Sweat runs down my forehead and onto my phone screen as I type out this subpar introduction. Cartagena is our first stop in Colombia, mostly because it has beaches and beach is necessary for someone who just finished the Salkantay trek. From what I know, the major layout of Cartagena includes the city center, surrounded by walls and canyons, the neighborhood outside, and the beach section. The average temperature in Cartagena is 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The impression Cartagena leaves me is its laziness, perhaps due to the heat, or perhaps something else. It really lays to contrast to Cuzco where everyone is out selling everyday, and its bustling central market.
Soon we were acquainted with the city and found out the cheap spots to eat and to find groceries.
When the temperature goes from 100 to 90 from the day to night, people start to come out. Either young people going to party within the walls, or the older crowd all sit in front of couple stores pounding beers. This is our fourth and last day here, but I still don’t have a feel for the city.
However, we made sure to visit all the beaches Cartagena has to offer. First we visited Playa Bocagrande, its a big beach with so so sand. You rent out a sitting area with umbrellas and sit on the beach watching people try to sell you stuff. One thing we bought was a fruit very similar to lychee but green and smaller. It has a pink interior, with a large seed, but its extremely delicious.
The next day we took an hour bus to Playa Blanca, the beach known for its bluish hue and white sand. The sand is soft and the water is blue, however, the area of the sand is quite small. Despite there not having electricity, beach side hostels and cabanas are all over the place. I imagined the beach to be less touched, but tourism has taken a piece of the canvas. Boats also take and send people to Playa Blanca, but boats take longer to get there and back. The coast of Playa Blanca is extremely long, walking further down you can get away from all the cabanas. Many people chose to sleep over the night or more nights, but we left the same day because Copa America final was on the same day. Yes, Chile.
In conclusion, Cartagena didn’t really do it for me, the laziness really rubs off. It’s hard for me to watch people in the hostel just chilling in the pool when I leave to explore in the morning and still there when I get back. However, we did meet a few interesting Colombians. Hope Santa Marta and Tayrona will be fun.