Bogotá’s historic La Candelaria district is full of guidebook staples: the Museo Botero, the Museo del Oro, the Plaza de Bolívar. The tour of Colombia’s capital that I’m on today, though, doesn’t focus on any of those well-worn sights. Instead, I begin at a building on Carrera 7 that’s swathed in memorial plaques to Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, the former leader of the Colombian Liberal Party, whose 1948 assassination laid the groundwork for La Violencía—a period of struggle between the right and left that led to the rise of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
After more than 50 years of war, the government and the FARC signed a peace accord in 2016, and this tour, called Weaving Peace and offered by Colombian outfitter Impulse Travel, gives deep insight into the conflict and the country’s ongoing efforts to move beyond it. Take, for example, our next stop, the nearby counter-monument Fragmentos. To mark the end of the war, contemporary artist Doris Salcedo melted down 37 tons of weapons turned in by FARC rebels and worked with women who were sexually assaulted during the war to shape that metal into roughly 1,300 tiles, which now form the floor of an exhibition space set in the ruins of a colonial house.
The Weaving Peace itinerary doesn’t only look back on the tragedies of the past; it also highlights businesses and community projects that involve former fighters and victims of the war. Among these is La Trocha Cerveza, a brewery founded by 10 ex-FARC guerrillas and named after the routes that connect residents in rural parts of the country, where the fighting was fiercest. Appropriately, La Trocha’s headquarters are at La Casa de la Paz, a cultural reconciliation space founded to serve former combatants and victims. “We hope that the peace agreement succeeds, since it benefits the great majority who have been affected by the armed conflict,” says Doris Suárez Guzmán, a cofounder of La Trocha who spent nearly 30 years in the FARC.
We finish the tour with lunch at Salvo Patria, a high-end restaurant that supports farmers in regions that were affected by the conflict, highlighting their produce in monthly rotating menus.
“The peace agreement may not be perfect, and people are still trying to walk away from the past,” says my guide, Doriel. “In Colombia, we simply ask for no repetition.”