I slipped a pair of loose cotton shorts and walked out of my hotel room next to the lobby to night. Within a few steps I was in the middle of a folk dance ensemble. The white embroidered clothes wrapped around women's male male partners, while they were mildly ventilated in the humid, coastal air.
This is typical of Colombia, a country that is serious about dancing and beauty competitions. Combine this with the natural, explosive rhythms of the Afro-Colombians who are heavily digested in the coastal areas and have a continuous street party.
Although the Spanish conquerors have long since departed, the Colombians continue to emit a flamenco-like atmosphere.
Pedro de Heredia was founded in 1533 as a transport route for Cartagena, as well as an emerald and gold storage site, later shipped to Spain.
This picturesque town on the Caribbean coast was the main entrance port for African slaves in America; now UNESCO World Heritage Site, Colombia's favorite tourist destination.
Cartagena has been attacked many times during history. The British and the French grabbed the city in search of the collected treasures. The pirates searched for the hidden riches in the waters.
One of the most prominent attacks was Sir Francis Drake, who in 1586 came with the cover of darkness with a large group of men. They forced most of the city to sunlight to escape. Before they left eight months, they tortured homes, businesses, and imposed large sums on local government officials and stalled valuable jewels. The final major attack occurred in 1741 when the British commander, Edward Vernon, and George Washington's half brother arrived with more than 25,000 troops and a 186 combat group. Although the number of Spaniards and African slaves was quotient, they denied the attack and carried out a counterattack that made Commander Vernon withdraw his troops. Unfortunately, before he lost nearly half of his men and most of his battleships.
Today is the city of Cartagena, which still holds much of it in the old Spanish light. Scattered over older barrios, balanced colonial buildings painted in many colors.
Cartagena's old, middle part is reinforced by 14 miles of stone wall and other fortifications. In many places, it is still believed that the material used for these stones is confused with the blood of African slaves. Whether this is true or not, many slave died here while helping the city against the pirates.
The castle of San Felipe de Barajas was built between 1536 and 1657. The same fortress that resisted the attack of Commander Vernon and his team is still held through Cartagena. It's a look, and it's obvious why it was impossible to penetrate.
Modern day Cartagena is routinely captured by the continuous flow of Colombian and foreign tourists. They mostly focus on the old town, where narrow cobblestone streets look for historic landmarks.
When you enter the Plaza de los Coches, you will meet a huge statue of Pedro de Heredia, the city's famous clock, who founded the city in 1533. Only on the left side of the statue, pastel-colored colonial buildings fill the Plaza.
During the day, women put candy on the sidewalk, selling traditional sweets. People relax on the benches and enjoy traditional music and dance, street comedy and even occasional thermos that come from a homeless preacher.
At dusk, riding wagons lined up to be ready to start a lamp-light trip in the heart of downtown. You have the opportunity to close your eyes and return in time as the rides of horsemen resonate on narrow, cobbled streets.
At the end of the plaza (about 100 feet) open space with a Christopher Columbus monument. It represents the dark side of the Plaza de la Aduana (Customs Plaza) and Cartagena's past.
In 1564, Cartagena became a gateway to the American continent with many African slaves. Those who survived the treacherous flight came out of the ships and then lined up in the Customs Plaza, looked around, and the auctioneers were auctioned to the highest bidders.
Located just behind the Plaza de la Aduana is Plaza San Pedro Claver. St. Peter called Claver, who was called a hotly dishonest slave of slaves, this small square leads a cathedral bearing his name.
Father Claver showed compassion for the slaves who had come in. He offered the most when he was laid down and immediately blessed dying children and patients. He spent many years in medical care for injured and bad slaves and baptized hundreds of thousands of lives.
Five minutes walk outside the walled city and stand in front of San Felipe Castle. It is worth short climbing the steep hill to reach the doors. Discover the massive buildings of the mansion, touch the original cannons, and navigate through the portals. You can also look through the walls and view the panorama of the city.
About 20 nautical miles from Cartagena to the Rosario Islands. This archipelago consists of 27 ecologically diverse islands selected by the Colombian Government as a national park. If you're looking for a perfect place to relax, here's it. Good snorkeling, scuba diving, windsurfing, kayaking and hiking are available. Outdoor aquarium and dolphin shows have always been a hit for the families of travelers.
Several ships start early in the morning from the downtown harbor, and approx. In 45 minutes, they climb the calm waters to the islands. The last boats return to Cartagena at four o'clock. So you can pack a lunch, a day out, or spend a few quiet nights on the islands.
Through most of the barrios in the city, you often feel that you are in a small village. During the day, sellers are walking around the area, all of which has risen papaya and fresh fish, pots and pots and lottery tickets.
Everywhere in the city you can find pickshift soccer fields where many young boys play football in the burning day (and sometimes in monsoon rain) as the specialists, hoping to become the next Carlos Valderrama or Ronaldinho.
After watching the dance performances, I pulled some backs and stumbled upon some of the popes who were drinking cold drinks near an open pit. The grilled chicken filled the night air. The menu seemed appetizing.
Cartagena cuisine is the original version of the Caribbean and Creole, although it offers a wide range of foods and drinks. Outdoor dining is usually the sound of Vallenato, Reggaeton, Champeta or Salsa, which usually comes from high speakers, but occasionally they live.
Overall, Colombia is an ideal trip to South America for first travelers; be backpackers, sailors or even family outings.
Large villages of villages, picturesque beaches, informal street parties Cartagena is a place to remember.
If you want to stay:
If you're about budgeting for your shoe size, the hotel accommodation in Cartagena can cost up to $ 5-10 per night in Getsemaníi area. However, expect a simple bed, a fan, a shared bathroom and a shower for the price. Add another $ 15 and find comfortable rooms in this historic part of town, the oldest neighborhood in Cartagena.
Most of the Bocagrande area is in Cartagena. Here you will find many hotels on the beach. From the small family hotels to the 5-star all-inclusive.
If you want to pamper yourself, try Charleston Hotel. It offers not only 5-star facilities, but is also hidden in the city's old walls and is close to many tourist attractions in the old town.
Charleston has a breathtaking rooftop pool and restaurant. Here you will get a bird-eye view of the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Cartagena and the beautiful old town.
Copa Airlines direct flights depart from Miami and Panama City, Panama.
AirMadrid's direct flights to Madrid and Barcelona, Spain.
US tourists traveling to Colombia must have a valid US passport but no visa. It stays for 90 days. You can extend this to the Immigration Office (DAS) for another 90 days.