Life around the world

Friday, 31 October, 2014 - 15:06

Cartagena: land of the pirates

by NatalieA2

I am currently living as an English language assistant in the city of Barranquilla, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Apart from the time I spent sitting at home, planning lessons, and running around Barranquilla, I recently managed to go a bit further and visit the beautiful city of Cartagena de Indias!

Having heard many good things about the city, I decided it was time I went to see for myself, so I headed off on Saturday morning to catch the bus and see what everyone was talking about. Arriving along the seafront, I saw views of wind-blown palm trees, huge creaking ships, and the famous walls of Cartagena's historic old town, having protected the centre of the city from invaders for hundreds of years.

After a short pause to work out where I was, I went to the beach to enjoy the Colombian sunshine and clear blue sea. Unfortunately, it was at that moment that the weather decided to get worse, so there was less sunbathing than expected! However, I managed to cheer myself up with a nice raspao - a flavoured ice drink - my first taste of the traditional drink (and hopefully not my last!).

Once evening arrived, it was time to visit the centre of the old town, starting with a walk along the top of the city walls. The lamps gave out a yellow glow, giving the whole scene a wonderfully historical, romantic feel, only added to by the presence of horse-drawn carriages in the streets below. We wandered down into the amber twilight, passing by street sellers and dancers, through squares with fountains and into open plazas with beautiful old cathedrals. Historically, the city is fascinating - once a former indigenous village, the arrival of the Spanish colonisers in the 16th century transformed it into a busy port town, making it an attractive target for pirates of all descriptions. After many attacks, the city developed a strong defence system, even including underground tunnels. You can't help but imagine the city's adventurous past, walking through streets that are so obviously full of stories to be told.

In the end, I wanted to stay even longer, to capture more of the magic within those walls. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Cartagena, land of the pirates!

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