Cartagena: Wandering Streets in Steamy Heat

Without any real plans for the day, we opted to wander the streets of Cartagena No many how many times we have walked these streets, the bright houses and city walls have not lost their effect. We entered the city through the clock tower gate, Torre del Reloj. Entering through the gates, I was pleasantly surprised to see a market set up in the square. There was a big tent set up with stands selling all the handcrafted items that are sold in the streets of Cartagena. There were brightly colored mochillas, which are hand woven bags typical of Colombia. Amongst the mochillas were patterned espadrilles and bold jewelry. Mind you, there were also souvenirs like key chains, mugs and magnets. Cute but not exactly hand crafted. We’ve been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to shop at all in Cartagena so I was excited to get all my shopping done in one place.

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We did a loop around the city, taking in the charming streets lined with bright buildings and homes. Cartagena is a place where I barely used a map. The first day I wandered around not knowing where I was going at all. Now that I have been here for a week, I find myself in the same plazas again. The vibrant city has begun to feel more familiar. Yet, I am still unsure where exactly where we are going or what I am seeing and that is exciting to me. We  soon found ourselves in Plaza Santo Domingo, home to the fat lady statue “La Gordita”.

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Then we headed into a part of the city that we haven’t been in yet. We were delving further into the walled city. As we walked, I ran into Colombian kids that I met at breakfast. They were so cute and insisted on talking to me. I tried my best to keep up with the conversations, trying to recall as much Spanish as I could. While speaking with the kids, I saw a stand selling cheese filled breadsticks. Naturally I had to have one. It was the best authentic street food I’ve had so far. I walked around, cheese stick in hand until it started to rain. The forecast had shown rain all week and it has been humid but this is the first time it rained. I thought it would be refreshing but somehow the rain just steamed up Cartagena even more. When the rain subsided, it was the hottest it had been all day. We made our way through the humid streets back toward our hotel. We opted to spend the afternoon by the pool to beat the heat.

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After a refreshing and relaxing afternoon by the pool, we headed back to the old city for dinner. We wanted to go to Cafe Del Mar, where we could eat and watch the sunset over the Caribbean. When we got there, the sun was still setting yet they only sold fish entrees at the restaurant. A couple people in our group did not like fish so there wouldn’t be a point to eat there. We opted to watch the sun set before heading out to find somewhere else to eat. I was happy to watch the sun dip lower over the horizon until it faded behind the clouds.

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Unsure of where we wanted to eat, we ended up again in Plaza Santo Domingo. Finally, we decided to dine under the watchful eye of the fat lady statue at one of the many restaurants in the square. We ended up sitting at a restaurant that sold Italian food. While Italian food was an odd choice in Colombia, the food was good and the ambiance was amazing. The square was full of people, eating various foods as a local band played smoothly in the background. It ended up being a very nice night in Cartagena.

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