I finally finished my job in Bogota, I loved the people and the work but there were definitely elements of the job that left much to be desired, but don’t worry I’ll be bitching about that in an upcoming post. So with my contract cancelled, very little of Colombia visited and two weeks until I flew home to England, I booked a return ticket to Cartagena on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. A city that I’d been itching to visit since I started researching Colombia.
Cartagena is beautiful. I, though, was not beautiful. I was sweaty, sticky, dusty and red in the face. That though is inconsequential and only mentioned as my way of explaining the fact that pictures of Cartagena uploaded to the Internet are going to be purely scenic. No one needs my sweaty red mug in their newsfeed.
Honestly, I was pretty lazy in Cartagena, or lets say that I was pacing myself. After having worked for so long it was really nice just to sit around drinking and talking, wandering around the city and not constantly being in a rush or on a schedule. I dropped my teacher voice and was on my way to losing that feeling of panic in the pit of my stomach that I get when I’ve fucked something up at work but I can’t quite place my finger on what.
I don’t truly believe that I had ever really sweat before I came to Cartagena. It’s crazy hot. Feeling as though your melting crazy hot. Running back over the hot tiles to the sweet protection of your air conned room hot. Not just the heat, but the humidity that hits around midday and leaves you pouring with sweat and feeling completely lifeless until about 3pm. Maybe I’m just a bit of a wimp, but after the first day 12-3pm became my nap time. Day time nap, wake up and go for a walk and before you know it its time for cocktails and its cooled down a little.
My friends in Bogota are cooler than I am. When I pointed out the colourful, noisy, rowdy yellow rumba chivas that pass through the streets every Saturday night toting around drunk students with that limo dancing mentality, I thought they looked awesome. I was quickly corrected that they were in fact tacky.
The beauty of being with other ‘tacky’ backpackers is that I got to ride one of these chivas judgement free. The other excellent thing about going out with other backpackers was that, for the first time in five months, I was not the worst dancer in a club.
I’m not saying that I was the best, Oh no, I’m not saying that by far. But for the first time in a long while. I wasn’t the worst, I wasn’t the shoulder bobbing anti salsa spectacle of embarassment which I usually become as soon as I enter a club with my Colombian friends.
In Cartagena I would 100% recommend El Viajero hostel. I’ve heard reports of staff being unhelpful and disorganised but in my experience they were incredibly helpful and nice. The rooms are cleaned regularly and are comfortable with an insane air-con that gives your room a delightful fridge-like quality.
For 28,000 pesos a night I had a dorm bed, a wonderful (predominantly British) selection of fellow travellers and a pretty acceptable breakfast. My first slice of toast and jam in four months was a religious experience.
I tagged along with a group of backpackers on the Chiva party bus tour, it cost 25,000 pesos per person for a night on the bus, entry to a club and free unlimited rum. The rum was technically unlimited I guess, but it wasn’t exactly free flowing.
It was still a great night out and a good cheesy experience perfect for kick starting my holiday.