Cartagena: A Wayfarer's Guide

So, it took me a decade to finally get to Colombia. My list of places/things I HAVE to see/do before I'm "pushing up daisies” include (but not limited to): a visit to Machu Picchu, a honeymoon on the Island of Malta, enjoy a cup of coffee in the Sudan, sip milk from a bowl in Mongolia, feast on lamb in Iran, and travel to Cartagena, Colombia. Though I've traveled to a few countries here and there, this was the first trip where it was totally my idea to go. There are many reasons for me wanting to visit this country. Mostly, due to the population of people of African descent.

As a kid growing up, and being raised by my mother, a world history and geography teacher, you could probably imagine the questions and conversations we had together, and still have regarding history and geography. My fascination with the Atlantic Slave Trade and the mixture of European, Native American and African people will and has always grabbed my attention.

However, this will not be a review or some sappy-ass'd over-emotional connection I had with the country. I'm going to keep it simple: document what I saw, and how I got there.

Why this approach? EVERYONE I told of my trip to Colombia asked me, 'Why are you going there? Is it safe? Do you know anyone else who's gone there? Do you watch Narcos? Aren't you scared?". I'm a firm believer in the internet "shrinking the world,” and travel is not only life-changing, but every country and ethnic group, and person can benefit from it. So, to answer those questions, my reply is usually a sarcastic one, because it's hard for me to comprehend such questions, given the abundance of information we all have in regards to travel...and...I have lots of faith in the human spirit to know that connections will be made with people when I get there...regardless of what country I'm in...so no, I'm not afraid. Everywhere, people are people.*

*To learn more about the #EverywherePeopleArePeople movement, check out The Wayfarer Study.

HOW DID I GET THERE?

The Hopper App is great for budgeting and monitoring the best time to purchase airfare. I plugged in the dates when I wanted to travel and Hopper would send me push notifications on when prices went up and down. Long story short, I purchased (2) roundtrip tickets to Colombia for $400. I know people who pay more than that to fly domestically.

I've always wanted a big sister and older brother. I now have both, due to my recent engagement…so all (4) of us packed our bags to drink rum in 95 degree (daily) heat and humidity to get lost in the streets of Cartagena.

WHERE DID WE STAY?

We opted for a vacation rental that we found on HomeAway.com.  Here's a look at the place.

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HOW DID WE GET AROUND THE CITY?

Cartagena is a very small city. Thus, making it fairly easy to navigate. It only took us a day and a half to figure out. With the help of Google Maps, Trip Advisor (sort of), and Here Maps, we were able to get around on foot, and jump in a cab here and there.

WHAT DID WE EAT?

Rule #1: Be prepared to get a bacterial infection from eating EVERYTHING in sight while traveling!

Soooo, the food in Colombia was perfect. This is part of my fascination. Being that there are many descendants of Africans in Colombia, as well as European and Native Americans, I was curious of how familiar the food would be, being from Charleston, SC and my fiance from Guyana (also located in South America). I can say, the seafood was unbelievably fresh and tasty. So tasty that I spent half of a day in close proximity to the bathroom, due to a travel bug (i.e. bacterial infection a.k.a. bubble guts). I usually get this bug once I arrive back Stateside, but on this trip, the "bug" arrived early. Not a problem though...(2) teaspoons from the substance pictured above and I was back on track.

Anyway, here is a little bit of what/where we ate…

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Cartagena, Colombia is a beautiful country with beautiful people. By far, my best experience thus far in my travels. I was finally able to scratch off a goal set 10 years ago. Even more importantly, I was able to share it with my new family.

Thinking about taking a trip to Cartagena!  What would you do on your trip?  Let us know in the comments!

*To learn more about the #EverywherePeopleArePeople movement, check out The Wayfarer Study.  For more of Jamaal's photos & videos from his trip, check out the original article here.