Marlee, from the Swimco buying team, visited Colombia – home of one of our favourite artistic brands Maaji!
You were invited to Colombia by Maaji?
Actually, the Chamber of Commerce in Colombia invited North American buyers to attend shows there. Colombia has a huge swim market, so I saw some new lines. The Maaji team hosted me for the trip and showed me their wonderful culture. I’ve never met people who were as incredibly friendly and hospitable as in Colombia.
Amazing! So which cities did you see?
We visited Cartagena, Baru, Barranquilla, and Bogota. It was a whirlwind trip with a lot to see in 5 days.
Can you tell us a bit about each city?
Cartagena is a common tourist area. It’s a 15th century fortress town on the ocean that has wonderful restaurants, amazing shops, street vendors, and colourful old buildings. I would suggest staying in one of the boutique hotels within the walled city. Also, being a coastal town, the fish and seafood there was incredible.
On Baru Island I stayed in a privately owned beach house in a local reserve area with a wonderful group of people from Maaji! The house was open air (everything is outdoors except the bedrooms and bathrooms) with thatch roofs and amazing decor. It’s great because the weather is warm all year round with a gentle breeze. It was 32 degrees and humid when I went so a breeze was very welcome.
Sounds like a great work trip!
It was! The trip was such a great escape for the first few days, thanks to the Maaji team, but it was down to business for the second half of the trip, starting in Barranquilla. I was there to attend a swimwear tradeshow (Plataforma-K) and go to the Maaji fashion show.
In the capital city of Bogota, I went to another trade show. Time really flew by! For dinner and drinks on our last night before flying home, we went to a very famous spot in Bogota called Andres D.C. It was said to be the best place in town by everyone we spoke to.
So would you go back for a true vacation?
Yes absolutely! The fortress town of Cartagena is a must-see. And if you go, you must buy their single origin coffee. The good coffee in Colombia is the best I’ve ever had. I stocked up!!!
What about beach-time?
The white sand beaches were incredible! One day, we took a boat to Baru Island to swim in the ocean and hang out on the beach. The house there was stunning, and was the ultimate in relaxation. Best moment of the trip for sure! I would have loved more time to soak in the hot weather.
Typical Swimco Insider – we love the sun and sea!
Oh yes, and great swimwear of course! Maaji hooked me up with some beautiful, bright suits that were perfect for Colombia. I was also constantly in light dresses or cover ups paired with my Sanuk and Havaianas sandals.
Did you pick up some tips for your next visit, or suggestions for us?
Eat! Any time I travel, eating the local cuisine is a major priority of mine. We tried fish, local dishes (which included a lot of fresh cheese, so no complaints there!) and artisanal sweets, made with coconut, milk and caramel. It was a very different way of eating from what I’m used to, so it was exciting.
A tip might be practicing a bit of Spanish beforehand. It would’ve been handy! Also, the shopping was quite inexpensive, so I suggest buying some locally made jewelry, bags, and clothing while you are there!
So back to Baru Island next time…?
I’d love that! But I also heard amazing things about Medellin. It’s supposed to have such a different feel from where I was. I visited coastal towns with desert-like climates and bigger cities, but Medellin has amazing mountains with lush greenery and a vibrant culture. It looks beautiful! I would also like to visit another city called Cali.
It was a true pleasure visiting this wonderful country and a special thank you to the Maaji Team and ProColombia for your warm welcome!!