I can’t believe I’ve finally arrived in Cartagena. After months and months of planning and waiting my dream has come true. My initial impressions:
It’s hot here!
And not just “oh, it’s a nice day” hot. It’s really balmy, like “oh, ok my underwear, bra, shirt and shorts are soaked through with sweat” hot. Locals keep telling me, “Hace calor” but I think they are just feeling sorry for me because I look like a drowned rat. I am thinking of stripping down naked to get cool, and I check out the locals to see what they’re wearing. Ya know what? They wear jeans and slacks and sneakers and suits and high heels (for the women). I don’t get it, but I might try wearing my jeans tomorrow.
The People Very Kind
When I first arrive in a new city I like to just walk around for a day or two. I don’t like to do tours or museums or attractions right away. In fact, if I’m only in a city for a few days I may only walk around and skip the other stuff. I like to walk and then stop and sit and watch. I like to see what people are doing, what they’re wearing, how they interact. I just like to sit in a park and observe. I like to watch the kids running around, old men playing cards, teenagers cuddling, friends giggling. The one thing that hasn’t invaded this place is the constant smart phone use. People actually still talk to each other here. In fact, I’m usually the only one with one, so I don’t take it out unless I’m taking a photo.
As soon as I sit here someone starts a conversation with me. I guess I stand out quite a bit, and my Puerto
Rican heritage does not let me pass for Latina. Typically the conversation is one-sided as my Spanish still sucks, but I can usually get through where I’m from and why I’m here. My goal is to eventually have a full conversation.
It’s Very Safe Here
I was alittle worried at first. When you visit a new city and just walk around alone you have no idea what to expect. My host family and everyone I have met here have reassured me that this is a very safe area and walking alone is not a problem, even at night. I know this is more than I can say for some areas of San Francisco. I still pay attention, and I don’t let my guard down completely but I am not worried here. This city is built around tourism and they cannot afford to have their visitors not have a good time or not return.
Verdict after 24 hours: I love it here. I love that I am here for at least six weeks so I don’t feel pressure to see everything quickly. If I want to take a nap in the afternoon for a hour I can (and do!). If I want to sit at a cafe and have a beer, I can. Eventually I hope to do a city bus tour, visit the museum and the beaches, but for now I think I’m going to finish this beer and enjoy the view.