Todays stop had been on the top of Kurt’s list as he had traveled through Columbia with a back pack decades ago. Filled with excitement, we approached this scenic port in tge Caribbean Sea mid day and waited impatiently for Onward the be cleared by local authorities. Once ashore, we walked toward tte port excit, met our guide Belkin and passed through a tropical zoo with peacocks, flamingo and a pandemonium of colorful parrots on our way to the private car we had arranged with #BigFive.
This 1.5 million people city is packed to the brim with local Colombian visitors during this holiday week. Traffic is a total mess and our luxurious Mercedes with individual captains chairs and AC was the perfect vehicle to survive the chaos and stay cool in this equatorial climate of 80+% humidity and 90 degrees.
After a 30 minute drive we got to our first stop in central Cartagena de las indias. The castle in front of us was built back in the 1530s by the Spanish conquistadors to protect this critical harbor from invasion. Made of coral rocks and mud brick on St. Lazarus hill, this fortifications secured tge bay side approach to the city and secret tunnels connected the top of the castle with homes in the colonial city center.
A short distance later, we arrived in the neighborhood of Getsemani where we met Carolina the chef of Oh La La Bistro for a local cooking and lunch experience. From her local shopping of unusual ingredients to supporting the farm to table movement, she has created a training program for girls to learn the culinary trade. Our visit included a gastronomic tasting menu of African yam soup, ceviche with mango and a stewed beef dish with plantains.
The entire experience and conversations were enriching and expanded our mutual horizons. To walk off and digest this tasty meal, we toured the colorful neighborhood under Belkin’ guidance. The streets are fully decorated in murals, flags and more to pay tribute to the Afro-Latin culture.
Stay tuned for the continuation of our day in Cartagena on my next blog.