Continuing part 1 of the adventure, I have been wanting to go to Colombia for 5 years now, pretty much ever since I have heard about the splendors and wonders of Cartagena.
The thing though is that sometimes when you travel too much, it can be akin to over-dating. Once you’ve been around the block long enough, you must have gone out with most types (the credentials guy, the jock, the insecure but overcompensating guy, the shady guy, etc) and have had every possible conversation. Then about 5 minutes into your next date, you had already figured out the type. Then you get bored and start nodding in the right places, stealing glances to the nearest clock and hoping your friend will call with some emergency to bail you out. Unless, the guy turns out to be REALLY SOMETHING SPECIAL. Then the story is completely different.
Anyways, I am regressing. Back to the story: I had very high expectations of my first date with Cartagena, but then I found it quite similar to other touristic colonial towns I’ve been too. It was like the initial excitement of going out with a really good looking guy and later finding out that he is actually quite superficial and wouldn’t stop taking about the latest episode of Big Brother. Well, I guess I am exaggerating. It’s a cute little town but there’s not much to do after day 2.
We had a terrible experience of visiting Baru Island’s Playa Blanca that held the promise of being heaven on earth but in reality turned out to be a tourist voodoo torture chamber for the local vendors. After being shoved (and charged) under a sun umbrella, we spent the whole day fending off massages, sweets, sea food, jewelry and anything else imaginable (I suppose this can be paralleled to a date with a guy that doesn’t get the meaning of the word “No”). Finally, we had to fight for our lives to get out, as the locals pushed us out as they stormed the return boat as if they were going to be stranded on the island (while the foreign tourists quietly waited in line for their turn to board).
Bogota, on the other hand, was more like a date with someone average who turns out to be quite interesting and then you start discovering that he has a nice smile and his eyes sparkle when he laughs and then after the date, you want to know more.
I spent a wonderful afternoon strolling around the brownstone tree-lined streets of Zona Rosa residential neighborhood. Then took a taxi to the artsy district of Usaquen, where I checked out the local artsy market and local crowd. I finally got to try the delicious Ajiaco soup I have been waiting for the entire trip. Bogota was also great for shopping, for souvenirs or otherwise, with many interesting and beautiful options