Published: June 16th 2017
Geo: 10.4137, -75.5336
Our days run together under the sweltering skies. Every morning here at Casa Marta we sit at a black iron table laid with red and white linens and white china. Marta’s gracious helpers, Albi and Miguel serve us coffee and tea, fresh juice, fresh fruit and whatever strikes their fancy as breakfast.
Sometimes it’s eggs, more often it’s a local dish of arepa-something. Arepa stuffed with egg or cheese or served with a dry crumbly white cheese or made into a pancake or fat fried… Arepa is made from corn and is to them what tortillas are to a Mexican. Every meal includes arepa, fried plantains and rice.
After breakfast we generally saunter over to old walled town entering through one of the clock tower’s three arches. There’s always something going on there and sitting in Juan Valdez coffee shop is the only time we get to visit with anyone in English.
But it doesn’t take long before it’s just too hot and we head back to our air conditioned room until around 4:00 when the sun begins to soften it’s brutal grip.
Evenings are magical. Plazas and streets everywhere overfill with people. I wrote this of our first
Friday in Cartagena:
We stepped outside our door tonight to find hundreds of people walking the streets, hanging out in the plaza, grabbing snacks from street vendors, visiting with friends… They’re everywhere.
A skinny legged girl in short skirt and hiking boots sells candy she and her friend have made from chocolate, oats, Arequipa (tropical fruit) and banana. There’s a tottering old lady with a cane, a busty babe in 4″ heels, kids on bicycles careening through everything, boys hunting girls and girls happy to be found. There’s a little girl in a ruffly pink skirt riding a pink bicycle with pink tennies –some things never change.
There’s a juggler, a girl with a hula hoop, a boy on roller blades, and guys selling shots wearing masks on the back of their heads. The aroma of grilled meat wafts through the air mingled with the intoxicating smell of fresh bread.
We pass a kid delivering tomato sauce — he piles 6 gallon cans in his arms for each trip into the restaurant. Another goes by with a dozen 2-liter bottles of water on his shoulder.
A young couple scoots over so we can share the rock wall they’re
sitting on. We watch the enchanted scene before us for awhile, then saunter off to see what else is going on.
The streets are so narrow if you happen to be passing one of the many food venders when a cab goes by you could get your feet run over. Seriously. These are soooooo narrow. Cafes have set up tables on the narrow sidewalks so you’re forced to walk in the streets half the time but it’s chancy.
We stopped at one very busy cafe and to make room they put our table in the street with our chairs up on the edge of the sidewalk. That put the table top even with our knees– felt a little like a kid’s tea party. The food was awesome though and with all the people-watching we were doing we thoroughly enjoyed the slow service.
By now there are over 300 people clogging the plaza and adjoining streets. There are one or two beer drinkers but mostly it’s just families and young people out visiting and enjoying the cool evening air.
Police are everywhere– four on motorcycles pass by one way and shortly after we see a dozen on foot in full riot
gear come sauntering around the corner with shields dangling casually by their sides. Our waiter said there had been a demonstration in the south and they were on their way back to their headquarters (just across the street from where we’re staying).
And it’s not even 8:00 yet.
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