This is my final post in my Colombian Chronicles Series!
*Queue the violins*
I arrived in Cartagena on a Sunday morning and although I had been warned about how hot the city was, I was met with showers of rain. As was customary when I arrived in a new city, I wanted to waltz around and familiarise myself with my new surroundings. Remember Joana from Cali and Medellín? Well, she was at a hostel down the road and after the rain died down a little, I went to meet her.
I can’t express how lovely it is to be in a strange land but see familiar faces.
We toured the walled city, taking a plethora of pictures (mainly of doors) and catching up on a few missed days. In the evening, we went for dinner at a place recommended on Trip Advisor’s ‘cheap eats.’ I was at the end of my travels; I had pittance left and had to be incredibly selective about where I ate. Let’s just say I was not left wanting.
Doors, doors and more doors!
Beautiful balconies.Palenques from the back (I didn’t want to pay for pics so had to sneak these…)Most of the pictures above were taken when I was exploring solo or with roomies, however, I did manage to sneak in a free tour where I learned about the African Slaves who built some of Cartagena.I was sad to hear that the very city walls I had been walking around as a spectator were what my own ancestors built with their bare hands under dire conditions. Sad but not surprised.I also learned about how the doors signified the social status of those living behind them. Lion and lizard doorknobs along with spikes indicated people high up in the military ranks lived there.And how all the Miss Colombias look European and don’t reflect the diverse cultures present in the country.And that, apparently, if you rub this woman’s breasts you’ll get good luck for years to come.
I also acquainted myself with authentic Colombian cuisine. As usual, the best food (and the cheapest) was found in the local joints. I asked one of the staff at the hostel about this place and judging by the face she made when describing their menu del dia, I knew I was in for a treat.And they didn’t disappoint! Chips, coconut rice and fried tilapia. Mmmm…I had the best intentions to read Chinua’s Man of the People but the telenovela they were playing was too lit to resist.
My most memorable day in Cartagena, however, was when I visited the Volcan Del Totumo. There were many places in and outside the walled city where I was able to book a space on the tour and it cost 60k COP altogether (about £15). It consisted of being picked up from my hostel, driven to a volcano and getting massaged by burly men in the volcanic mud. Probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – I just had to do it!In addition to the 60k COP paid, there was a man who offered to take pictures for the duration of the time in the Volcano’s mouth… for an additional 5k COP. I mean, what’s the point in having the experience without the photographic evidence for social media later?I wanted to lie down like the people next to me…But I wasn’t getting my braids muddy for anyone #BlackGirlProblems.
Better believe I still got that mud facial though!
As you can see, the photography was well worth it. A whole photoshoot!
We were then taken to the river where local women washed the mud off our bodies… for an additional 5k COP. After, we were taken to the beach where we indulged in the meal below (included in the price). A repeat of my meal from the previous day but equally as tasty.
All clean and belly full!
This experience was my last major one in Colombia, and what an amazing end to an incredible country it was. The rest of my days were spent eating roadside arepas with Sam and Esteban or partying with Joana. I have to say, the nightlife in Cartagena was top notch, with something for everyone. Rooftop bars, clubs, salsa spots, street parties, you name it. A nice way to round off my holiday.
By the end of my week in Cartagena (which, admittedly, was too long – three days would have been enough) I was ready to go home, see family and friends and sleep in my own bed!So long Colombia! I will definitely be back.
On Colombia – I’d definitely 100% recommend visiting the country. One of the best places I’ve travelled to so far. Warm people, rich culture, loads to do, affordable and in my experience, safe.
On solo travel – one of the greatest decisions of my life. I was able to do the things that I like doing and in doing so, I made some friends for life. I stepped out on my own, got used to my own company and I am much better for it. Thanks to everyone who made my experience what it was!
- If you’ve travelled to Colombia/ South America before, where was your favourite place to visit and why?
- Where would you recommend I go next?
- Have you travelled solo before? What was your experience like?
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my Colombian Chronicles Series as much as I have enjoyed writing them! Thanks so much! xx