Thanks to popular Netflix series that shall remain nameless, Colombia often conjures up images of drug cartel violence and kidnappings or extravagant lifestyles of those same cartels leaders. It was also ravaged by civil war for more than 30 years leaving tourism basically non-existent.
However, within just the last five years, Colombia has seen an increase in foreign travels of more than 45% and it now rates as one of the most visited countries in South America. The country is rapidly establishing itself as a major tourist destination, with Caribbean coastline, rainforest, endangered animals, unique ecosystems and the Andes mountain range. It has something for everyone, and unique experiences as well as unique landscapes. Here are 13 good reasons to visit Colombia.
It’s home to incredible biodiversity
Colombia is considered one of the world’s ‘megadiverse’ countries. The Andes mountain range runs through the country, creating three connecting mountain ranges, with Bogotá situated on a flat savannah within them. The Amazon rainforest covers 35% of Colombia, and this unique rainforest environment is home to many indigenous communities, endangered animals and unique fauna.
And Colombia’s unique landscapes don’t stop at the rainforest. The connecting of two ecosystems occurs in many areas of Colombia, but the most unique is where the Amazon meets the Andes mountains range, creating a unique landscape at the Serranía de la Macarena National Park. Colombia also has two desert areas, La Guajira and Tatacoa. Colombia’s coastlines, one Caribbean and the other Pacific, create unique beaches, backed by snowcapped mountains and deep forest. Colombia is also home to a large páramo ecosystem that helps create rain.
Colombian National Natural Park’s feature a large number of hiking routes, which vary in both difficulty and distance. Hiking gives visitors the opportunity to experience the country’s unique landscapes and ecosystems, and to see wildlife up close. Hiking trails and guided tours are available throughout the country, with the most popular being in the Valle de Cocora and the hike or trek to the Lost City, an ancient indigenous abandoned village created in 800 AD, or 600 years before Machu Picchu.
One of the biggest changes that the so called digital revolution has brought to our lives is the capacity that today’s computer systems have to process huge amounts of data. Processors today are able to run algorithms that bring together millions of data entries to find trends, cluster groups of similar objects and generate visualizations that can help us understand even the most complex aspects of science and culture. This is known popularly as “big data” and has changed the ways in which governments and companies understand reality and make decisions. For example, before high speed processing mathematicians took literally years to make sense of census data and find correlations between factors such as socioeconomic status, ethnicity, age and literacy levels.
Guess what? This can be done today with a few clicks as computers bring together millions upon millions of data entries and make sense of it all. It all sounds very geeky, but big data is defining how we live our lives, from how traffic lights coordinate to how much tax you gotta pay each year.
So all this geeky, nerdy stuff should be put to good use, o no?
Enter Mexican geographer Baruch Sangines, a true wizard when it comes to generating great data visualizations.
This young scientist is the Chief Data Scientist at a company called Jetty, and he does some pretty groundbreaking research on pressing social issues such as housing and poverty.
His LinkedIn profile is pretty impressive: “Experience in public and private sector with skills to analyze and visualize data related to: commuting, transit, housing, tourism, migration, security, and urban environment. Expert in territorial analysis and passionate about the cartography and the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to visualize small and big data”. Wow. hold your horses, Einstein! He is a proud graduate of Mexico’s National University and has Master’s Degree on Demographics and Statistics.
So why did he go viral on Mexican social media in the past few days? We mean, science is sexy but not viral sexy (sadly!). All because of this map:
No, it is not a visualization of WiFi points in Mexico. No, it is not a rendition of cartel activity. No, it is not a highlight of the areas in which development runs at a faster pace. It is about something much, much more relevant to everyday life in Mexico lindo y querido. Any guesses?
Nothing is more important than a delicious taco when you most need it!
Just look at that tortilla, a bit crispy, a bit soft… and that perfectly marinated meat…
Well, Baruch created a visualization of taco stands in Mexico and nos ponemos de pie ante tal maravilla!
Baruch called this visualization Taco Universe, and it showcases all the registered taco stands and shops in the country. We can clearly see that there is a high concentration of taco shrines in the capital Mexico City, and that hotspots like Cancun and Cabo are also highlighted, perhaps thanks to gringo tourism craving fish tacos. The scientists used the database Directorio Estadístico Nacional de Unidades Económicas (Denue) (Statistical National Directory of Economic Units) from the federal census agency INEGI. The map highlights how taco culture is primarily based in the center of the country, with local varieties such as Puebla’s tacos arabes (a shawarma like type) increasing the traffic in that area.
But it is important to note that many taco stands are not accounted for (and that is not this scientist’s fault).
Thousands of Mexicans subsist in an informal economy with businesses that are not registered and pay no taxes. Among these businesses, mobile taco stands reign supreme. There are hundreds of taco stands all around the country that are set up informally. Sometimes you can find the most delicious tacos there! You can also find informal vendors selling tacos de canasta, a variety that is literally carried in a basket. This map does not take these informal enterprises into account, even though they are key to Mexico’s taco culinary tradition.
So you are curious about tacos de canasta now, aren’t you?
Well, just look at these crispy, sweaty, fat-rich babes. Tacos de canasta are filled with guisados or stews, or with refried beans. We are almost sure that Baruch did not include them in his map, but we can forgive him for making us crave unos taquitos (we bet you are calling your comadres or compas right now to hit the taco stand) and showing us how Mexico is a country that despite its many challenges still finds time to live up to the old adage: barriga llena, corazon contento.
No matter what’s going on in the world – which let’s face it these days is a lot – so many of us are looking for a fresh start. Whether you’re just out of college and struggling to figure out what your next steps are or you’re one of the millions of Americans left out of work by the Coronavirus pandemic, more people than ever are needing a bit of inspiration to make their next move.
It’s hard out there. There’s no denying that. And with so much pressure from family, your boss, and even from within ourselves, many of you may be asking “Well, what’s next?”
Ok, so maybe a job in coding isn’t the first thing that pops into our heads when we’re contemplating our future. But here’s why maybe it should be.
A career in coding gave one man the job of his dreams and a renewed sense of commitment to his community.
Like so many of us growing up, Alberto Avalos-Cervantes has a passion for learning. Growing up in Los Angeles during the 1990s, Cervantes told mitú that although he didn’t exactly expect to end up with a career in tech, he was always fascinated by the technology taking shape all around him.
“When I was a kid, technology was a common thread in my life. I was breaking down and rebuilding computers, always looking for opportunities to build things. I’d even work with my dad building things outside,” he told mitú.
But like so many other Latinos, he didn’t see himself in the tech world. That representation and support just wasn’t there. And to be honest, coding and the tech world can be an extremely intimidating industry to join.
Even before he knew he wanted to work in tech, he was using technology to help the Latinx community.
“Two of my biggest motivations in life are community and technology and the intersection of those two important passions. So I constantly asked myself ‘How can I help move the Latino community forward using tech?” Cervantes explained to mitú.
While working on political campaigns, Cervantes was involved in bringing tech into the fold to help engage Latino voters. “Tech was always at the forefront of my mind in everything that I did,” he said.
It was around this time that Cervantes really started to consider a path into the world of coding. Between visiting the White House to help advocate for expanding computer science education in communities with less opportunity to launching Code As A Second Language (which has programs in 70 markets across the U.S.), Cervantes was constantly asking himself, “How do I help the next generation get to where they want to be?”
Cervantes joined the Sabio coding program to further his own career, learn something new, and pay it forward to the community.
It’s no secret that Latinos are underrepresented in the tech world. In 2019, Google released its annual diversity report and it showed that nearly 50% of its employees are white, with less than 7% identifying as Hispanic. Microsoft shared similar data from its 2018 diversity report showing 55% white employees and 6% Hispanic employees.
The divide can lead to minority workers and women in tech feeling ignored, and hinder career advancement.
But Cervantes points out that the appetite for learning already exists within the community, the opportunity just isn’t there yet. According to Cervantes, nine out of ten schools still don’t have computer science education. There’s never been a clear path for Latinos into the tech world. He wants leaders to ask tough questions: How do we prepare our youth to learn how to learn? How do we get them into the right mindset?
Representation is also a huge part of it. Cervantes hopes that educators will also consider who is teaching our students. It’s important that kids see themselves in their teachers and mentors so they can imagine themselves taking similar paths.
Cervantes admits that learning to code is tough work and you really need to be committed.
As someone who knows nothing about coding, Cervantes insists there’s nothing to worry about. Sabio offers a program called PreWork, which is kind of like a primer before you go into the actual program. They want to make sure you’re at a basic foundational level, and if you’re able to make it through the PreWork program, then you’ll be in good shape. You can even attend free, online events to learn more about the programs Sabio offers.
He says you’ll “eat, breathe, and sleep code” but that it’s absolutely worth it. He praised the program at Sabio, crediting its founders’ commitment to creating success among program followers. Cervantes said he “felt like the leaders were invested in my success. They teach you not just how to code, but how to learn.”
Cervantes studied Sabio’s Full Stack program which focuses on end to end development, which included everything from database architecture to learning how to use a multitude of APIs. All of which have come in handy in his new job, since he relies so much on what he learned.
After landing his dream job, Cervantes is more focused than ever on helping those who supported him.
After graduating from the Sabio coding program, Cervantes landed what he’s described as his dream job, working on apps for his favorite baseball team. But – as incredible as that is – Cervantes is quick to point out he didn’t do it alone.
“One of the things I’ve learned most about myself on this incredible journey, is that I stand on the shoulders of giants,” he told Mitú. “I owe my success to my community and my family, my partner and having my dream job has really grown my commitment to my community,” he added.
Of course, changing career paths is never easy. And, especially in Latino families, there’s often the pressure to pursue ideal jobs like a lawyer or doctor. But Cervantes – like so many others who have studied coding with Sabio – says he has no regrets for becoming a coder. It’s helped him achieve the life he’s always wanted!
Learning to code with Sabio could be the right path for you too – just make sure you come prepared to learn.
Pretty much everyone knows somebody who’s left their 9-5 office job to study at a coding boot camp. Learning to code and the world it opens up to you can help you level up your skill set, confidence, and so much more.
If you’re considering a career in tech, Cervantes wants you to know that “you really have to commit. It’s a major project. But it’s an investment in yourself and will help you leverage what you already know, teach you how to learn, and will help take you to the next level.”
And with its complete approach to an education in coding, Cervantes isn’t alone in sharing in the program’s success. You can learn more by attending one of Sabio’s events (RSVP HERE) or even start learning to code now, by signing up here, for free!