It’s been a long and lovely day. Jordan and I awoke to a reality shattering 2:45 am wake-up call. For someone who usually goes to bed around 2:00 am, 2:45 am is one of the worst times to get up and start your day. 45 minutes is a solid nap but a wicked sleep.
Ah, shit… This old lady is throwing up outside her room. She’s in rough shape, for one reason or another. I’ve only been here for half a day but I already know that Colombia can do that to you. This is a country that likes to party. Also, you can’t drink the water. So, there’s that.
Anyways, Jordan and I laughed our added off to Miami and then slept our way to Cartagena. As the plane descended over the picturesque landscape and stunningly blue water, I felt a concoction of excitement, nerves, and wonder. The woman next to me told me about how her great-grandfather ran for president of Ecuador but was assassinated because he slept with the opponents wife, which I thought was hilarious. What a way to die.
Outside of the city you could see a lot of open space and not a lot of infrastructure. Inside the city, the houses are inches away from each other, and backyards don’t exist. The buildings are old and in places you wouldn’t expect, like 40 feet away from where the plane landed, separated only by a shoddy fence.
We got through customs with relative ease and then entered the intimidating world of Colombian taxis. A couple of the drivers were really aggressive about getting into their cars so I walked past them and chose an older man who seemed more trustworthy. He turned out to be very nice and I was able to hood a conversation in Spanish for the whole ride, which wasn’t easy because he was a talker.
The streets here are wild. Mototaxis weave through traffic like they’re inviting death and taxi drivers build an audio collage of honking any time they have to wait more than two seconds for anything. We had no phone service or data so we just had to trust the driver was taking us to the right place.
We arrived safely and walked into the hostel with a group of beautiful women, and the hot streak only continued. Boy did I pick the right place. I’ve already met wonderful women from Holland, Belgium, England, Ecuador, and New Jersey.
Once we got checked into the hostel, we realized we needed SIM cards, but in the process we also realized we didn’t know what the hell we were doing. So, instead of wandering the streets of Colombia aimlessly, we decided to sit in the pool and settle in.
There, we met a couple of wild dudes from the United States, a woman from Canada, a woman from Belgium, two young men from England, and a woman from Wales. We shared stories and laughed until our hands and feet became pruned. I was impressed with the bravery and courage amongst the group, many of whom are traveling by themselves.
We agreed to go to dinner together, and walked through the Colombian streets to a beautiful restaurant. Everyone needs to walk through downtown Cartagena at night once in their life because good lord is it chaos.
There’s women dressed in beautiful, bright colors with baskets of fruit on their head. There are guys who come up to you and just start rapping. Men selling candies all over the place. More prostitutes than you can imagine, horses and carriages, someone probably trying to sell you drugs, and a bunch of happy Colombians drinking and partying the night away. All on a Sunday night.
The exchange rate here is phenomenal so I balled out on an expensive dinner for $14. 8 of us went out together and shared plates of ceviche, meat and cheese, fresh fish, chicken, and more. There was an amazing DJ at the restaurant and the overall vibe was absolutely magical. I couldn’t believe I was sharing such incredible memories with my longtime friend and six new ones.
Now I lie in a hammock as the night starts to turn quiet… for now.