Cartagena was hot. Too hot.
And I was feeling a bit warn down.
After five months in Central America I had finally landed in my first and only (for now, at least) stop in South America: Colombia.
And I wasn’t in love.
I was afraid that I wouldn’t be. Colombia was one of those places that was talked up so much as being a favorite country, a must-see, that I worried that it wouldn’t live up to the hype.
And while Cartagena was pretty, while the food was cheap and plentiful, while it was a nice town, I wasn’t feeling it.
It didn’t help that on my first night I encountered way too many backpackers who were simply eager to find coke. It didn’t help that it was so hot outside that I’d come back from a morning walk drenched in sweat and never wanting to leave the air-conditioned TV room. It didn’t help that after two days of doing nothing but thinking on the boat ride from Panama that I was kind of anxious for the next part of my journey. That I kind of just wanted to fast forward in time, past Colombia.
After the coke incidents I really didn’t feel like being social, so I didn’t go out while I was there, read books in bed, fell asleep early, hardly talked to anyone outside of telling them that they could change the channel on the television.
I did, however, have one moment of sheer clarity. I went to a church one night. Not to the church, but to the grounds, where locals gathered, ate cheap arepas, corn, grilled meat. Where teenagers were playing football. Where children were riding bicycles.
And everything felt alive.
And Colombia, in that moment, felt like everything I’d ever wanted.