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Turning 30 South American Style With the dreaded 30th birthday looming, I ran away to South America to celebrate the landmark birthday in style.

Cartagena

COLOMBIA | Thursday, 24 July 2008 | Views [936]

We spent three days on a bus traveling across the length of the country to reach the sunny Caribbean coast and arrived in Cartagena happy and hot. We ditched plans to stay in the back packer ghetto at Gethsemane shortly after I accidentally wandered into a crack den thinking it was a hostel. And so into the cruise ship annexe of the inner walled city, a lavishly restored Disney version of colonial Colombia. As close to Havana as Latin America gets but with the soul taken out. It is so breath takingly beautiful and entirely unreal at the same time. No one lives there, it seems almost entirely functioning to serve wealthy tourists with local people hired as extras to sell fruit in the streets and add some character.

It is a spectacular place, painted in the brightest sassiest coluors available, with rich reds, blues and yellows all lined up cheek by jowl and covered in tropical plants bursting out of terracotta plant pots and trailing trees. A photo opportunity awaits on every street corner and even the police do their best to fit in with the scene with some riding a scenic horse and cart around the cobbled streets.

We spent three days wandering around the city walls, searching for shade in the plazas and having many beers in a picturesque al fresco bar by the clock tower at the main square. And we had a lovely balcony on out hotel right in the center so we could sit out at night watching the boys on the pavement below checking out the girls walking by.

Tags: caribbean, cartagena, city walls, colombia, gethsemane, latin america, photograph, photography, salsa, south america

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