The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.
— G.K. Chesterton

After I booked my flight to Cartagena, I told my mom "Hey. I am going to Colombia in May." She replied, "Why the hell are you telling me you are going to the mall?" For those of you not from Baltimore, we have a suburb called Columbia that I frequent often to go to the mall.  LOL!

I booked the trip for one of my favorite travel buddies, Ashlee from Will Drink for Travel. We had no concrete plans or expectations; in fact both of us even considered not going even as we were driving to the airport. I know, total first world problems! LMAO! However, I am so glad that we went! When the time came for our departure, I did not want to leave!

This week's five spot is dedicated to my trip to Cartagena! 

  1. The street food was PHENOMENAL!  No really, it was! We took a Food and Culture Tour with Cartagena Connections. Our tour guide Kristy took us around the Walled City and let us try street food from local vendors. The stand outs to me were the arepas, chicharones, and the matrimonial (pics below). The Chicharones were so good we took a cab back to that corner to get more!
  2. Before you go, brush up on your Spanish! WHEW! It had been a long time since I have gone someplace where the people did not speak English. Generally when I travel to a country, I try to learn a few key phrases, but that was not enough in Cartagena.
  3. Look up Alex Rocha! We received a tip to connect with him for tours. That was a great recommendation. He gave us a tour of the "real" Cartagena.  One of the highlights was visiting Alex's Youth Center. We were able to interact with some of the neighborhood kids and help them practice their English. We also tried to practice our Spanish! They spoke better English than we did Spanish though. LOL! 
  4. Early in our trip we received a pretty bad tip for nightlife. Womp! However, we were able to take in the nightlife scene quite a bit! The love for Rihanna was clear and y'all know that is my girl! I can even count the number of times we heard Work! However, the true star is Champeta! It is a genre of music that mixed the beats of African drums with the fast pace of salsa music. 
  5. Don't listen to the staff of your hotel. We were told multiple times to avoid certain areas because of the "afro" or black people who frequented the area. One time we were left bewildered like "well we are black too." One of the biggest things I learned from the trip was that the city was 70% black. It was an eye opening experience, no matter where you are in the world, black skin carries the same negative connotations. Sad! 

So if you are looking for a vibrant warm climate, I wholeheartedly recommend visiting Cartagena! Enjoy a few pictures from the trip below!

AB

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