Thursday, November 22, 2012

No le pegue a la negra - My long overdue post on Cartagena

Hola Amigos and Purveyors of this Blog,

I've been doing a whole lot of living and not enough writing over the past two months but I HAD to put up some pics from my beyond wonderful trip to Cartagena, Colombia in October. I went for my beau's birthday and could not have chosen a better location. We originally slotted ourselves for Barranquilla but correctly changed plans at the prodding of our fellow travelers to what is one of the most beautiful, vibrant, and amazing cities that I've ever been too.
Beautiful Brown Girls

90 Degrees! 

Disguising the Evil They Lost My Bags Face

Local Commerce

Cartagena had it all, it was my "sophistiratchet" self rolled up in a living breathing city. If it had a theme song it would have certainly been "No le pegue la negra" We stayed at a bed and breakfast called "Les Lezards" owned by a french fella named Marcus in the old city. Because of bday boy we were upgraded to the "Africa Suite" which probably was more exciting to me than my companion but anywho, it was beautiful. Not in the, I'm writing for my blog and it has to sound spectacular way, but in the OMG this is even better than the pics can I live here sort of way. Our place was right in the old city, where pretty much everything you want to see exists, had 4 stories, a rooftop, outdoor jacuzzi, and amazing staff who cooked breakfast every morning (note...arepas are not always your friend).
Rooftop View

All Sorts of Books Kama Sutra Too *covers eyes*

Jacuzzi Flow

Frances en Espanol?

Once we ventured out of the house, me in my same clothes due to an American Airlines party foul, we began to roam the area and check out the locals who were every beautiful shade of brown you can imagine. The cumbia, reggaeton, salsa, and hip-hop blasted from every open house as we walked down the street. The square near our place was anchored by a beautiful yellow church that was indeed functioning despite the full out barefoot soccer games taking place in front of it. We dined at the beautiful Casa de las Cervezas which is on the top of a former fort and had beautiful views of the bay. We were def paying for the view as the food and drinks left something to be desired.
View from Cafe de Las Cervezas

The Many Colors of a Cartagena Sunset

Pollo Tropical >>>>

Mangoes Everywhere!

Central Clocktower

Day 2 was DOPE, we went to El Bazurto Social Club which in name alone sounds fly. It didn't disappoint. The Afro-Colombian spirit was alive and well in this place and we danced the night away after eating a meal that I've been craving ever since, coconut rice, plantains, and chicken marinated in spices to die for.
Afro Colombian Homage

Me the Booski and E Badu?

La Comida!

Live Music, Please and Thank U

We opted for an adventure on Day 3, the actual birthday and decided to take a bus to the "mud volcano" about an hour outside of town. An experience is an understatement, between the bus breaking down, the strange men rubbing you down in mud, and the women in the river washing us down remarking that my mate was "delicioso" this was by far one of the top moments of the trip. If you do nothing else in Cartagena DO THIS.
The Post-Mud Volcano Struggle

Getting home was a piece of cake and we opted for a fancy dinner at La Vitrola, restaurant that I'm sure the cartel frequented in its heydey but awesome food nonetheless. It was in a more touristy part of town then our digs in "Get-Set-Amie" but picturesque nonetheless. Bouncing from fancy time we headed out for a night of revelrie by way of the Cartagena party bus "Las Chivas". You basically ride around with semi-obnoxious people (yourselves included if you're doing it right) drink nearly unlimited rum and coke with a makeshift cumbia band keeping your spirits high. You get dropped off in the end by another of Colombia's forts and the end of the night is yours. The rest of the evening was too hot for this blog but let's just say I spoke fluent Spanish "rachetese" by sunrise.
Our Unlikely Party Bus Starter

Wilmon w/ the Cuba Libre after the Chiva

Stumbled Upon the Masons

The Police Officer Loved NY So Much He Escorted Us To The Club

After our night of bday shenanigans we missed our boat trip to the beautiful beaches at Islas de Rosario so we decided to head to the Castillo Fort which we learned also doubled as the slave holding and receiving location. The gates and holding cells looked eerily similar to those I say in August in Equatorial Guinea and I def had an emotional moment there but it was a spectacular construct nonetheless. It was here that I learned that Colombian flags only come in size XXXL when on display lol.


Columbian Flag XXXL

Holding Cell - Colonialism

We finally made it to the beach on our final day and it was indeed beautiful...however don't get duped on a psuedo snorkeling run. We thought we were going to get up close and personal with stingrays and coral reefs and ended up getting dumped into the middle of the ocean sans fins and swimming away from a blurry jellyfish. Definitely spend the time and money researching your beach excursion to make the most of it or better yet, let someone like Marcus do it.

There is plenty of street eats, restaurants and other haunts to check out most notably the mysterious Coco Loso's, all tostones, and some wonderful places to get a blow out. I would go back to Cartagena in a heartbeat. It was hands down one of the best trips of my life! Check out more snaps of the goodness below.

Ciao until next time.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Tears Came This Morning

In 2008, I was in Chicago's Grant Park on a strangely balmy November evening with my 5 month old son strapped to my chest and a circle of people hovering over us as I breastfed him. Their faces looked like a United Nations of the Windy City and they were all complete strangers to me. Flanked by a million people anxiously awaiting the results of the election flashing before us on the big screen, I felt an American unity that I'd never even conceptualized before.

When the Obama family walked on stage in their stunning red and black ensembles there was not a dry eye in downtown Chicago. I'd never doled out so many hugs or smiled so hard for a person I did not know. It was ethereal, walking down Michigan Ave in complete peace. That was the best way to describe the feeling I had the night we elected our first Black President. For that evening, it was as if America had found a way to forgive ourselves for our bloody and untenable history with race.

Fast forward to 2012 and it was as if this moment was a dream, a blip on the radar with camps from every community blasting the President. It was if the worst of America had come back with a vengeance, from the Obama effigies hanging at the gas station to the slave wench representations of our First Lady. I began to wonder if the peace I felt in 2008 would ever return. I began to wonder if the conspiracy theories were true, or if my peers would sit home, and if we as a country would disappoint the entire world by failing to re-elect who I feel will be the greatest President our country has ever seen. Not because we share the same skin color but because for the first time in our history, the whole of America is represented in its highest office - the single-parent households, the minorities, the ivy-leaguers, the rich, and the poor.

Last night I felt a huge sigh of relief in the realization that the America of November 2008 still existed despite the rhetoric and foul-play of this election but there were no tears. However, this morning as I sit at my desk and thought about my son and realized that the 2012 election was markedly the turning point in our history the tears began to flow.

To create an America that has no choice but to recognize the wants and needs of our diverse society is the greatest achievement we've made. To show that when those people are addressed and considered an important part of society, they will involve themselves in the political process will forever change the political discourse in our country. To know that from his first year in life, my son was born into a world where his possibilities and potential would only be determined by his hard work and that of our community is the best peace of mind I could ask for. Again, I am a proud American and honored to represent my country in this world.