It’s a tropically warm day and the strong sun beats down and turns the sand to coals but it is still unable to eliminate the moisture from the air.
The humidity explains why the flowers and deep green leaves, spilling over the wooden balconies of vividly colourful houses down to the pavement below, are so predominant within the colonial walled city of Cartagena.
Once the sun sets over the 500 year old wall that once protected the city from pirates, the sound of horse hooves takes over the silence; it comes from carriages carrying romance-seeking couples around the picturesque old city.
Around a lush plaza are quaint cafes, their tables spilling out onto the pavement, fatigued fans working overdrive to keep the customers happy. You can’t once doubt that Cartagena’s walled city deserves its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This is a city of little activity (it’s too hot to do much) except for soaking in the atmosphere, observing the brightly dressed women selling fruit, hearing the harmonic sounds of mass as you walk past open ancient church doors, breathing in the scents of the numerous street stalls selling fried food and enjoying the feel of salty water against your skin as you swim away from the flocks of hawkers on the beach at Bocagrande.
Cartagena won my heart with very little effort, but the experience was enhanced by sharing it with some fabulous people, old friends and new.
I know already that when I reminisce about this time later, it won’t be the picturesque streets I’ll remember, or the sweltering heat, but sitting on the low wall in the plaza outside our favourite dinner spot, Pizza en el Parque, wolfing down the pizza placed on stools in front of us while marvelling or cringing at the various street performers entertaining us.
More from Colombia…
This country is bound to surprise and inspire you. I love it, and here’s why you will too: