This shoe sculpture in Cartegena is a favorite spot for tourists to take fun pictures, but was intended to honor local poet Luis Carlos Lopez, author of “A Mi Ciudad Nativa,” a poem written about the city of Cartegena. In the end, he compares the city of Cartegena to a pair of old shoes you love; well worn, but comfortable.
I agree that Cartegena is a beautiful “well worn” city with centuries of history and different cultures melding together.
We loved walking the walls around the old city, observing city life today and imagining what it was like centuries ago.
Our carriage ride through the old cobblestone streets brought us back to what it might have been like in the past as well.
However, as for the poet Lopez’s statement of it being “comfortable,” I may have to disagree. I know he wasn’t referring to the weather, but my overarching memory of Cartegena was how incredibly HOT and UNcomfortable it was there during the days. With temperatures in the 90’s and 100% humidity, it was really quite oppressive to do anything much besides swim during the day. We attempted some excursions, but realized quickly that unless there was water involved, it wasn’t worth being out.
Fortunately, we spent one day going on a boat ride to the Rosario Islands swimming and snorkeling. Tyler and Jeromy even had a chance to scuba dive!
We did brave the heat one day to explore San Felipe de Barajas Castle. It was built to protect the Spanish riches from pirate and English plunder (not always successfully). It was fun to learn about the real pirates of the Caribbean and the fortifications put in place to stop them
The days are hot, but in the evening, the breeze starts to blow, the town lights up and is full of energy as people come out to enjoy the cool(er) air. Walking the city walls at sunset was beautiful.
There are tons of delicious restaurants, shops, and people to wander amongst in the evenings. We have seen our fair share of street performers in our travels but this was the only place where you could be walking down the street and two guys would come up to you with a speaker under one arm and start rapping on the spot about you and your family. We all had fun dancing along as we had our own personalized rap performance, for just a small tip at the end.
Surprisingly, one of our favorite nights there was spent doing laundry! With only having enough clothes for about a week, one regular occurrence over the year for us was finding somewhere or someone to do our laundry. When staying in houses and apartments we would sometimes have a washer and dryer, but most the time we had to find a laundry service or laundromat to do our laundry. By far, our favorite place of the year was Beer and Laundry in Cartegena. Not only is it an ingenious idea to combine a place that will do your laundry while also serving you pizza and drinks, we also met some friends we spent the next couple days with as well.
They were also traveling long-term, but had 4 kids with the oldest being 10. I have to admit, I was sure glad I didn’t have to deal with diapers on our trip, but they seemed to float through traveling with ease. The night we met them, we just stood out on the street chatting, while the kids wrestled, played, and just were crazy together. The locals who were all sitting out enjoying the cool evening air, seemed to enjoy the entertainment of 7 crazy american kids for the evening!
I will end this with a quote, translated to English, from the end of the poem “A Mi Ciudad Nativa,” that sums up the feelings Lopez and I have about the old city of Cartegena.
You were heroic in the colonial years
When your children, esteemed eagles
Were not so easily vanquished.
But today, full of ancient disorder
You still inspire the love
That one has for (comfortable) old shoes…