Gabriel Garcia’s Walled City of Love
June 13, 2012 § 4 Comments
Traveling to Cartagena’s old city was like walking into a time capsule adorned in colors of a bygone colonial era. This historical, fortress-ed city is a World Heritage site and I am happy to say, immaculately preserved.
Here, old Spanish villas of incredible beauty sit complacently along narrow streets bound in bountiful Bougainvillea. This rainbow-esque congregation of walls and flowers is ensconced within a high, circular stone-wall; a fort whose continuous perimeter is dotted with rusty black canons. Across these stone walls, along the curve of the sea-line, a patch of the new city looks on longingly, gleaming glass and steel.
It’s such a bustling city. At first glance, all I could see was tourists and persistent vendors. The weekend went by. Then appeared school children, local craftsmen, blue and white-collar workers. The people, are as colorful: of multi-ethnic origin, of immutable joy that comes from living in cities by the sea. What is it about cities by the sea? A certain vibrance inhabits them, they are our ancient outposts: watching over and celebrating the companionship of land and water.
I generally prefer walkable places, where I don’t have to distract myself with local transportation. Wouldn’t you agree? The more you get to walk, the more you rub shoulders with the locals. Sense the place more keenly, the different smells of its streets. Short travels as it is feel incomplete; barely managing to skim the surface of a world unknown to us.
Cartagena’s beauty left me short of breath often. But I couldn’t stop walking, gawking, clicking. I couldn’t stop talking, in broken spanish, if need be. Warm yellow, cool blue and soft pink walls greeted me as I turned corners in a daze, blinking under the bright sky. My awe hasn’t diminished a bit since then. My ghost is still there, left in a fortress of love, one which was for a while, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s city.