Cartagena catches me by surprise and I don’t even know why.
Our hotel is right next to the beach and within 24 hours I get the beach glow. You know, the one where your body just instantly relaxes because it knows you are in paradise.
The first day we spend exploring the old town. It is old and beautiful and colorful. Few people understand English and we get a couple of mix-ups with the taxis.
We meet Carlos in old town. He is from Venezuela and beautiful. He tells us he has come here to find a job so he can survive. He buskers at the restaurant we eat lunch at. He is too young to have to leave home indefinitely and all my motherly instincts come flooding in.
Lunch is rice, ribs, salad and plantains. The drinks are especially delicious and I am soon full. After lunch we walk on the wall of the old Fort. We see school children everywhere and I wonder if they are playing hooky.
There is every color here. Black, brown, white yet we stand out. The locals can tell we are tourists and the ones with things to sell make a beeline for us the moment we come in their line of sight.
In the evening we head to Getsemani which is like the artsy part of town. There is street art everywhere and dark corners. Backpackers are a dime a dozen here. Most look like they have been here a while and have lost track of time. They might never leave.
Dinner is yummy and looks a lot like lunch. We soon discover that Colombian cuisine is like most of Latin America’s – not much variety.
The next day we head back to Getsemani for a tour of the street art. We find out that most of the slaves lived here back then. That is when I understand the art we see. It is rebellious, it is wild and it longs for that which is lost.
I didn’t expect Cartagena to love me back but it did. I was called beautiful every other hour. There are no shy men in Colombia except the tourists. Even Cuban and Costa Rican men weren’t this bold. Colombia men smiled while drinking you in with their eyes. My waiter on the second evening told me he “desired” (thanks Google Translate) to have me as his girlfriend, the audacity of the man. Yet brethren, I have never been propositioned by a hotter man. He was so handsome I almost considered. I was told “Te Amo” by more than 10 men in two days.
Caratgena was perfect. There is nothing I would add or take away from this experience.
Trevor Noah says to travel to new places, especially to countries where you can’t speak the language. It will help you realise how small and insignificant you are in the scheme of things.
This is Cartagena.