Thursday, June 9, 2011


        I wander through the empty streets on a Sunday, the day of rest for all the people that hustle all week to survive.  I wonder where all my street vendors have gone.  I meander through the tight streets that are hugged by sidewalks and roofed by sky and Spanish antique wooden balconies holding waterfalls of flowers over the extremely colorful concrete walls.  Reds, yellows, pinks, greens, oranges, whites, and blues.  Blues: from the tint of the pale blue sky of the the aqua carribean ocean to the blue so deep its bright.  The roofs are of spanish terra cotta tiles from orange to brown.  Arched entrances pull you into their inner courtyards.  Tall, thick wooden doors fasten with heavy ornate latches and bolts.  The door knockers are huge rings hanging from mouths of iguanas and stylized human faces.
       Wandering coffee angels walking the streets with their box of thermoses.  Juice carts aren´t far off, nor are the vendors of fried treats.  My favorite is a big fried ball of potatoes surrounding a hard boiled egg or spicey meat for about 50 cents.  I eat little bits along the way in the direction I´m not sure of.  I find myself in the park that for the first time ever is mostly deserted.  Normally its filled with tumbling kids, chaotic soccer matches, a trampoline, cuddling couples, and the occasional drunk.  The park is always the hang out, but not at this moment, so I continue. 
       Further on I start to hear music.  I round the corner and find all the missing people.  There´s my girl.  A sweet, big-boned, black as night woman with the front grates of floor fans flipped upside down over fires holding bubbling and sizzling pots that are cooking what I´ve been looking for, beans, rice, marinated meat, and salad = $2. 
       With plate in hand, I climb to the top of the fortress wall and see it.  Baseball.  The street is shut down, and lines and bases are painted on the street and sidewalks.  Everyone is gathered dangerously around watching.  All in uniform with more teams waiting, they have their coaches and their game faces.  The empire keeps a steady eye and the fans cheer as the runners slide home on the sidewalk.  With the winning point came the uproar of the crowd. 
      This is an ancient colonial city of street vendors, dancing, cobblestones, balconies, music, hustle, churches, flowers, cocaine, money, and poverty-- all wrapped up in a stone fortressed wall.  The fort itself looms high over its protected treasure, Cartagena.  As for me, I´ll sit here on the railing of my balcony and watch it all go by.