As part of the series Explorando Lima, in which I demonstrate the immense diversity that Peru has to offer without even leaving the region of Lima, I visit Antioquia, a town that brightened its future with a lick of paint.
Antioquia was a different place altogether. Poor, grey and unknown. It didn’t have a tourism industry and any outsiders visiting were confronted with a ghost town, as inhabitants shut up shop and hid in their homes until the stranger went away. It was like this until development group CIED began the Colours for Antioquia project, changing everything forever.
Colours for Antioquia began in 2002, fronted by Coordinator Eliana Chávez. She explains that its aim was simple, instigate the biggest change in the quality of life for the most minimal of costs.
“Graduates of the school of Bellas Artes were in charge of painting the facades of the towns buildings with motifs native to the zone. We received more than fifty propositions of how we could paint Antioquia and of these five were chosen, the five best, and we brought before the town where we put them to a vote”, she said.
The winner was an artist and teacher from Lima called Enrique Bustamente (This surprised Annett, as she was once taught by him). Alex Narciso, the towns new Promoter of Tourism said the designs and colours best fitted the regions native styles.
“They are colours that are quite exciting, happy colours, and are also indicative of the zone of Antioquia. We have many flowers, pigeons… the church is most representative of the local motifs, this facade is typical of Antioquia.“
The change to the town hasn’t just been superficial and the people have taken the project and the initiative on as their own and are pushing forward in development of other social and economic areas. The region has now commercialised the production of vinegar from apples and also membrillo marmalade.
In 2004, just two years after the project was completed, Antioquia receives as many as 200 tourists a month, a figure which has since increased.
“The project has had a very big impact on the region and completely changed the peoples’ quality of life. Not only here – the project is being replicated in other parts of the country“, Eliana stated.