Colombia: An Explorer's Paradise (Part II)
After exploring coffee country, next it was off to Cartagena to see the Caribe side of Colombia. This was the port capitol I was looking for, the centre of trade for the new world, and it was hot and humid and sexy and colourful, like the southern ports of my misspent youth in New Orleans, Charleston and Puerto Rico. Walled and ancient, and such a fun place to explore. It had that madness the heat brings on a place, which makes it the perfect sort of place for things like Mardi Gras, music and street parties.
It reminded me of the French quarter in New Orleans without all the fraternity and sorority parties; it was larger, lived in, and full of smaller alley ways where you can still hear the echo of pirates and stow-aways, and words like patina and nostalgia float to the top of your mind when you head out for a meal or into your hotel.
And in a country that is on the go and growing with hotels, Cartagena, for a city its size, has a drastically large variety to choose from when it comes to world-class service and style. My favourite was the Casa San Agustin on Calle de la Universidad. Small, tasteful, hip and private, it made me feel like a local and like I was being doted on at the same time.
After Cartagena we flew back to Bogota for a long weekend before heading home and were able to digest all that we had seen. It was a country of variety: multiple mountains, oceans, and jungles, Caribe, Inca and Spanish. In just a couple of weeks you can feel like you have seen three different and distinct countries.
As cheesy as it sounds, there is a magic in the air—the same one Gabriel Garcia Marquez describes in his stories. And as much as I may hate to admit it, Colombia’s new motto, “Magical Realism,” actually fits the bill quite nicely.