Living la vida local

Spellbound on arrival in Cartagena, I insisted on having a photo with the Amazonian “statue” man. A well seasoned traveller now, I knew of course he wasn’t an actual statue but a real person. However his armour made me approach him cautiously.

I smiled sweetly for the camera. There was a cracking noise, and something in my periphery lunged at me. I screamed.

A crowd gathered and were laughing. He leaned closer and closer in towards me. His movements were as seamless and stealthy as a snake. I was frozen, confused and mesmerised by this Amazonian creature.

Next thing the crowd was whistling, and I was being kissed on the check while blushing profusely. Damn statues, got me again.

This little incident aside, my trip to Cartagena was refreshingly well off the Gringo trail. Travelling with my Kiwi-gone-Colombian friend and her Colombian boyfriend gave me insights into the life of the newly established, and ever growing Colombian middle class.

We stayed in a beachside apartment complex that was virtually brand new and huge – complete with pools, a jacuzzi and gym (my aspiration to use it were quickly forgotten)

One day with a group of friends and their family we hired a private boat, and island hopped for the day. It wasn’t as cheap as you’d think, $500NZD for the day, including the driver and boat hand. Divided by our group of 12 it was well worth it.

I was also taken to one of Colombia’s top Avant Garde chef’s restaurants. The speciality was a rarity, the very poisonous Lion Fish. Colombia is apparently the only place in the world you can eat it, they’re killing all the local marine life so the chef’s concocted a way to put it to good use. It was divine, and of course nice to eat for a good cause.

All the posh Colombians seem to wear primarily white. All white. White on white on white. Very European. I unfortunately haven’t perfected the art of keeping it clean yet, particularly while beaching in 36 degree heat. At dinner, the couple at the table next to us (all in white of course) had even hired a private photographer for their engagement dinner. Lovely!

And so Colombia once again proves to be more than meets the eye. More then a developing country with millionaires to be specific.

The last week of my Colombian trip is full Gringo-ville I’m afraid. My first night in the hostel and I’m befriended by a group that even gave me a free mango daiquiri. Quickly their fiendish cocaine addiction became apparent. They were spending too much money so should stop drinking and just do Coke they reasoned. They were even all caught with it last night, and had to bribe police so as not to go to jail (which they complained about)

I finished my mango daiquiri, declined their lovely offer for a big night out and took to blog writing over a solitary beer.

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Sneak peak… the Caribbean

Day 5 in Cartagena, an old Spanish colony nestled on the Caribbean coast. Things are tranquillo. I don’t do a lot… beach, relax and wander inside the walls of the Old Town.

Of course eating is another favourite pass time – consistently primarily of fresh fish, coconut rice and the local artisan ice creams (am still working my way through the many delicious flavours)

Fresh fruit juice is served with every meal, coconut water is served by the coconut and the lemonades are made on the spot with fresh lime.

Oil massages are offered along the beach (usually with a free sample) and you can get your hair braided by a local strolling past if you fancy.

It’s bliss. Doesn’t exactly inspire blog writing or much internet time so here’s a little visual taste of Cartagena from my iPhone.

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Hasta Pronto Colombia!

It is done.

I fly — AUCKLAND —  MELBOURNE — LOS ANGELES — BOGOTA — where I’ll spend arround a month in Colombia. The rest is open ended, but planning to sail to PANAMA and meander around there & COSTA RICA before flying from there back to LA, then home.

2 months. 8 weeks. 56 days.

I can do anything. It’s a liberating thought.

The Caribbean, the Amazon, colonial towns, tropical islands — it’s all going to be happening.

In 3 1/2 months I’ll be taking off on a trip I’ve been contemplating for years. Dreaming, pondering and finally the timing seems right. I’m not 14, but I am on the #YOLO band wagon. And while I haven’t conned anyone into joining me, there will be a few friends along the way.

This will be my 3rd time to South America, the love affair continues…

I never made it to Colombia, but it was rated by all the traveller’s I met along the Gringo trail. Central America also sounds my kinda place.

I love the Latino culture – the mix of passion and tranquilo. I feel at home amongst it, and with my curly brown hair and olive skin I blend right in until I speak. I definitely need to work on my Spanish.

Been that side of the world before? Love to hear your thoughts. For those readers who travel vicariously, MANY a photo to follow… Like my blog on Facebook for photos and posts along the way 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/keshafayblog

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