Cartagena, what went wrong?

I had grand expectations of Cartagena. I pictured the Caribbean Sea, an all-consuming fierce heat, the colourful alleyway, the tropical fruit and old fort walls cramming it all into one walkable corner of the city.

I saw all of this, but didn't feel any of it. The brightly dressed women chatting and laughing while cutting fruit is no more than a tourist gimmick. Touts harassed us with overpriced beach tours, drugs and party buses. We fought our way down tiny footpaths around hordes of shoppers. We melted in the direct sunlight and felt too drained to leave our air conditioned room. The ocean reeked and locals blamed the excess waste on the cruise ships.

The pictures are pretty because they don't show the prostitutes, (although that would have made for interesting photographs) and they don't show the catcalls that men regularly shout out to women. Instead my photographs show quaint balconies and bright flowers and Christmas lights.

However, the street art speaks the Cartagena vibe - a smooth blend of the Caribbean and the Latin American, which has nearly been overwhelmed by the relentless badgering of touts and an overlay of seedy sex tourism.

I could imagine what the city was like a decade ago and I really wanted to love Cartagena.


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Hey, I'm Emma

Fuelled by wanderlust, curiosity and a little restlessness, a natural at budget travel, so naturally, a travel blogger. An experienced chef, a proud kiwi, and a burgeoning photographer. And my old friends reading and writing? We go way back.

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