I've been blessed with sun and little rain the 3 days I've been in Cartagena so far. Its the tail end of the rainy season so I wasn't sure what to expect. I've also been feeling great. You can drink the water here (unlike in Guatemala). The fruit is excellent. I think I had the best papaya ever today. Food seems to be pretty pricey though and sometimes a rip off. (I'm sure its not that way if you're a local and can speak spanish fluently). No stomach bugs and very little in the way of any stiffness or soreness in my back.
I had 3 seimei treatments (japanese form of energy healing 10X more powerful than reiki) in Santa Fe before I left, a reading/past life clearing with my excellent clarvoiant friend, Daeryl in Marfa, and an energy work/massage session last Monday, which have all really helped stabilize things, still I couldn't help worrying about the stress of travel. Its not that kind of stress that bothers me though. As my reading helped clarify, the stress that affects me is the kind I put on myself by not being confident and by expecting punishment for not being good enough (some from past life experiences). So, as soon as I got going, some of the old travel me (open, expectant of good things and my own empowerment in the face of difficult situations) seemed to resurface and I started feeling like that person again physically as well. I am meditating everyday, and that does wonders as well. The stress is all in my mind.
I am keeping up with whatever design work that comes in, and its been totally doable. I'm grateful to be able to work and travel. I'm sure the lessened amount of sitting at the computer is helping my system as well. When I was looking today at places to go in the country, I saw an ecohouse that specifically touted its "digital detox" reputation. Love it!
I have to say, if I wasn't booked for Spanish lessons already this week in Cartagena I would leave. I think 3 days is sufficient to get a feel for the place and see the sights, which are mainly the historical center. I also walked up to the san felipe castle for a great panoramic view of the city. If you have the time, going to Playa Blanca is supposed to be a must see 2 day trip from here, but I'm seeing other less crowded beaches around Taganga later so I think I'll avoid the tourists and congestion on that one - something like that would be funner with a travel partner anyway.
Against the advice of my guide book, I walked to the beach at Bocagrande yesterday (my guidebook said it wasn't a great beach). It was correct and it was also full of pushy people, demanding of tourists and not a relaxing place at all. I had to really watch my belongings, which meant I had to carry them out to a rocky outlying and put them there while I took a very quick dip in the carribean, which was like bath water. The worst experience was getting surrounded by two carribean massage ladies who wouldn't leave me alone and insisted they give me a demo despite me walking away and saying no, gracias at least ten times. I was tired and not thinking clearly, so I let them and before I knew it they were requesting 30 dollars. Nothing like that has every happened to me so I guess some part of me was asking for it or something. It was a good lesson in being confident to say no and really mean it and I will practice this with diligence the rest of my time here.
Needless to say, Cartagena is not as charming as it looked in the pictures, at least not my experience so far. The only good place to walk is the city center. Everywhere else, you have to fight traffic. The place I'm staying is very nice and I like all the travelers in it and at least I can walk in 10 min to the city center. I have to wear earplugs every night though, because my room is right on the noisy street. Today, I moved my flight to Cali up so I leave for there this Saturday as soon as my classes are over.
I talked to yet another traveler today who highly recommend Cali's laid back style and less humid temperatures. Even though its in the 80s there too, its apparently less muggy and more spring like. I will fly to get there. It was only $15 to change my flight! and rather than flying back to Cartagena, I will fly directly into Santa Marta and save myself a 4 hour bus ride.
I've been doing a lot of chilling in my room, which has been a good thing. So, last night, I watched a movie recommended to me called "La virgen de los sicarios" or the virgin of the assasins - set in Medellin in 2002 during the drug wars there. I know its changed a lot since then, but watching that movie made me glad I'm not going to Medellin. It was a fantastic movie and it was cool to see the country side and the city through it (and to learn how to pronounce the city's name ;). As Daeryl cautioned me, "don't feel like you have to pack it all in on this trip. Give yourself permission to stay in and watch a movie, and notice when you start to get overwhelmed."