My assignment in Columbia was to make a marketing plan for the city of Popayan. A beautiful city where by law every building has to be white. It’s one of the very few cities in the world that re-enact the parade of the crucifixion.  It was a real crucifixion and apparently, there is quite a fight to be that person nailed to the cross.
I flew into Bogota and the weather wasn’t good so I waited a few days there and visited the gold museum and many other historic buildings.
Finally, the weather cleared enough and I had the most amazing small plane ride between the mountains.  at some points, it seems that the wings of the plane were just about touching the sides of the mountains.
Upon my arrival in Popayan, I was met not only with the mayor and other dignitaries but also the owners of the seven small hotels that I was to be working with it was quite a welcome committee.
My plan was to work with each hotel for a week and do the usual things that I do. Plus create a marketing plan for the city itself.
The hotels were small and were mostly converted Convents. They had lovely courtyards and long covered walkways.  One could almost see the nuns in their long habits rushing to morning prayers.

One such hotel advertised itself as a honeymoon destination with the cover photograph of a large bedroom with one single bed on each wall!

re-designing the bedrooms and changing the brochure picture was a high priority!
The beds had great boxsprings and mattresses topped with lumpy flock pads. I said these pads must go and the two sisters running the hotel really got into the act and grabbed these pads and threw them out the windows chanting “Barbara said they must go“. “ Barbara said they must go” where they all landed outside on the parking lot. Fortunately, no one was outside at the time.

I also spent time with a trade school where the students learned to cut diamonds and of course the Columbian emeralds, to make dolls and other tourist type ornaments and many other crafts.

Some  of the local people worked in the Emerald mines and of course they are absolutely not allowed to take anything out.  I'm sure they were serched thoroughly.  However one day at the trade school a large rock was proudly produced  and I was told they were going to cut this open and that they would in fact be emeralds inside.  I requested that they wait until I got a film crew there and we did in fact take pictures of the rock being cut.  The emerald inside was amazing it was however flawed and they cut it into smaller stones.  I bought three and had two set in gold rings for my eldest son and his partner.  I still have one stone unused to this day.

Typical hotels in Popayan





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Visiting the Hill Tribes

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