato music! 
Living in Valledupar has a number of perks of you're one interested in travel and culture.  It’s located at the very base of the world famous Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range, which is home to a number of indigenous groups as well as Tairona National Park. Valledupar is also just over three hours from the Caribbean coast and about a five hour drive to the Venezuelan border.  Being one that loves both the mountains and sea I feel really fortunate to be living in such a beautiful location. I've been taking advantage of my weekends to explore more of this region and the diversity it holds.  

Within my first few weeks of work with UNDP I've had the opportunity to attend and participate in a number of conferences, both in Valledupar as well as in rural communities outside of the city.  These conferences and workshops focused primarily of themes of gender equity and peace building, Indigenous and Afro-Colombian women, rural communities, violence against women, internal displacement, and women’s political participation.  The following post will be focusing on these conferences as well as introduce some of the gender projects I will be working on until December.


  1. Hey Kathy I enjoyed reading your blog and I'm happy to see all your dreams come true. Keep it up!
    Love you xoxo

  2. Awesome Kath! .. very interesting information .. i look forward to more such posts here .. good luck!

  3. Wow Kath!!!
    This sounds all so fantastic!! I'm so thrilled for you, and hope that the arrival of Simon made everything so much easier for you as well! I hope you feel your are getting all the support you need for your project and in your life outside of work as well.
    Sending BIG love to you, and would so love to hear more!!!!!!!
    Love tess