Goodbye Cartagena de Indias
A week ago, on Tuesday I arrived to Cartagena. It shocked me with it’s tropical heat and I lay knocked out on the bed for a few hours trying to adapt. I was close to leaving it the next day, but slowly it’s charm won me over and I was actually beginning to consider staying here for the initially planned 2 weeks and study spanish.
The issue with such plan, however, is that…. well there are simply 2 reasons: #1 it’s super hot/humid, which makes it hard to focus/study and #2 is that it’s a very transient place for tourists, which makes it difficult to stay oncourse and not get involved in all kinds of parties taking place around this tinny town. I was staying in Chill House hostel, which is truly amazing, simple, down-to-earth little place with hammock, kitchen, living room and located in a beautiful colonial plaza in the San Diego area of Cartagena. Best of all, people that run it are amazing – upbeat, friendly and chatty. All that said, I decided to escape the heat and busy charming life of Cartagena for a quiet little spot in the mountains, about 5 hours north of Cartagena – a town called Minca.
What you get to see in Cartagena. E-v-e-r-y s-i-n-g-l-e d-a-y!
I was also lucky enough to have my camera one night as I was walking on the wall surrounding the city – took some awesome shots of lightning and town during my favorite time of the day – dusk.
It’s not difficult to describe what it feels like to live in Cartagena for a week, but I know this brief recount will not do justice. Just imagine a small Spanish colonial town with almost every building perfectly preserved, including a courtyard in each building. It’s surrounded by a wall that was used to protect the city. You can walk everywhere and around every corner you can find a beautiful plaza, antique church and mostly locals slowly strolling about their day, careful not to break a sweat in this 100% humid and year-round 87F temperature.
At night the place comes to live with many small bars and salsa pubs. What you have there is plenty of loud salsa music, friendly locals who are always willing to dance, walls covered with owner photos with him and his many favorite salsa singers from all over the world and plenty-a-beer. Aguila (colombian beer) is probably #3 or #4 most used word in my current spanish dictionary, after “gracias” and “donde esta”? As far as salsa, it’s amazing, there are so many different types of salsa. Even northern Colombia has many recognizable types of salsa, with a town Mompos (more inland) being one of the places that produced many great singers.
It’s been a great week here and I met some great people, whom I will probably bump into later down the road, as many are traversing similar routers in the near future.
After a soak in the mud inside Volcano Totumo in the background.
And as of this afternoon you can find me 12km inland from Santa Marta, but up at 600m elevation (about 2000 ft), where weather is cool and the area, Minca, has something like 33% of all species of birds. Just cooking dinner earlier tonight I was joined by some really cool creatures, including humming bird with green belly and some beautiful yellow butterfly, the size of which I don’t know how to describe.
Took this from my window before the sunset. You can see Santa Marta in the distance. Love the weather here. Such an oasis.