After a couple of super serious posts – It’s time to change the pace, back to the colorful life of Cartagena.. When we aren’t in Sincelejo, I’ve had a considerable amount of free time to enjoy the city.
Iris and I have had some great adventures (particularly gastronomic ones), but I have also spent a lot of time roaming around on my own, trying to make the city my home.
So I thought I would introduce some of the nice people I’ve met on my daily walks around the city. I don’t have photos of everyone, but I thought I would share the ones I do have..
(According to this picture, the rumors are true – at least the part about my looks)
I almost didn’t post this picture of Aristedes Ayala and I – just because I look pretty awful but that would be a disservice to Aristedes, who has been a good friend while I’ve been here. We’ve hung out various afternoons while he’s practiced his English with me. I’ve tried to impart my southern accent during our lessons along with key American and southern idiomatic phrases, but I am not sure how successful I was.
But then again, it seems like my own accent has started to fade away from disuse. (I have tried very hard to speak very clearly, and not to use colloquial phrases when I talk to non-native English speakers over the last few years – and I think I might have been a bit too successful.)
This is Gustavo. He sells aromatic coffees, gum and stuff like that – one of the streets near my home, in a shady spot by the beach – so I see him almost everyday. (I also have a slight gum addiction).
Gustavo is an interesting guy – he’s worked here near the beach in Cartagena for ten years – so he’s seen a lot of interesting and crazy things, particularly on holiday weekends when the beach is packed with tourists.
Prior to that, Gustavo, who is from here in Bolivar, worked in Agriculture in the coffee sector.
Miguel is a nice young kid I met who works for Aguilar as one of the delivery drivers (so he has what I consider to be an ‘essential’ job here in Cartagena). I don’t know if the city of Cartagena issues badges for expedited travel during states of emergency like we had at the hospital in St Thomas, (USVI) but he should probably get one. I can’t even image how life might grind to a halt if alcohol was suddenly absent from all the bars, restaurants and fancy hotels.
Willie is one of the vendors who works on the busy touristy zone in Bocagrande. He sells a lot of the Colombian craft items.
Since I have been working on my first mochilla, we talk about my progress sometimes. (I’ve made a lot of progress on my latest trip to Sincelejo).
Then there’s this guy. I don’t know his name, so I will call him Juan Carlos (which is one of my favorite names). Imagine my surprise to see that he has been here at the military base every day watching over me (which is across the street from my apartment). I never even noticed him until today.
So I asked Juan Rodriguez (at the base) to introduce me – and he did.
I know the military here has a bad reputation (particularly for past misdeeds) but all of my encounters with them have been pleasant, professional and friendly.
I always feel safer when they are around.
Manuel sells jewelry and beads on the beach – but he was happy to make time for a short chat.
I didn’t get the names of some of the other vendors I spent a couple of afternoons chatting with. (I wasn’t shopping – just passing the time).
I joked with this guy about being from Bucaramanga (he’s not, BTW) because I have the female shoe shopping fantasy about Bucaramanga.
I always imagine it would be a shoe paradise for me – lots and lots of shoes in small sizes! (I wear a what is a child’s size shoe in the USA so it’s hard to find shoes without cartoons on them at home.)
Now – that I think would be a great tourism opportunity – “Shoe Shopping Excursions”. I’d be more than happy to sign up for a weekend trip to Bucaramanga to find at least one pair of comfortable shoes that actually fit!
I’ve actually tried to enlist my good friend Camila in a do-it-yourself shopping adventure, but to no avail. (She’s expecting a baby soon which has put a damper on major excursions – but hey – a new baby isn’t so bad..) She’s be the perfect accomplice because she used to own an upscale clothing boutique so she is very knowledgeable about the quality of leather, clothing, shoes and other apparel items. She also has excellent taste. (I have gringo taste which is nothing to brag about – so I accept all help offered.)
I dread shoe shopping at home because it’s an exercise in frustration and is often accompanied by tears..
But maybe I can enlist some of my fantastically fashionable Bogotanas on my next visit..
This nice kid was just hanging out, outside Juan Valdez – but he was happy to let me take his picture..
Now I don’t have a photo of one of my favorite people here in Cartagena. His name is Juan Fernandez and he repairs shoes along one of my exercise routes. He’s about 60 and from a small town outside Cartagena, though he has lived here for about 40 years. I always stop and chat with him for at least a few minutes, and he always greets me by name.
When we both have a little more time, we talk about philosophy, life in Colombia and our shared experiences. I look forward to seeing him – and he always asks about my adventures in Sincelejo.
Now I know I talked about some of the things I don’t like about Colombia in a recent post – but it’s people like Juan Fernandez that make me love Colombia so much. Just nice people – who are happy to talk to a stranger, make her feel at home and pass the time.