02.06.2008 - 07.06.2008 35 °C
The thought of leaving my new friends is almost too much to handle. I will miss them more than you could imagine. I'm also slowly coming to the realization that it's not always about where you're travelling, but whom you travel with. I love d, v, c, s and t a lot. But I bite the bullet and book a flight to Colombia. Cuzco, Lima, Bogota and finally Cartagena. Ive had a great time and it's time for the next chapter. Colombia!
After a very late night I leave The Point with a tear in my bleary eye, in a taxi bound for the airport. I wave goodbye to Vikki and Clare from the back window and they get smaller and smaller, as we crawl down the busy street leaving Cuzco. The airport is not far and soon I'm checking in for my flight bound for Lima. I'm glad I decided not to do the twenty hour bus ride from Cuzco. Its a luxury to fly, but Ive heard that the road is horrible. I sit down outside the gate and spill half a coke bottle over my leg. The whole day is then spent in airports. Collecting my backpack from various carousels and rechecking in for the next leg (with a sticky leg). Everything runs on time, so can't really complain. I meet a nice Colombian man and his son on route from Lima to Bogota. Half way through the flight he asks the stewardess for a bowl of water. Then opens a bag which I hadn't noticed, on the floor between his legs. He has a puppy in it! Very cute and the first mutt I've ever seen on a flight. It's actually not a mutt, but some pedigree which the man breeds in Lima and sells via the Internet in Colombia. I think of e-pups and Pet back in London. I miss Pet.
I arrive Cartagena rather tired but very excited. I jump in a cab which takes me to the Marlin Hotel on Calle Media Luna. The hotel was a tip from Jade and Steve. I check in to my very own room with en suite. LUXURY!! Its about 100 degrees though and a sweaty as a Swedish sauna. I'm dripping and I feel my hair going boing, it's going to be curly!. After the last two months though the heat feels wonderful. Bolivia and Peru were sunny in the day but cold at night. Ive been cold to the bone for too long. I relish the warmth. Cartagena is a beautiful Colonial town on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It was the main port the Spanish used to ship all the gold and sliver to Europe, it also had a dubious slave trade. I have always wanted to go ever since watching Romancing the Stone with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. I wish I could have an adventure like hers. I wander the streets and find the food market. Amazing fruits, weird pancake things with cheese being cooked on hot plates (arepas), fresh donuts and tamales tolimenses (rice and beans and bits wrapped in banana leaves). I stuff my face and hope I don't succumb to motezumas revenge. I get back to the hotel. My room is now rather unpleasant, it's so hot that even the fan just seems to blow the sticky air onto you. I have a beads of sweat rolling off me.
After a good look round Cartagena I find the best cake shop ever. It's beautifully decorated and serves the best chocolate brownie with dulche de leche and coffee. It seems full of wealthy Colombians, I imagine they've made their money through the drug trade which I hear makes up 80% of Colombia's GDP. I love my furtive imagination. I sip my coffee and let the brownie and toffee melt on my tongue. In the evening relax in the reception area to read my book (uncomfortable wooden chairs). I meet Brian from Wisconsin. He's very nice and invites me out for dinner with his friends. I meet Tristan and Dor, Australian and Israeli respectively. We end up all going out for dinner with a German girl also travelling on her own. Cartagena is quite touristy but we seem to have a problem finding a suitable bar/club for after dinner. After walking round Cartagena about three times we end up and The Banana Bar. Which is essentially a hooker bar, catering for all the sailors who turn up in the port. It's fascinating to see all the working girls and their fake boobs, I don't need my imagination at all here. We end up all back in the boys room which has air con and is bliss. I'm invited to move in with them as they have a spare bed. I can't tell you how good air con is. It ruins my life. I cant live without it now. We spend the next few days literally just chilling in the room or going to the beach. Dor and I visit a Colombian Homebase to get a plug for his hair clippers. Its home from home, it has everything. Including mock Cotswold cladded gas fires?! One evening I've said I will cook for the boys and for a Colombian guest called Margarita (whom is a friend of a friend of Dors). I make a chicken stew with rice and Dor makes a yummy salad. The utensils in the kitchen are stupid. So it's quite an achievement to get anything. I cook with a massive spoon (abnormally big) in a pan with a burnt black bottom. The knives are so blunt it's like cutting with the blunt edge. We end up at a Salsa bar down the road till the early hours. Brian ends up in the clutches of Margarita (formidable), spending the rest of the romantic night in a room opposite ours (my old old room), he sneaks back into ours and the air con in the morning having escaped her...Unfortunately she left her sunglasses with us. We leave them behind reception for her and Brian keeps a low profile for the next few days. It's very relaxed in Cartagena and I love just watching the world go by. There is a great balcony in our hotel which overlooks the street. One morning we watch the sunrise from here and I hear a woman screaming in Spanish on the street below, obviously drunk and wasted. Dor translates the Spanish for me: "I'm not going to bed until someone fucks me for money". She shouts this for the next twenty minutes until I head to bed. I'm sad, Calle Media Luna is sad. Its a poor street and although I'm lucky to be here and travelling. I'm surrounded by real lives which are lived on the edge. It's easy to miss this side of life.
The next morning I head into town for a fresh orange juice. There is jolly woman with an orange stall. While I'm waiting for my juice I'm asked by a 60something man (he looks like he should be in the Sopranos) if I'd like a seat next to him while I drink my juice. The woman knows him, so I sit with him and drink my juice. He starts talking with me and I understand some of what he's saying but a younger man joins us and ends up translating. The man wants to know about my trip and if I'm single. He has always wanted a blond English wife apparently. I say I am, and he then offers to marry me!? Officially my first ever proposal. I sip my juice and have to answer no, but he's kind for asking and I blush at the thought. That evening we are invited to a house party. It's in a flat overlooking the main square in Cartagena. It's the first time in ages I hear good music and mix with people other than fellow travellers. I start drinking rum straight which I really like. You end up drinking a ton of pop otherwise.
The next day I check out, say bye to the boys and head to Santa Marta on the bus. Colombians are super friendly and I love Colombia!
The Cartagena sloth in the park, so sweet, so slow!
Rollerblade track with girls in cycling catsuits.
Tristan/Dor love triangle (ridiculous).
Breakfast, we order the same thing but its always arrives different.
Coffee = addict
Medellin Rum, straight, the only way to drink it.
Could be married andliving in Colombia...?!