As Beautiful as I Remembered.

There is always the risk that time and distance skew memories from the reality. I was nervous that the Cartagena I’d built up in my mind was out of touch with the city I couldn’t wait to return to.  Luckily my mind is exceptional. Well in this case I got lucky and Cartagena was just as amazing as I’d remembered it. Now for some Random Thoughts from Cartagena


It’s hot. And Humid. Like being stuck in Satan’s armpit as he goes for a nice jog around the deserts of hell.


“Hey man you from the US? You want some cocaine? It’s legal here”


The people are as nice as can be.  Patient with a 1.5-lingual gringo and always smiling. Even when they are trying to scam you on a fake Rolex.


In the matter of five minutes I negotiated the price on a fake Rolex from $80 to $6. During that time the hands never moved. I pointed it out to the guy. We both laughed and I went on my way.


I love street vendors. Both those who harass tourists and those who are there for the locals. Especially the latter.


Limonada and freshly sliced local fruits for less than $1 is an ideal snack.


Motorcycle taxis scare me. Correction. Scare the hell out of me.


“Hey man you from the US? You want some heroin? It’s legal here man.”


Crepes y Waffles is divine. I don’t care if it’s chain restaurant because it is awesome. Specifically the Baby Doll. Seriously, look it up.


I was invited to a cock fight by a guy called The Gentleman. “It’s legal here.” He showed me pics on his phone of his bird and told me he was going up again a rooster from Panama. I showed up at the appointed time to catch a ride over to the sketchy Getsemani with him to see lil Yerry Seinfeld get his clocked cleaned but The Gentleman was not where he said he’d be.  Disappointing. Good chance it would have ended with my demise but what better way to go out than at a cockfight in Colombia.


The next day I was invited to another totally legal cockfight.  I decided to skip this one.


I love fried plantains.


I bought two 2XL counterfeit Colombian soccer jerseys. One fits perfect, the other I can barely squeeze into.  Neither would even be considered an XL in the US.  Not sure if that says more about our obesity problem or QC at the “$8 jersey” sweatshop.


“Hey man you from the US? Want some marijuana? It’s totally legal here.”


Colombians, for lack of a better word, are kind. Yeah I already said they were nice but it deserves to be reiterated.  From my coworker hooking me up with a nice meal in his cousin’s restaurant, to my taxi driver Rodrigo, to the front desk clerk at the Hampton Inn my last night, everyone I met, even those trying to hook me up with drugs are extremely kind. I’m tempted to use the word gentle but that’s not right.  Maybe it’s the gringo mystique I have about me but from the time I boarded the plane in Miami (and technically the night before when I had dinner with my Colombian amigo Frank) until I deplaned 5 days later I found nothing but kind, friendly people.


Colombian Castellano is spoken softly and mumbled. A lot like my English.  Made the communication harder. By day 5 I was feeling comfortable with the language. Just in time to get on the plane


The top of my deodorant broke off and fell in the toilet.  A toilet not designed to flush paper is not going to handle 3/4s of an inch of waxy Old Spice very well.  I had fun digging it out.


The Hotel Casa la Fe has immaculate bathrooms and excellent hot water.


Colombian markets pretty much only carry spray deodorant. Lame. They also sell decent socks just in case you need to know.


I eavesdropped on 5 gringos exchanging business cards at the Cartagena airport. All of them work in ‘energy; and I kind of wish I had their job.  Much better than traveling to Harrisburg.


Watching a World Club qualifier on the street with a bunch of locals is a fantastic experience everyone should enjoy.


There are only so many jokes you can make to the smoking hot prostitutes before their giant of a pimp decides it’s no longer funny and you tuck tail and book it to your hotel. Even if “it’s totally legal man.” That guy was not happy with my bargaining skills. This happened on my last night there. I was starting feel like I’d lost my charm with the ladies in Cartagena.  Last time I was there I was approached by quite possibly the most attractive woman I’ve ever seen. Evidence enough she was in it for the money.  Glad I still got it with the Professionals. The smoking hot non-professional Colombianas wanted nothing to do with me.


The customs guy in the US could not figure out why my backpack was so heavy. Couldn’t believe I was there for only 5 days. I tried to explain to him how damn hot it was in Cartagena. He decided to go through my bag anyway and after I pointed out I had two sets of clothes for each day to deal with the sweat he decided to let me go.  Just one more reason to love that place. The oppressive heat just adds to the character and the charm.


Lots of 90 series Land Cruisers in Cartagena. Most of which are diesel. Nice.


Give me a cold coke and a curb to sit on and I can people watch for hours. I can do this anywhere. It just so happens Cartagena is one of the most enjoyable places I’ve ever done it.


I’m headed back to Orlando in the spring. Maybe I’ll find the time to hop over to Colombia again. Or maybe I’ll man up and give Venezuela a shot.