If Angela’s South American dream was to visit Machu Picchu then Cartagena was mine. I couldn’t wait to walk it’s walls and wander the borganzilla framed streets and not only met my expectations, it totally smashed them.
We stayed in the slightly grubbier end, just outside the walls of the old city and was bursting with colour and life. Our hostel, Mamallena, was to become our favourite in all of South America, not because it was particularly fancy, but because we met an array of brilliant people, the staff were lovely, the air conditioning was cold and the breakfast was free.
The only downside was the vicious and irritating hostel parrot and the intense humid heat. This was a whole other world of hot. Just a slow walk would require at least two stops in air conditioned shops, pretending to be very interested in their wares, whilst desperately trying to cool down.
We ended up staying in Cartagena three times in total. Most of our days were taken up with: wandering the narrow streets; taking pictures of flowers bursting out of crumbling buildings; sitting in the nearby plaza as the day cooled slightly into evening; talking long into the night with Colombians and other travellers; dancing outside the bar next to our hostel; drinking strong mojitos; eating empanadas with assorted sauces; and pootling around the small but stunning city feeling very at home.
If it wasn’t for the oppressive humid heat, I would say that this was my favourite place in Colombia and perhaps even South America, nay, the world!