So I made to Cartagena without a hitch. I even got to pester the British girl who shared a cab to the airport with me about her massive hickey (yet another hostel stereotype come to life!). She laughed and said that only Americans were “brave” (or maybe she meant “rude”) enough to ask her about it directly. Side note: Avianca is seriously the best airline I’ve ever flown. They are so friendly! From the customer call center to the ticket agents and even the flight attendants, it’s actually a joy to fly with them. They even let me carry on my massive backpack when it exceeded the weight limit by 5 lbs (it weighed in at a gentle 26 lbs). Speaking of which, my back might actually be breaking in slow motion. I think I’m going to need a chiropractor once this trip is over.
I landed here on this sunny island without a plan. For the past few days I’ve been walking around and taking in the sights of the old city and neighboring barrio, Getsemani. While all this free time has been relaxing and I enjoy waking up every day without a plan, I started to feel a bit bored and wanted to learn something about the town I was spending so much time in. So I got online and did some quick research on “things to do” and “walking tours”. And then I saw it… a street food walking tour with an Australian expat named Kristy. Sold! So I sent a quick email to see if she could fit me in. Lucky for me, she had some time this afternoon so we set up a meeting for 3pm.
For most of you, daylight savings is a real thing. I thought it was for me too, but apparently Colombia gives the middle finger to daylight savings. So I waited for about an hour and thought Kristy had abandoned me. Then I awkwardly admitted to being an idiot when she was confused about why I thought she was an hour late. Lucky for me, Kristy was super cool and didn’t hold it against me. And with that… the tour began. It was awesome. I’ve come to realize how important food is for me during this international experience. As we walked around, sampling strange and exotic new foods I felt as if I were in heaven. It’s kind of how I imagine my boyfriend to feel on an 8 hr hike, up a steep mountain with nature all around him (all I feel in these situations is panic and an acute awareness of my out of shapeness).
So we spent 2 hours together talking and walking. I peppered her with questions about how she ended up in Cartagena (a breakup and strong desire to travel) and about the food we were trying. It was all so amazing… arepas con queso, arepas con huevos, green mango with salt, pepper and lime juice, lulo fruit smoothies, guava paste with cheese, deep fried coconut, guava brisos (popsicles) and coconut water straight from the coconut served in a plastic bag much like a water balloon to name a few. At the end of our tour, I sat down completely satisfied. Being on a tight budget, I can’t do everything I want. I could have spent the money on a day at the beach, or touring a mud volcano but in those moments after our tour ended, I knew without a doubt that it was the best experience I could have given myself. It’s been a little lonely here in Cartagena. The hostel I’m staying at has an odd set up and a weird vibe so meeting people hasn’t been as easy. Spending time with someone and learning about something I’m interested in was a nice way to connect, even if just for a few hours. I definitely feel inspired to keep my eye out for other food tours in the cities and towns I’m going to visit.
The picture above was taken from the rooftop of a nice hotel here in Cartagena. Kristy loves to show people the view from up here and now you can see why! Below is a quick shot I took of the candy jars on the Plaza de Reloj. So many to choose from!