|Cartagena is for lovers.|
Cartagena is the ideal city if you are both a hopeless romantic and a dirty backpacker. It might be the most romantic city in the world, and one that won't hurt your wallet, either. That is, of course, if your wallet hasn't already gotten pickpocketed or robbed from you upon your arrival, like my shoes during my first visit here.
Beggars, prostitutes, tourists, and stray dogs roam Cartagena's historic district after the sun goes down. The streets are narrow and made of cobblestone. The buildings are quaint, colorful, and very old-looking. Street art is everywhere. The food here is as good as it is cheap, depending on where you go. There are elegant, high-end seafood restaurants with humble street vendors selling delicious arepas and other local foods right next to them. Beautiful, blossoming trees lurk in shaded spots and there's always a breeze as you walk along the water's edge.
|Isaac y Marta during a celebration of sorts in Cartagena, November 2018.|
Night falls and club lights flicker on, music blares, and women in tight dresses now roam the streets. But you pay no mind. You got everything you need.
For it is in the godforsaken hours of the morning when the world has gone to bed do you actually encounter Cartagena's best hour. The skies are still dark and dreary parakeets slowly begin to sing as they start their day. The blowing breeze cools you after a seemingly endless night full of eating, drinking, dancing, and walking. Love is in the air, literally, since the only other sound you hear besides the breeze and the birds are the sounds of those making love freely somewhere in a far off alley.
As you walk back to wherever you are staying, a dusty slice of concrete in a gutter somewhere looks like a fine spot for two lovers to sit for a while. A stray dog tugs at your ankle as you and yours are rolling around in the street dirtying yourselves, and you can't help but laugh. You laugh when you realize that you're no different than this hungry new buddy of yours, in behavior or appearance. You laugh when you realize that you are hungry, too. But you don't leave. You happily stay for a while, enjoying the breeze and wishing that moments like these would last.
As night turns into day, a brightly-painted wall of an already brightly-colored house gently starts to glow as the morning sun spills into the street.