Time moves quickly – even in Cartagena

When I first got here, each second felt elongated, weighted down by humidity then baked in place by the sun.  Realizing I’ve been here almost two weeks this morning came as a  shock.  How could the weeks have flown while my body  crawled in Caribbean time, drugged by the heat and alternatively stimulated by sounds, smells, and the unexpected daily pleasure of getting lost.  Unbelievable.  And like so many ‘challenges’,  my initial frustrations with housing, torrential rains and sorting through my responsibilities as a teacher trainer are like a forgettable made-for-TV movie:  hazy on details, a pleasant few hours without the need to ever see it again.

A spa treatment for the adventurer at the Tumero Volcano mud bath.  200 meters deep, I had trouble staying vertical in the mineral rich mud.  Fortunately there were women in the lagoon to scrub the mud off us.  We have no idea how lucky we are….

A spa treatment for the adventurer at the El Tutumo Volcano mud bath. 200 meters deep, I had trouble staying vertical in the mineral rich mud. Fortunately there were women in the lagoon to scrub the mud off. We have no idea how lucky we are….

My student had it worse.  Becoming a TOEFL teacher is challenging under any circumstances.  Imagine: this guy Skyped his first two weeks of class – in a place with temperamental wi-fi.  Mr. Gomez, his teacher, never showed.  A practice class never materialized  (expect for one student!).  I showed up half-way through and disrupted his 90 minute lunch routine, while overloading his brain.  This guy is ready for anything!

 

This street is remarkable for it's graffiti - I walked through it often on the way to class.

This street is remarkable for it’s graffiti – I walked through it often on the way to class.

I don't think I've ever seen 2-dimensional wall mural before this one - imagine these reliefs covering a wall about 20' x 20'

I don’t think I’ve ever seen 2-dimensional wall mural before this one – imagine these reliefs covering a wall about 20′ x 20′

Wandering deserted city streets at noon today with no place to be, I silently commended people for brilliantly staying out of the sun for a short siesta.  I had my sun umbrella (of course) walking the talk:  ‘Why does Linda cross the street?”  “To get out of the sun”.  Fortunately streets are narrow and easy to jot across as I zig zagged to success – finally finding the Colombian artist Botero’s reclining woman.

 

Patting this Botero's statue is said to bring luck.  She's the one on the right.

Patting this Botero’s statue is said to bring luck. She’s the one on the right.

Small squared and galleries are filled with art that is easy to enjoy while walking through the streets

Small squared and galleries are filled with art that is easy to enjoy while walking through the streets

This Ciudad Viejo (the old walled city Cartagena is known for) is all about the tourists, though locals swarm the streets selling hats, jewelry, and fruit.  I have to differentiate because this area is not cheap.  Food costs are comparable to what we’d pay in the U.S..  The typical salary is about $200/month USD.  The math doesn’t add up.  Most people work 2 jobs just to make ends meet – a universal story.  I’ve passed homes without windows at ground level close to swampy areas that must easily flood – as I notice elevated homes meters away.  Thatch roofs look charming on an urban restaurant, and utilitarian on a small hut planted on a rural hill with scrawny horses and cattle grazing close by.  All this from my first world perspective – what goes through the minds of locals as they watch tourists pour through their city showering pesos for drinks and consumables like it’s raining money.

Fishing 'village at the local beach ouside the city walls

Fishing ‘village at the local beach outside the city walls

This is the other side of that same group - cars were parked on the road as people came to buy.

This is the other side of that same group – cars were parked on the road as people came to buy.

Today I’ll take advantage of my last day moving in slow motion.  Drink coffee at Juan Valdez, visit the pallateria  and eat fish so fresh it must have just come from the sea – just check out the pictures above.  That and listen to the tales of fellow travelers who are kindred spirits as they adventurously wander the world  seeking growth and fulfillment in awesome ways.

Soccer tournament outside the city's walls one night

Soccer tournament outside the city’s walls one night

Looking through the shutters of the hostel' windows, can you see the man across the way watching us?  It's easy to be a voyer here, taking peeks through open doors at the wonders within plain doors.

Looking through the shutters of the hostel’ windows, can you see the woman across the way watching us? It’s easy to be a voyeur here, taking peeks through open doors at the wonders hidden behind plain doors.

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10 responses to “Time moves quickly – even in Cartagena

  1. Botero! I know his work from Pietra Santa in Tuscany. Looks like you are surrounded by art. I’m so glad you’re there adding your beauty. Love, Cousin Sue

  2. “Unexpected daily pleasure of getting lost.”??? Unexpected? Based on following you all over NYC, I thought that was your MO! Thanks for the visual tour.

    • I laughed when I read your comment – I knew you’d say this. Yes, I do get lost all the time – but really, it is a pleasure (well most of the time unless I’m late) even if it’s not unexpected. That’s how I find new and interesting places that I haven’t seen before – always the optimist… Fortunately I can always find my way back to where I’m staying….

  3. What do you mean slow motion is over? What’s next?
    Sounds like you’ve connected with folks who are traveling – that is wonderful. Look forward to hearing your stories as they unfold. Sounds at this point, mysterious.
    Hugs

    • Marsha, I’m not sure what’s next – exploring my options and where they unfold and trying to stay open. I know I”ve hinted and not shared so many stories – they’ll come – I promise – without being more mysterious which isn’t the intent at all. Maybe I need some slow motion time (Caribbean/Cartagena style) to have time to write them all down. Easy fast. Hugs

  4. Linder, I am so jealous about the mud bath. It looks divine, or if not, at least a real adventure. The pictures are amazing and you really capture the flavor of the city. You also look wonderful—excited, happy, enjoying life! I think your New Year is off to an amazing start. I am waiting for more and living vicariously. Love ya, M

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • Mar – yes, the mud bath was quite the adventure, just wish I could have wallowed there more in the mud!! No chance of sinking in this bath – you would have loved it! You would love the art here – it would complement your collection. And how are you? Love ya…

  5. Linda appreciate you sharing and allow us to accompany you [without the discomfort] neil

    Neil Katz

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