If Bogota is the fridge of Colombia, Cartagena is the oven. This Caribbean beachside town is toasty, vibrant, and full of street art. It is known for the walled city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The colonial architecture and vivacious colors lend an overall joyful air to the city. Many pieces of street art represent the Colombian theme of magical realism, a term meaning something so strange that it is hard to believe it is real.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the author of Love in the Time of Cholera and 100 Years of Solitude, lived in Cartagena. His quotes are seen throughout the city and his face peppers graffiti walls. Our guide, Linda, had various quotes by the famous author for us to read throughout the city.
Castillo San Felipe Fortress is the largest colonial Spanish fortification in South America.
Besides strolling through the inner walled city, we had the incredible opportunity to dine at Inferno, a restaurant inside a women’s prison. The program is focused on rehabilitation and job skills training for prisoners, most of whom were imprisoned for being drug mules. The menu was created alongside a Michelin star chef and has meaningful titles for each section, such as “to toast and celebrate second chances.”
On our last night in Colombia, we shared beer and shots of aguardiente from a random home near our hotel. The owner of the house whipped out plastic chairs for us to use in the middle of the street, with Latin music blaring from a party down the way.