Christmas in Cartagena was a wicked sensory delight of sights, sounds and sunshine.
The old walled city of Cartagena was the first Spanish colony of the continent (says Wikitravel). It got ‘pinned’ on my brain while doing some travel-based research. And since Colombia was the first South American country Souvik wanted to travel to outside Peru, the Christmas destination decision was a breeze.
The vibe was all party. After sundown, there were hotspots to soak in the atmosphere, combined with cheap beer, street performers and the smells of cart food, punctuated by the booming ‘Chiva’ busloads filled with partying people.
The daytime offered up the entire gamut of colours and textures in the universe, from the aquamarine waters of the Caribbean Sea to the multicoloured buildings in the old quarters, plays of light and shadow, each lane beckoning us to explore, and opening up more opportunities to gasp and gaze.
Occasionally it was nice to see a stretch of plain white or grey, or even better, catch a sight of the sea beyond the walls.
Besides strolling about the lanes of Cartagena, I caught up on my diving skills in the Caribbean island of Rosario with Diving Planet, after the long break from Indonesia. I persuaded Souvik to join me on a day of ‘island-hopping’ and snorkelling around Playa Blanca, which ended up as the worst form of torture being heckled by touts, getting scraped on the beach, scammed by the snorkelling and finally drenched in the boat spray on the ride back.
So we decided it was more relaxing to step back into the colourful lanes.
And of course, there were the people. The tourists, and those catering to them: a range of gorgeous skin tones, beautiful smiles, wearing the colours of the Colombian flag, selling fruits, selling hats, selling photo ops, and adding the extra sizzle to the electrifying atmosphere.
We dared not forget the guy giving out free hugs, right around our hotel corner, enticing people into his restaurant. The food was great, I’ll agree, but Souvik found the hugs unpalatable after the first one. We had a great time posing at strategic spots though.