Sensing Cartagena

photo 5the shores are still speckled with tiny shells, just like thirty years ago, when collecting those looking like “beach butterflies” were the best souvenirs to carry gingerly home. on weekends caravans park on the sand, vallenatos booming from open trunks, small gatherings of joy under brightly colored tarps, while the waves become everyone’s playground.

high pitched ringing bells and short taps on horns announce the arrival of cool palletas or the presence of a taxi ride into el centro. there, palenqueras adorned in flowing skirts and colorful head scarves call you “mi cielo” as you walk away with a cup full of fresh mango. the plazas host all types of activity, from continuous cathedral weddings to trios playing live music for a night’s wage. one can feast on thick arepas con queso grilling at a corner and take a shot of sweet tintico for an afternoon caffeine kick.

looking up is always a good idea in the old city.colonial style balconies cascade with bougainvillea and the tops of church copulas adorn the sky. the colors loudly  separate one building from another: a striking blue next to a golden yellow next to a deep pink; this vibrancy seeps into the energy inside. with personalities of their own, hotels, boutiques, restaurants, bars draw people in: tourists and cruise visitors, locals and expats enjoying their choice of a fruit juice, a rum & coke, an aguila beer, a happy hour mojito.

magic moments take place, when the ocean breeze cools the tropical heat. lovers slowly stroll on the historical city wall, some tucked in dark corners sharing stolen kisses. lights glow romantically from windows and the sound of horse drawn carriages evokes tranquility.

above, the moon hangs nearly as long as the last rumbero walking home along the beach, shoes trickling sand in one hand, humming the last song played.

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3 comments
  1. Anonymous said:

    A wonderful description and pictures of life in Cartagena

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