TRAVEL + STYLE
COLOMBIA PART I – THE BLACK GIRL’S GUIDE TO CARTAGENA
April 4, 2019
Colombia never made it on my list of places to visit, but it has easily become one of my favorite vacation destinations to date! I met up with five friends in Cartagena, where we spent three glorious, fun filled days in the sun, then we hopped on a quick flight to Medellin for the final two days of our girls’ trip. The Colombian heritage is rich, and the people are beautiful. To be completely honest, I had THE time of my life! There’s a plethora of things to see and do, so this will be an intimate tour of Cartagena, as I experienced it, and am sharing with you. I’ll reserve Part II for our stop in Medellin.
TOUR OF THE WALLED CITY/OLD TOWN
The architecture was influenced very much by the various colonizers and settlers in Cartagena. You can see the differences in the style of the balconies, and the materials used to build them.
Torre del Reloj. Cartagena Clock Tower, the city’s famous landmark
Palenquera Fruit Ladies in Colorful Dresses
After enjoying the free walking tour in Old Town, we wandered around the colorful streets snapping photos and taking in the sunset at Cafe Del Mar. Dinner was at one of the local restaurants in Plaza de Santo Domingo, and we sat outside, just feet away from La Gorda Gertrudis (The Reclining Fat Lady Statue). If you prefer not to be bothered every two minutes by locals peddling their wares, dining inside is the better option.
Rubbing on the booty for good luck!
CULTURAL TOUR OF PALENQUE & VOLCAN DEL TOTUMO
We started day two at 8:00 AM, pretty early for a vacation, but well worth it!
First, a quick pit stop to enjoy some authentic Colombian street fare…
Chicken & Beef Empanadas (with a host of delicious dipping sauces)
Iguana eggs anyone??
We hopped back into our tour bus, destination: Palenque, for a cultural tour of the community built by the Africans who escaped slavery in the 1600’s. This stronghold of escaped slaves was able to survive when others fell, because of its isolation in the jungle and swamps located over an hour outside of Cartagena. Today, the African culture has been preserved, including the Bantu language, traditional music and dances, and customs and spiritual beliefs. We were ready to take it all in! Entering Palenque…
A traditional house in Palenque. We were invited in for a tour and served sweet coconut treats from our gracious hostess.
We stopped at a local dance company for a live performance of traditional music and dance.
These young dancers were great! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! On our way out, we happened to spot the little girl, the muse who inspired this mural seen as you enter Palenque. She’s grown up now, and she was nice enough to oblige us with a photo!
A pre-lunch treat of homemade rum (yeke), with watermelon chasers!
Eat your heart out! Lunch courtesy of Restaurante Los Tizones Arjona Asadero
Time to cool off with a relaxing dip in Volcan Del Totumo!
The tour stop at this mud volcano is usually scheduled for the morning, but we were able to request a late afternoon tour. It was the perfect way to end the hot and sticky tour of Palenque. For a few extra dollars, we were treated to mud massages, and a very vigorous rinsing in the ocean by the locals.
ISLAND HOPPING – ISLAS DEL ROSARIO
Our final full day in Cartagena was all fun and relaxation. We chartered a speedboat for the day to go sailing and island hopping at the Rosario Islands. One of the girls in our group is fluent in Spanish, so she translated as we got a brief historical tour of the islands!
During slavery, sharks were trapped and kept in this port to prevent runaway slaves from escaping to freedom.
What’s a trip to Colombia without a Pablo Escobar story? This is the body of his downed plane, which still sits on the ocean floor by the Rosario Islands.
Sunrise from our penthouse apartment in Cartagena
The final stop in Cartagena, before our short flight to Medellin, was to Getsemani to snap photos in the best Instagramable spots!
Our early morning photoshoot was the perfect timing to get the best shots in before the streets got overly crowded, or the sun too hot for my sunburned skin (that #boatlife turnup got real)!! Here are a few of my recommendations for when you plan your trip to Colombia. Because believe me, you should!
Walled City/Old Town
Book a free walking tour at freewalkingtourcaragena.co. Be sure to stop in at Cafe Del Mar after the tour for drinks with a beautiful view!
Lots of Instagramable photo ops on the colorful streets of Getsemani, including many beautiful murals! Palenque
A cultural tour of this preserved African community comes highly recommended! Be sure to book Alex Rocha for this wonderful experience.
Islas Del Rosario
Spend the day island hopping these beautiful islands. You can dock at one of the party islands, or sunbathe on a secluded island for more privacy.
2. WHERE TO EAT
Restaurante Los Tizones Arjona Asadero
Marzola Parrilla Argentina
3. NIGHT LIFE
Chiva Party Bus
Leblon Disco Club
Photo Credit: A huge thanks to my girls Alex Dotson and Menika Harris for helping me capture our Colombian adventures!
Stay tuned for Part II – Medellin! This beautiful city had a whole different vibe from Cartagena, and I can’t wait to share it with you!
Live FEARLESS, one fashionable moment at a time