I finally dragged myself away from Medellin and I hit the night bus for Cartagena. After yet another twelve hour journey through twisty turny mountain roads I was deposited on the outskirts of Cartagena. Stepping from the ice cold bus I immediately broke out into a sweat due to the intense searing heat and the humidity and I was to remain a hot, damp sweaty mess for the following five weeks. I was so damp that the metal clips on my bra got rusty!
If you remember the film Romancing the Stone you will know that it is about a writer called Joan Wilder who ends up having all sorts of adventures in Cartagena with Michael Douglas. It became a bit of a family joke that I (Jane Wilder) may eventually end up in the dangerous Colombian countryside so I was keen to check out the area.
I was intially disappointed to discover that no filming was acutally done in Colombia and that no snappers (alligators) are roaming around in catacombs under the old city walls.
However, Cartagena did not disappoint. I had the best of times here and as is becoming a bit of a pattern, I ended up spending a lot more time around here than I originally intended.
To begin with I checked into the Mamallena hostel on Calle Media Luna. This street is a hive of activity and in my mind is THE best place to be located if you stay in Cartagena. These little streets throb. Yes, they are noisy and dirty and very overwhelming but it is nitty gritty life acted out in front of you everywhere you look. Just along the road by the park the prostitutes sit and watch the world go by, the beggars roam around in their rags searching through the rubbish and you will probably be offered all sorts of drugs, but don’t let any of this put you off. Everybody is very friendly and just getting on with their own lives in their own way.
There is the famous Club Havana salsa club on the corner of the street although the night that I got in there it was standing room only and no dancing was physically possible. There are countless bars, restaurants and clubs here and the walled city is just a couple of blocks away, so as I said, it is the perfect location
After spending almost a week here during which I visited the castle and I spent a night in a hammock on the idylic beach at Playa Blanca, a face from the past (a Frenchman that I had previously met in Medellin) turned up at my hostel. After a brief chat and discovering that we were both heading up to Santa Marta a few days later, me and Lio decided to team up and travel together.
My time on the Carribean coast all began quite normally but it soon escalated into a time of craziness which spun me way outside of my comfort zone and ended up with me having half of my hair cut off!
You can read about that crazy time in a future post but I did survive and after nearly two weeks on the coast in which I was the victim of a failed robbery, I got invited to an ayahuasca ceremony and I almost got arrested on a beach I ended up back in Cartagena again.
I only intended to stay for four days this time because I had seen most of the city, but as usual I ‘got stuck’. I don’t know what it is about Colombia but I keep sticking.
Oh, I do know what it is about Colombia. It is the people that I have been meeting – Colombians and travellers alike – who have been marching into my life and forcing me to re-evaluate myself – and dare I say this – to actually begin to like myself!