Cartagena, Columbia

We only had a half-day in Cartagena, but we made the most of it with a walking tour of the Old City.  We saw the fortress built to stop the repeated plundering of Cartagena by English and French pirates, a Catholic church where canonized priest Peter Claver evangelized thousands of black slaves from Africa, and side streets lined with buildings painted red, yellow, blue and lavender with balconies spilling hot pink bougainvillea.  Ladies in tiered skirts and ruffled tops of sherbet pink and yellow carried baskets of tropical fruit on their heads. 

The scented heat had us melting.  After seeing the highlights of old Cartagena, we sank thankfully onto seats in a cool convent-converted-to-college auditorium and were treated to a folkloric dance program.  Our guide, John Riveros (a relative, perhaps?), told us that Columbia is a nation of mixed race people, and the dances represented various inter-racial ethnic groups. 

The costumes were bright watermelon red, tangerine orange, banana yellow and lime green with white lace.  The girls wore feathered head-dresses and the boys snapped red handkerchiefs while flirting to the beat of Columbian and Mexican drums and fast tune of a single clarinet.  I didn’t know the human body could move in so many ways all at once.  Even with my fast camera, most of the pictures are a blur of colors.  And it looked like so much fun!  Good exercise, too.  We were all exhausted watching them. 

The next time Rick goes off to play golf, I’m going to hunt for the Caribbean beat station among the satellite channels and see if I can choreograph a dance-exercise routine.  I’ll add in a little of my own mixed heritage — some German polka, a little Irish jig, a dash of English minuet and sounds from the American Indians.  I think I’ll call it Frani’s Heinz 57 Folkloric.