Old City Cartagena Reviews
Colors and Influence of Cultures....? Jun 01, 2015
Today’s North American culture seems to have an obsession with the top 20, or the 10 best, or the trendy 25. Once we read the trends, we can thus rush to accumulate the ultimate experience. However, ooops....the list changes.
Marketing creates lists and then creates needs to fill. We just MUST have the ultimate meal or the ultimate party or the ultimate, trendy location to visit.
I just returned from ten very satisfying days in Cartagena, Colombia and stayed in the Old City, a UNESCO designated, world heritage area. I loved this area with its multiple parks, friendly people, buskers, universities, beautifully decorated homes, many flowers and plants, young people and color, after color, like a painter’s canvas. After one day, I realized that getting lost was actually fun...so I shed my desire for organization and just explored at leisure. My ten days went by in a flash and I was left wanting more time and exposure.
I saw tourists, but they were mostly from Europe and South America. The street sellers in the old city were extremely polite and not pushy in the least. They were most interested in talking about their city and country. I found this extremely refreshing.
I heard virtually no English until I spent my last night in a Bocogrande, high rise hotel, in the beach sector. English in this area was common. Here, the venders are like fleas and aggressive. Every tourist was a mark. Draw your own conclusions. To me it said much about how North Americans are perceived.
Upon my return to Canada, I spent time reading about Cartagena and noticed in an influential New York paper, that it was now in the top 25 places to visit in 2015. Of course, I read on, to find the defining reasons, for this trendy determination. It seems that the writer was taken with the brightly colored buildings in the old city and attributed the use of color to the African influence. This African influence had a major influence not only on the color of the buildings but on the food and the very culture of the city. As a result, this was now one of the trendy places to visit, in 2015.
I wonder what would happen if we were to send this writer to Curacao where all the buildings are also painted in bright, joyful colors, by the Dutch.
Old Cartagena is indeed that...old. It became a melting pot for trade and commerce and was also a hub for slavery. How much influence slavery made on its character is subject to interpretation by historians and not travel writers. Somehow, I suspect that to attribute building colors to Africans is a tad off the mark.
However, without a doubt, it is a delightful, very interesting, mellow, vibrant, old and very colorful city. There is a day time and a night time pulse in Cartagena that makes it a pleasure to experience.
Forget the hot days, the muggy and humid atmosphere. This is a city that comes alive at night when the night air is cooler. This is a city where restaurants are fusions of cultures. This is a city that is worth visiting because it is alive. If that is trendy, then so be it.
Should we visit Cartagena because it is trendy.No, we should visit Cartagena because it is indeed a delight to experience. Am I biased? Yes I am!
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