Escaping the pernicious dust and constant hammering that characterizes the hostel at the moment, Miles and I hopped a plane to the coast, touching down in Cartagena. This Caribbean town, the setting of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, looks as though it could also have been the setting of Pirates of Penzance. In fact, the wall that surrounds the city was built to keep out pirates such as Sir Frances Drake who had a nasty habit of pillaging the area. Unfortunately for residents, the wall took 200 years to build and by the time construction was completed, pirates were no longer a threat.
We arrived after dark and discovered that the streets were romantically lit and perfect for wandering in the sultry heat that lingered even after sunset. Although beautiful, Cartagena is quite touristy with lots of hawkers and not an overwhelming amount to do. We spent only one day there seeing the old city and searching out Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s house. In the evening, we headed over to the fancier Boca Grande strip for massages, a beautiful sunset, and delicious fish dinner. As Miles says, you can’t go to the coast without seeing Cartagena. Check.