Temperature wise only though. It was 90+ degrees every day. All day. Plus humidity. Baking freaking hot. That said, we managed to clock in about 50 – 60 kilometers of walking in 4 days, which felt like no small feat, believe me.
The old walled city is lovely and there is still much restoration underway so it is changing all the time. Lots of great little restaurants and bars along every street and parks/plazas with occasional outdoor concerts in the evenings.
Our favorite night-time hangout was Plaza de la Trinidad - just down the street in the Getsemani neighbourhood where we stayed. The plaza is bordered by a large church on one side with a wide staircase leading up to it that is great for lounging about, as well as seating areas provided by the benches that surround the plaza. At night there are street performances by hip hop dancers, jugglers, and other artists. The music is pumping and there are a variety of food vendors grilling up all sorts of skewers of meats and others with pastries and ice cream.
Public drinking is not an issue here so it is great to bring along a bottle of wine, or pick up an ice cold cerveza and join in the fun, everyone does.
On the weekend the city beaches are full of families and friends playing in the surf and bouncing to the ever present beat of the Top 20 Spanish songs playing at top volume. South America has the magic when it comes to crystal clear music pumped at max volumes. Everyone knows every word and every single person is moving to the beat – resistance is futile (and boring). Fresh fruit cocktail, cerveza and food stands can be found every 200 feet or so, so no need to get parched or hungry. So civilized.
We also met up with some of our friends from the boat and headed out to the legendary salsa club Havana, where it is packed to the rafters with amazing salsa dancers breaking a sonic sweat to the live band that plays every night. We did the gringa salsa version and soon others were stepping in to teach us everything we were doing wrong. So fun.
We wanted to see the fortress, but the unrelenting heat had us just looking in from the outside. The very idea of heading down to the tunnels made rivers of sweat form. It’s an amazing sight to see even from the outside though.
One unusual sight we saw in this city were unofficial ”motorcycle taxis”. On the edge of the old town, dozens of motorcycles were coming and going and dropping off passengers. Once you watch for a minute you realize that the departing passengers hand over the helmet and pay some cash to the driver, and then the driver beeps his horn and holds out the helmet for any other interested passenger. Wow. Now I’m not a total germaphobe or anything, but I did mention it’s at least 90 degrees daily, right. Public helmets? Yikes.
The people in Colombia are amazing - good natured, friendly, curious and helpful. The men in particular are expressive in their constant and unrelenting appreciation of women. Whistling, honking, yelling out of cars or chatting up women on the street are all common behavior – a passionate culture to say the least.
We were sad to leave this city, but were looking forward to cooler weather in our next stop Medellin – the subject of a recent Vancouver Sun article. Also, the dire lack of ping pong facilities indicated it was time to move on!