When I get to travel for work I can't help but get excited thinking about going to one of the world's most historic cities. Cartagena Colombia is one of the oldest ports in the world where you have unbelievable culture, a city built within a wall, and beautiful beaches. While all of that sounds amazing, I find that while working I love entrenching myself with the locals at all costs. From the food I eat, to how I get around, nothing is more exciting to me than feeling I got the full "non tourist" experience of a city.
From the moment I landed I was hit with some serious heat. 90 degree weather coming from Minneapolis is quite the difference in climate. After taking a moment and adjusting to the new heavy heat, I found it to be quite nice. Due to the water there was a nice breeze most of the time. Surprisingly I was able to get around during the day via walking to where I needed to go. Granted I am used to walking 30 blocks in NYC in a given hour, so walking is my preferred form of transportation. The buildings were so colorful, and full of historical charm so it was even more enjoyable taking that all in. On a few of the nights I would take a taxi cab to the other side of the city due to being cautious, and safe as a young female. Their drivers are something else! I thought NYC taxi's were intense, but these drivers put them to shame haha. The one driver was talking about a pretty "days of our lives" type situation on whatsapp while driving. I enjoyed the good laugh! When heading to the beach before flying out I used a car, and guide to ensure I was safe, and avoided the more tourist areas. I wanted to see how they lived, and support their people. As to be expected their small towns from Cartagena to the beaches were quite poverty ridden, and hard to take in at times. Not all areas are as beautiful as the old town historical areas of Cartagena. For me the best part about traveling is meeting, and interacting with local people.
Some of the best moments are watching locals interact, and see how much passion they have. From dancing, to eating, and just loving the simple moments gathered around outside on a Tuesday night, it truly spoke to my soul. You could walk the streets and see into the homes of locals, and see that they are truly all about coming together with family, and loved ones to enjoy eachother after a long hot day of true hard work. I loved hearing them sing and dance together while walking by. It almost makes you forget you're there as a tourist, and want to jump in with them.
While traveling I tend to always pack with my work bag, and my carry on suitcase. I believe in a few quality pieces that are easy to dress up & down while going from work to a night out, and relaxing. I chose a few very light weight dresses, and separates that were in the linen family that would flow with the breeze. For me there is nothing worse than being overheated, and not able to enjoy a gorgeous outfit. I also happen to be on a serious white kick lately. I have a very old soul classy style that I tend to lean towards nine times out of ten. From my white La Blanca one piece swimsuit, to my white BCBG Maxazria work attire, I loved being in white surrounded by so much color, and focusing on the structures, and design around me. I also chose to go with black & white pieces such as my Forever 21 dress (Can you believe that was $27!) and my matching hat. They were all very lightweight, and elegant for a city such as Cartagena.
As for the food, my goodness the food! I am a pretty healthy eater. I loved the idea of fresh caught seafood, and vegetables. I am not one for sweats, and heavy breads, but what I will say is their bread smelled like heaven while walking by. The street vendors are some of my favorite go to's when traveling to get authentic cuisine. From fresh patacones (a plantain dish), arepas ( ground maize flatbread) and the unbelievable fresh papaya and mango. I truly was in heaven as a health conscious food lover. One of the newer twists that I loved was the coconut milk rice, and their fresh ceviche. I also loved being able to buy from the local markets, and was intrigued that the eggs in Colombia, as well as in other European countries are not refrigerated.
Overall Colombia was a truly wonderful experience. Although working I took in all that the city had to offer as a local. I was accepted with open arms, and treated with such warmth and hospitality. I never felt unsafe, or uncomfortable while walking, or exploring the city.
I hope you enjoy and feel the love for the city of Cartagena that I felt with the photos captured below!