things i learned: cartagena edition

Behold a top ten list of my most valuable discoveries:

  1. By American standards, sunscreen is ridiculously expensive, like, US$15-per-bottle expensive.
  2. Cartageneros embrace their hot and humid environment. Despite the sky-high temperatures and sticky air, many people forego air conditioning in favor of ice-cold limeade.
  3. Locals are not judgmental, and race is not a taboo subject. I saw people of all shades, and I was never called a mona or a gringa.
  4. Cartageneros are proud first to be Caribbean and second to be Colombian. They brag about their local environment, handicrafts, clothing, and customs.
  5. Chiquita Bananas are real, but fair warning: the fruit they carry atop their heads commands an absurd price.
  6. Locals are more adept to city living. They move aside when someone tries to pass. They maintain a reasonable walking pace.
  7. Bocagrande is basically a rich man’s ghetto. When not completely absent, the sidewalks are poorly maintained; even the condominiums, which were laughably constructed in the first place, are in desperate need of repair. A vast majority of the license plates read “Bogotá,” so I have to infer that Bogotanos are those leading the surge against walkable communities. As a result, Bocagrande is void of all sense of place, all character and charm—a stark contrast to the nearby walled city of Cartagena.
  8. Cartageneros have embraced the art of mixed juices and smoothies, and the result is so, so delicious.
  9. Whereas many of the tourists Seth and I encountered in the Eje Cafetero were Irish, in Cartagena we met mostly Germans.
  10. Despite the lack of abundant private security, Cartagena feels safer than Bogotá (Bocagrande not included).

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