Departures Magazine, the premium publication of American Express that goes to holders of platinum cards, has a travel piece in its November/December 2012 thick Christmas issue written Vanity Fair Special Correspondent by Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66) entitled, “Colombia: A Brave New World.” In her piece Maureen is able to make a pitch for her Marina Orth Foundation that works with three schools and 1,200 children in Colombia, teaching English and technology, and give a plug to the new NPCA Next Step Travel program which organizes two-week trips combining travel, service and education to places like Dominican Republic and Guatemala.  She also tells rich card holders what to see and where to go in this “now-thriving South American country” that has “emerged as a full-fledged tourist destination ready for its moment.”maureen-orth-photo

Maureen sums up her connection to Colombia this way, “My journey to the country began more than four decades ago as a Peace Corps volunteer in Medellin, the  ‘city of eternal sprint.’ before it was awash in cocaine. It was then that I rode on horseback across rivers, spotting parrots and monkeys in the trees; that I learned to dance the cumbia and the paso doble; that I was introduced to all classes of the country’s vibrant people, as regional in their dialect and cuisine as, say, Italy. Such a strong experience early in life obviously leaves an indelible mark. Colombia captured my heart than and has long kept me in its grip, even when I despaired of its drug wars, its social inequality and its bloodthirstiness.”