Thursday, June 20, 2013

Be Careful ...


My photo with the words of someone else.

I saw this on a marquee for a dance studio in Wanaque as we were on our way to the airport last week. I thought it very apropos. 

Be careful …

We heard that over and over again when we told people we were going to Cartagena, Colombia. Some people reminded me of the movie Romancing the Stone which I guess was supposedly shot there. I need to watch it again since I don't remember that at all. Friends said be careful. My neighbor said be careful. The beautiful Colombian woman that was sitting next to me at the gate in Miama awaiting clearance from the thunderstorms said be careful after she had asked where we were going. I was definitely starting to get a bit paranoid. But, I reminded myself, none of those people except for the Colombian woman had actually ever been there before. They were going on what they assumed it was like.

It didn't help much either when I came downstairs on that first day and Paulina (the wife that led our morning tour) took one look at my "fancy" camera around my neck and suggested that I take something to keep the camera in and only take it out while actually taking photos. My heart sunk. Was it really that dangerous to go out? After spending four hours walking around the Centro on our little tour I was feeling much more comfortable. I didn't see anything that caused me to be fearful. Watchful, yes. Fearful, no. 

There were plenty of hawkers selling cheap goods and some of them didn't take no for an answer. Some needed to be told multiple times but I never felt threatened. There were always plenty of other people around on the streets.

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Plaza Santo Domingo

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The famous Botero sculpture in the Plaza Santo Domingo "La Gordita"

By Friday I was feeling confident enough to go out on my own. Armed with my camera bag, map, and kleenex for mopping the sweat from my brow I headed out to explore like a bold conquistador. I learned my way around the narrow streets and visited an interesting museum showcasing gold jewelry from as long ago as 500 b.c. that I would later take Rick to. The museum is also why I came back with one of the most gorgeous pieces of jewelry I have ever owned. (More on that later if you are interested. Do you want to see??)

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The clock tower on the city walls.

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Looking through the wall.

 We stayed within the old walls of the city and didn't venture out into "modern" Cartagena except to visit the fort San Felipe de Barajas. Things are decidedly rougher outside the walls and less clean. With so much beauty to be seen in old Centro we saw no real reason to venture out.

Our weather was wonderful. The most rain we had was on the day we arrived. Other than that we had a few sprinkles here and there and a few rumbles of thunder. My fears of tropical downpours like we had witnessed in Panama never materialized.

The food was superb, the people welcoming even though English was not widely spoken. I learned a few new words and realized that I can do pretty well reading a menu in Spanish. The wine was also good since Colombia taps into the wines from Chile and Argentina. We mostly ate fish—lots of camarón (shrimp) and ceviche. And, here is my pulpo (octopus). I know it looks daunting but it tasted like firm chicken. Not chewy at all and grilled to perfection. Delicioso!


It was a great trip and I'm so very glad that I went. Life truly does begin at the edge of your comfort zone. So next time you're going to try the octopus, right?

Stay tuned, more to come on our trip!


The edge of your comfort zone—that is so true! That’s why I love traveling. It pushes us in ways we may not expect, and 99 times out of 100 we cope just fine and our world opens up wider than before. Cartagena looks so colorful and YES, I want to see your jewelry! As for the advice about not carrying the fancy camera in the open, even in London I sometimes worry about that!

Steve, yes, it’s good to be pushed. The best memories also come of things you did that you would normally not do, yes? I had another request to see my jewelry so I guess I’ll have to have a photo shoot with it and see if I can do it justice. smile And you’re right—in any big city you still have to be vigilant and careful.

More color to come, I promise!

I’m all for getting out of my comfort zone, but I’ll skip the octopus, thankyouverymuch!

Bring on the jewelry! (you didn’t tell me about this!) Let us see, please.

Yes, on the jewelry also.  And, of course, you know I agree with your big sis about the octopus.

Bigsis, if I blindfolded you and fed you the octopus you wouldn’t have any idea what you were eating. I’m sure you’d say “chicken!” But I understand ...

C, of course you would agree since you are vegetarian! smile

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