Another day of sun awaits me in the hot and humid city of Cartagena. With the intention of making this trip the most relaxing vacation, I didn’t even consider setting an alarm to wake me up. Even if I sleep all day, the sun sets at 6:00 leaving me with plenty of time to lounge on the beach. However, by the luck of the draw, we managed to wake up in time for a delicious continental breakfast. With our stomachs full and ready for digestion, we made our way to the beautiful beach just steps from our hotel room. We grabbed a pair of loungers, placed them under a beach umbrella and laid in the sun, soaking up every possible ray of sunshine. That only lasted about ten minutes. Let me tell you about the weather. Hot is an understatement. Now combine that with incredibly humid and you’ve got yourself a steam room (or in this case city). Without having stepped foot in the water, we were already soaked (call it humidity, call it sweat). To cool off, we made our way through the fiery heat of the sand and into the equally warm water of the Caribbean Sea. That’s right, it was warm, like walking into a hot tub. Although unable to cool off, the water was gorgeous and the waves were calm. It was bliss. The sounds of the waves crashing against the shoreline, the feeling of cool, smooth sand in between your toes, the heat of the sun on your head while the rest of your body remains cool submerged under water, and the unforgettable taste of salt in your mouth.
After hours of swimming and the need to get out of burning 2:00 pm sun, we made our way back to the hotel for a Colombian style lunch. Delicious ham and cheese empanadas, rice cooked in a pan with shrimp and scallops, and of course for the Canadian in me, a side of pasta drizzled in a Colombian style cheese sauce.
After lunch, we explored the many pools the hotel has to offer, one of which has a gorgeous open view of the beach. Much more cooling than the Sea, the pool was refreshing. A hot day with a high of 34 degrees, the cold water of the pool was a necessity. Eventually however, we found ourselves back at the giant, open beach. Taking advantage of the space, a group of Colombian boys set up nets outlined by coconuts and played a game of beach futbol (soccer). Skins vs. Jerseys. Watching them kick around the ball reminded me of my brothers. Any opportunity and they were out playing a game of footy.
As the day became night, we decided to visit the Old Historic Town once more. We jumped in a cab and made our way downtown. The fare was 15000 pesos (relax now, that’s only about $4). The town was much more active at night, they called it the Mykonos of Colombia (Mykonos is the party island of Greece). Around every corner and plaza, you could hear a slightly different variation of music. There were groups of four with varying guitars, singing for the tourists as they enjoyed dinner. There were solo artists playing either the saxophone, drums, or the accordion. Other Colombian teenagers walked around with stereos, performing freestyle rap verses for incoming tourists. The night was alive, everywhere you walked there was something new to enjoy.
We continued walking throughout the Historic Town, admiring the stores and architecture. Two things stood out the most. Every house in town was marked by a very special object, what is referred to in Spanish as a llamador. A llamador is a door knocker and every house had its own variation of design, style, shape, and color. Some of them resembled animals like koi fish, while others resembled the faces of Greek gods like Poseidon. Historically appealing, these artifacts are one of many sites that attracts the eyes of tourists. Another show stealer common in all of Colombia, is the high supply of emeralds. Between every store and restaurant, a magnificent jeweler is stationed with an endless supply of rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and other accessories plated in gold and silver. Whether you’re looking for your classic deep, rich green or decide to opt for a lighter grassy green with processed emeralds as well as raw mined emerald rocks, any design you could think of, a jeweler is bound to have it. To this day, Colombia has the largest share of production of emeralds in the world, followed by Zambia.
Towards the finale of our night, we decided to stop for a light dinner before we retired back to the hotel. We stopped at a gorgeous restaurant called Harry’s. My mother ordered a delicious shrimp cocktail that came with cubed avocado and mango pieces. I, on the other hand, ordered a Jamon Serrano appetizer. Little did I know the appetizer was a giant plate of dry-cured Spanish ham served in thin slices, very characteristic of latino culture.