Cartagena

Trip Start Sep 11, 2008
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed

Flag of Colombia  ,
Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lili came over at the right time, and when I told her that I
thought maybe she chicken out, she said, "no way" - I was relieved. She is
proving to be a really cool girl. We took a shuttle to Cartagena, and checked into
the La Playa hotel in Boca Grande, a cab-ride away from the old city. It was
already about 6pm, so we got something to eat, and strolled into the direction
of the old city. .......... We arrived at the thick fortifications, an impressive wall with
canons, surrounding the whole city, once used to protect against pirate
attacks. The city inside was beautiful, and very romantic. Mostly pedestrian
space, there were narrow, winding streets, with lanterns, plazas, churches,
street cafes, carriage rides, restaurants, shops, bars, statues, art, music,
dancers, and artisans. The whole atmosphere was very romantic, and calming.
Away from traffic and people enjoying strolls in the perfect temperature. We
strolled, sat in a park, watched a puppet show, bought some ice cream, and took
some really cool pics, playing with light and shadow. Now that I think about it
- first, we took pictures based on light, then we took pictures based on
shadows. Really neither can exist without the other, its really just how we
look at it, isn't it? Oh, I almost forgot, Cartagena is the city where part of
the movie "Romancing the Stone" was filmed - I loved that movie! ;-) So does
Will's mom, he told me - it's a great movie. We ended up in a large popular
plaza, and got some snacks at an outdoor café. We were sitting there for a
while, and I noticed a young woman, dressed up, sitting alone at a table in
front of us. Looking sad, she was nipping on an half-empty/full glass of wine.
I told Lili that we should invite her, just to be nice. She thought she was a
hooker, or something, and didn't wan to. I would have, but I wasn't sure I
could express my intentions clearly in Spanish, and I thought Lili would be
less threatening too. I didn't think Lili would do it... but she did! The lady
declined, oh well, at least we asked. But wait, she gathers her courage and
sits down with us. She is young,
pretty, thin, but bags underneath her eyes, hidden partly with her make-up,
could be a sign for a hard life. She starts talking about how she hates black guys.... when she notices that this topic doesn't fly with us, she quickly
starts talking about something else. She works at a bar, has a boyfriend here,
in Italy, where she also lives. He family is form Barranquilla, but she messed
up a place in Bogota with Barranquilla, so Lili is suspicious. She is not
awaiting anyone, just taking some time off, reflecting on life, thinking about
the future, and watching people. Her eyes are black, shallow, and she doesn't
sound very believable. She does not seem happy, tired, angry - but every once
in a while a laugh comes out, which is very nice. Then back to her other
demeanor. I also now think that she is a hooker, but I keep asking in a
round-about way, trying to get her to admit it - not sure why? Lili is a good
sport - why does she put up with my ridiculous ideas? Lol - bonus points!!!!
Conversation is starting to get a bit more difficult, and she asks me, "and
what now?" Soon after, we get the bill, and bid her farewell. I hope that she
had a good time with us, maybe something different from her usual nights. Lili
tells me that Paula, that the name she gave us, actually told her that she was
an Escort Service. I totally missed that part - but now we knew. Lol - I can't
believe I am so naïve! We head back soon after, we were both a bit tired. In the morning I took a shower and received
an electric shock at 110 Volt - because the shower used a cheap electric
heating device on the shower faucet. Then we went to the beach - where we were
coaxed into getting foot/leg massages, mussles, shrimp cocktail, papaya, and
the most awesome candy - fried coconut with panela!!! Lili doesn't know how to
swim, so I tried to teach her. We eventually check out of the hotel, and I
wanted to go see the place where they brought the slaves after their voyage
across the Atlantic - to be sold to plantations. We got there, and I immediately
regretted it. The 60, or so, rooms/cells, were now converted into souvenir
shops, but I could not enter any of them. I was starting to feel sick, how
could humans have been so cruel to other humans? I imagined what it must have
been like... captured, smelly, white skinned men, in chains, puke, shit, urine
all over, laying in sweating heat, in darkness, for months, neighbors dying,
moaning, then finally arriving on land, being put into cells, packed with
strangers, away from family, friends, fear of the unknown, what will happen
now? How can it get even worse? I want to kill myself? I am going crazy? More
white men, looking at my teeth, my ass, my muscles, like I am an animal in the
market. Strange music outside, the smell of food, I am starving - dying of
fear. Lili and I left quickly and went to catch the Shuttle back - it was a really nice trip!
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