The Perfect Caribbean City

Trip Start Sep 07, 2011
Trip End Dec 22, 2011

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Flag of Colombia  , Bolívar,
Sunday, October 16, 2011

When I visited Cartagena about four years ago, I fell in love with the city.   Visiting again reminds me all over again why traveling is an amazing experience.  After yesterday's full day assault on the senses, a chill day of nothing is what we all had in mind.   A few hours walking around the old town taking in the architecture and street life were about all I needed to feel sufficiently relaxed and part of the city.

This city of 900,000 is right on the Caribbean but aquaturd grey waters are more the norm due to  sewage flowing right in.   I read that boating about seven miles offshore is the sweet spot to find proper tourist brochure waters, and some nearby islands are worth a visit.   A highrise beach district sprawls about a mile from the historic center where I am, but these dubious beaches are not what have drawn me here in the first place.   I saw some of the finest in the area across the San Blas Islands and now a little dose of city and civilization are what I need.  Besides I am done with boats for a while after yesterday's ride.

Walking around aimlessly experiencing the city is a good way to meet interesting people, and I had to laugh today when I ordered a street stand piece of pizza to go.   Keep in mind the whole process about exhausted my entire restaurant vocabulary.   "Una porcion por favor.  Para llevar."  One piece to go please.   These few basic words rolling off my tongue so moved an American guy standing next to me, he told me he wished he was fluent like me.  Too bad he hadn't observed me only hours earlier ordering una empenada con pollo por favor from a metal street cart complete with boiling oil and racks of the pastries.

This guy obviously has yet to see me when a machine gun barrage of words hits me during a simple transaction, and I have to yell across the street for one of my travel friends to come rescue me.   No worries.  I will take the compliment and for sure being able to handle the basics of life en espanol is a welcome change of pace from my normal travels where pictures and sign language have been my last resort.

What Spanish I do know comes from listening to other people and reading signs.   Knowing how to say elevator, speedbump and highway several different ways will one day prove useful.  I can feel it coming as I travel deeper into South America to places I don't even yet know exist.   And speaking of places unknown to Americans, when I visited Cartagena the first time hardly any Americans were to be seen down in these parts.  Now that Colombia is a safe destination for the masses, I am seeing Americans all over the city.   I am happy to see my fellow countrymen branching out beyond the Bahamas and England to places a little more interesting to the senses.

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