Cartagena was my last stop on a two and a half week Colombia vacation. The laid back Caribbean coast city was the perfect place to end the trip, even though I wished it didn’t have to end at all. Apparently, this city inspired Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ writing and as soon as I set foot in Cartagena I understood why. Magical is not an overly dramatic way to describe it. The architecture, the yellow-lit streets at night, the heat, the breeze off the ocean, seafood, freshly squeezed fruit juice, street vendors selling papaya and mangoes, all contribute to the magic of Cartagena. Not even the packs of tourists could ruin this mood.

I kept most of my days unstructured, knowing the climate would slow me down and force me to relax. I booked a day trip to the Islas del Rosario, tiny islands off the coast of Cartagena where we arrived by motorboat. I waded in blue waters, dipped into the pool, and ate an amazing lunch of fish, rice, yuca fries, and cocadas for dessert.

My other days were full of eating, drinking, and aimless walking around the Centro Histórico taking photos. I took full advantage of the exchange rate and treated myself to a spa trip and a four course meal at an upscale restaurant called Carmen. I was set on seeing Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ home and it didn’t disappoint, even just from the outside.

One night, I met up with Kasia, a German traveler who I met at the Nueva Lengua Spanish school in Bogotá. We went to Cafe Havana and danced to a live salsa band until the place closed. I also went dancing on my own to Quiebracanto, a bar right next to my hotel. Unfortunately, those are the only two salsa nights I had since the heat wiped me out on a daily basis.

On my last night in Cartagena, I was like a kid who didn’t want to go home after playing outside all day. With no particular plans, I wandered the streets until I got tired and found a restaurant that looked like it had good seafood. I had a comforting meal of rice with shrimp and plantains and of course some fresh fruit juice. With only two other people in the restaurant, the waiter and I talked throughout the meal and his friendliness made me even more sad to leave. After dinner, I wandered a bit more then finally gave in and returned to my hotel to prepare for an early flight the next morning.

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