3 words to describe Cartagena: sex, slither, sun
My plane landed in Cartagena yesterday around 1:30PM, it was supposed to land at 12:30.. except it just HAD to be snowing in NYC when I left LaGuardia. I am pretty sure, I will never-ever fly through LaGuardia again if I have a say in the situation.. I'm jinxed, LaGuardia hates me!
Fresh off the plane, I found an ATM, got some yummy pesos (Thank you Lord, my card worked!) and bargained for a taxi. Yes, I, Paula Ferguson bargained (I hope you heard that, Ange!). Although.. my bargaining didn't go over too well since my 'super nice' taxi driver who liked to talk to me in really fast spanish so that I didn't understand a word decided not to give me the correct change back.. first he was 2,000 pesos short.. then, he was 1,000 pesos short (I wanted to use the few choice words in spanish that I know when I left the cab, but I decided not to make any enemies too early on!).. but I just rolled my eyes and jumped up and down that I was actually a couple of blocks from my hostel!
What I've learned:
How do you cross the road?
There were people walking everywhere.. slithering rather, but I'll get to that later.. I had no idea.. how to cross the road! I'm watching how the heck they would cross it, but it's basically like sacrificing your life everytime. I really wanted to do the super cool 'put your hand up' Korean Kindergarten style, but decided to play frogger instead. There are no cross walks.. it was a four lane road, but I didn't die. I've now learned in the past 24 hours I have been here that if you give the taxi drivers joy by hurrying across the road they go faster.. if you walk across the road without a care in the world (and with a slither of sorts) they slow down and will rarely honk. But even if they are honking, so many other taxis are honking as well that you wouldn't even be able to tell if he was honking at you or not. My theory on crossing roads really slowly may hurl me in the hospital one day, but I swear it is the Colombian way.
How do you get a vaccination?
Cartagena is a city, but without all of the skyscrapers. The buildings that were tall were really old, and barely looked like they could house any sort of business. But somehow they do, and people literally wait in lines to go up the elevators. Once I arrived, my first order of business was to receive my Typhoid vaccine. I waited on getting it because I figured it would be cheaper than the US, it was about half the price. I was a bit stressed at first, because I had emailed the owner of the hostel I stayed with and asked if she knew of a clinic. She had no idea, luckily I put up a post on www.couchsurfing.org and an angel came my way! She said 'it's in the Citi Bank building, hope that helps', I was excited she had actually heard of it.. but with the lack of road names around here, I wasn't sure if I would be able to find it. The lady at the front desk pointed on a map to where the 'CitiBank' building was.. but with only being in the city for an hour, I was more than a bit confused!
I finally found the building after walking in huge circles through bustling markets for about 30 minutes in 90 degree heat. It wasn't fun, but definitely helped me figure out where things were in the area! What is really pitiful though, is how horrible my spanish is. O M G! It's pretty sad, I think I used Korean words about 5 times in a period of 15 minutes. Luckily though, I THINK I received the correct vaccine. I guess we'll find out! And currently, my arm hurts so bad I can hardly take off and put on a shirt because it's so sore when I try to move it above my head.
How do you slither?
I'm going to make at least a million dollars off of my new dance, 'do the slither'.. kind of like the dougie, but way cooler!! OK, so the Colombian women OOZE sex.. yes, ooze! Regardless if they're skinny or a bit hefty, those girls will wear the tightest pants and top you've ever seen in your life. And they're (skinny) bodies are bangin'! Tiniest waste, biggest butts, a lot have boob jobs.. men, you'd better by your tickets now while they're cheap! But boooy do these girls have attitude, you can tell it by their slither. I had a conversation with some people last night about this topic, and everyone agreed except for the guy from Norway who didn't know what 'slither' meant. They swing their hips while walking every so slowly, not like the cat walk swing your hips, but a slooowww, fiieerrccee, ssuulllttrryyy, strut! These girls, can snag attention! I've also learned that the slower I walk on the streets the less I look like a tourist (I think!). I'll have to admit, I'm working on my slither.. but I can't take it outside of Colombia, may look a bit REDIC!
How do you stop discrimination?
Have kids dress up in KKK robes and ride in a carriage, with a couple of hundred people following with signs and chanting to protest discrimination. No lies, check out the pictures! They got this idea from somewhere.. wonder where America?! It was really cool to see a protest of sorts though, everyone in the streets seemed to be excited they were doing it!
I spent the little part of the day I had yesterday wandering around the streets letting myself get lost.. I'm horrible at direction, so maps were never needed! The city area is quite easy to become familiar with as well! After I was tired enough from walking around everywhere, I hung out a bit in the common room and chatted with a guy from Boston & Norway, Dorian and Rossamus. Then, a guy walks in and says his name is PAUL.. where are you from Paul? Paul is from NEW ZEALAND (irony? I think so!). We all got dinner together and then headed to the walled city for some drinks at Donde Fidel in the plaza area. There, we had the best entertainment ever! A MIME, it was so terribly random, but really freaking hilarious! He would walk behind people mimicking how they walk, hop in front of cars and trick them in different ways.. people watching is great in the first place, but with someone making fun of them when they're completely oblivious to the fact infront of about 50 people.. it's more than priceless!
Today, I went to the fortress 'Castillo San Felipe', it was interesting.. and filled with tourists. To the point where there were about 30 older people (French tour groups. err) waiting on the sidewalk to go in, all topped with big brimmed 'tourist' hats. There was even a man within the fortress dressed as a soldier playing 'La Bamba' on the trumpet.. Definitely overpriced, about $9US to get in. I would recommend just looking at it from the outside! However it was pretty relaxing, just super hot. Apparently Cartagena is much hotter than most areas in Colombia because the wind can't blow through the buildings.. thank God it wont be this bad everywhere! Then, I walked about 20 minutes to Bocagrande which is a mini Miami of sorts. It has a thin beach area with much nicer sky rises than in 'el centro de cartagena'. I sat on a rock and practiced writing some spanish, I didn't know my feet were going to take me there today, so I wasn't dressed for the water :(. Then, I wandered a bit through the walled city again .. and GUESS WHAT?
I SHOWERED!! I know, I know.. I could hardly believe myself at first! It was just soo sticky outside, and I felt the need to get clean.. doesn't happen often! :) I'll end with that!
Colombia is treating me well, the people are great, the food is great, life is.. great and I am clean! hehe