Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cartagena - Arrival day

All the way on the plane over I sat next to some complaining Americans, disgruntled they had to go to Cartagena for their brother's wedding. They had the window seat and kept the blinds shut the whole time. I put my headset on listening to Spanish to avoid listening to their moping about dirt, lack of shopping and inability to go out to bars at night for fear of danger (they had never been before, but that's what they had their minds made up about).

Stepping out of the airplane on the tarmac felt refreshing. I had been expecting thunder and lightening, but the sun was out and the tiny, partially out door airport with wooden slatted arrival gates and colorful flowers reminded me of Hawaii's airport just a bit.

I was met not too long after arriving by someone from the spanish school I'll be studying at. Yes, it was an overpriced ride, but it was probably the safest way to get from the airport to where I'm staying without worry during this crazy independence day festival going on this week. The streets are a party! Its the tail end of the rainy season, so puddles and water had not drained from the last downpour. 88 degrees and pretty humid, partially sunny.We passed through the poor dirty areas full of stray dogs, stray people and large afro-carribian populations. On one side of the wall, the wealth, on the other the poor. We passed over a bridge over a bay with fancy sailboats, coming into nicer territory.

Isabel, my airbnb host was right there to meet me when we get to her house (about a 10-15 min walk from city center). My room has a hammock as well as a comfy bed with, thankfully, a mosquito net. There are also two adorable kittens here. There are also 5 other travelers staying here representing the UK, Holland, and Germany. Isabel rents out 5 rooms at any given time. She's in her 30's has a daughter, and is from Colombia, but she has lived the last 14 years in Barcelona, Spain, recently returning. We reminisce about how Barcelona is our favorite city in the world and how we wish the economy and ability to find work there was better.

I take some time off to catch up on design work and have a nap.

The UK couple said they are happy to come get me when they go out at night. I'm happy about this. Normally its safe to go out in the streets, Isabel says, but its kinda crazy during carnival and this is the only time the city is like this. So later on, I venture out into the city party with the UK couple and the German guy. The dutch guy goes out on his own, but we bump into him several times during the evening. We laugh a lot talking about languages and cultures, silly phrases and words like how zucchini is corget in England, for instance. My first impression of Cartagena is of a very young, carefree place. Also a place you have to watch yourself. The driving is nutty, not as bad as Guatemala by any means though. There are people in the streets spraying people with a sugary, sweet smelling foam. The foam melts off like snowflakes not causing any harm.

At the end of the evening, the German guy's back pack gets stolen from the bench we were sitting at when he went out for a smoke - but sorry, you just can't leave a backpack at your seat like that and not be surprised if someone takes it. Luckily nothing valuable was in it. It was a good reminder for the rest of us.

We took a cab back, only $1 each. I'm happy to be back and going to bed. The streets are quieting down now at 2am, but still traffic. I'm looking forward to seeing the city during the day and want to take a 45 min boat to Playa Blanca on Isla Rosario for a few nights next weekend after seeing a tour sign for it and hearing the UK couple saying you can sleep on hammocks out there and that its beautiful white sand and peaceful at night.

One night in Miami (actually Dania Beach outside of)

On my way to Miami, and now that I'm on my way, it feels right. Putting everything in the hands of the universe, as always when traveling. Wish I could remember to do that more in my everyday life. That's why traveling is so good for me. Faith in the unknown. Confidence = openness. Positive. Relaxed. Inspired. On this trip, I am interested in art, nature, beauty, calm, culture. Avoid chaos my clairvoyant said on Saturday. Why Colombia then? Isn't it full of chaos? We'll find out.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride, the flight attendant invites.

Oh, flying out of Santa Fe is pretty awesome. Layover in Dallas, also a good choice. Even though its freezing cold today (32 degrees!), I don't have to worry about a snow storm causing delays.


I'm in Dania Beach/Hollywood Beach, Florida. 83 degrees and balmy. I arrived at FLL airport at 2pm, took a 10 min cab to my airbnb, breifly met my host, Jeff, left my stuff and walked to the beach. Jeff said it was a mile or so. But he's a cyclist, so it actually took me a good hour to walk there at my fast pace. I'm sitting on the beach soaking up the last of the sun and appreciating the exercise to arrive here.

Back at my airbnb location. I chat with my host and can tell he's a good and interesting person. He and his wife moved here after 8 years in Las Vegas, Nevada. He bike tours all over the US. His wife works in airport security and makes enough for both of them. Originally from Boston, he kind of sound like a British person with an American accent because of all the places he's lived.

My friend Sarah from my College of the Atlantic days lives an hour away from Miami now and ends up meeting me with her boyfriend. We all have dinner together at a delicious vegan restaurant with nut cheese and gluten free cupcakes. Did I mention they also serve 3 flavors of kombucha on tap? Sarah and I order the guava. I'm happy. Its so nice to reconnect with Sarah. I love when things like this work out. Thats one benefit of posting where you are traveling on facebook.

Next morning, my hosts kindly make me coffee and a scrambled egg and offer to give me a ride to the airport! Lucky girl! We talk about traveling and the whys of Colombia. Well, I explain, every time I read about Cartagena in my research of South American cities I felt drawn to it. When I was traveling around Guatemala 4 years ago, quite a few people talked about how Colombia was one of their faves and I've had the bug to go since. Plus it was one of the most affordable and convenient places I could go in South America. 2.5 hour flight from Miami. And I absolutely love hidden treasures and the less traveled road. Additionally, I wanted to go somewhere Spanish speaking and to be near the ocean. I'm just anxious to get there now and find out.