Help, We Are Being Held Captive by a Balcony

Parasailing CartagenaWe can barely drag our butts out of the apartment. The balcony is like a siren that calls to us and then keeps us under a spell. The pelicans that love to tease us flying almost within arm’s reach are the only distractions from watching the activity on the beach. Other birds of a different kind also sail by, very curious indeed.

With deep feelings of shamefulness if we were not to explore the city, we thrust ourselves out by knowing a bit of the history. The full name is Cartagena de Indias, a town that sits on the northern coast of Colombia on the Caribbean Coast. There is evidence that this area had an indigenous population as early as 4,000 BC, but it colonization took place in 1533 when the city was officially founded on June 1. As many of the cities in South America and beyond, this city name matches an equal in Spain. Cartagena’s colonial walled city and fortress were Cartagenadesignated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

Colombia - Cartagena January 2016 078

My hat is off to you!

We can barely drag our butts out of the apartment. The balcony is like a siren that calls to us and then keeps us under a spell. The pelicans that love to tease us flying almost within arm’s reach are the only distractions from watching the activity on the beach. Other birds of a different kind also sail by, very curious indeed.

With deep feelings of shamefulness if we were not to explore the city, we thrust ourselves out by knowing a bit of the history. The full name is Cartagena de Indias, a town that sits on the northern coast of Colombia on the Caribbean Coast. There is evidence that this area had an indigenous population as early as 4,000 BC, but it colonization took place in 1533 when the city was officially founded on June 1. As many of the cities in South America and beyond, this city name matches an equal in Spain. Cartagena’s colonial walled city and fortress received the designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

Walking around the old town, what impresses me most is the architecture. Similar to some towns in Peru, there are what must be the Spanish influenced balconies. We found a number of these Cartagena Balconiesin Cadiz, Spain as well. Many buildings use the earth tones for their coloring, gold being predominant.

When getting a taxi, we use the official downtown entrance through the gate in the town wall, Puerta del Reloj (Clock Gate). Immediately beyond is the Plaza de los Coches (Square of the Carriages), which still lives up to its name as dozens of horse-drawn carriages travel through here within minutes of each other.

San Pedro Claver Square is an important part of the city with the church named for San Pedro Claver, a Jesuit priest who ministered to the African slaves. Blocked off for an international music festival set up in front, the church remained closed.

Spending our first full day walking the historic center winding through the many streets, we encountered Juan Garcia Aguilar, a professional tour guide. His charisma drew us in with the Cartagena Walloffer of a city tour. Though he showed us photos of what was included, his excellent English and suave nature redirected our attention. Not having enough cash on hand, we promised we would return the next day ready for the tour with the money to pay for it. Being a good salesperson, he filled out our coupon with the word “to pay” on it. He knew this would be a hook.

Juan directed us to San Valentin’s Restaurant where we had a late lunch. After walking off some calories around the entire wall circling the city, we returned to the balcony that was calling us from a distance.There were pelicans waiting to be admired.

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.