Love in the Time of Cartagena
We arrived in a merciless heat wave; the locals shook their heads, claiming El Nino. "Michael, it's way too hot for Sia, we can't go out," I heard my new mom-voice say. Always a matter of life and death!
Which was fine by me- Casa Quero was a score (and the only hotel available in El Centro, thanks to its new "Latin America's hippest secret" moniker). Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who lived in Cartagena & regarded the city as his literary muse, could have torn pages out of his own book with this boutique hotel, Mondrian-colored toucans flying freely about & ladies on staff humming Sia to sleep in paisley woven hammocks. It was perfectly Love in the Time of Cholera and not in our budget at all.
When we did finally get out into the waning sunlight of El Centro, 50+ zinc slathered on Sia's face like the Pierrot mime, it was clear life had changed for us. We were parents now.
In an alternative universe we would have trolled Plaza de Bolívar with our cameras but today we jimmied our compact European travel stroller up and down the inconvenient curbs, nearly getting plowed over by horse carriages. "Watch out!" I called out to Michael. The sun was still debilitating, even in the early evening, and I was following Sia in the stroller shielding her with a scarf. I felt like Michael Jackson's publicist at the Grammys. At some point I'd given her my sunglasses as a bribe-toy and those were gone somewhere between Plaza Fernández de Madrid and the sea. I tried to play it cool but it was no use: we were officially European-American tourists on a family trip.
I still found it hard to comprehend the magnitude of the next four months- the impressions we would have, the nomadic-ness of it all, raising a baby on the road. We were only in Cartagena, a colonial trading post that spilled into the Caribbean- what were we going to do when we really got off-the-grid?
I suppose if we were launching into a trip taking us around the world with our baby daughter, Cartagena would be the perfect inauguration- South Americans loved her, she was a golden ticket for conversation, women came up on the street and tickled her feet. "Muy hermosa!" they said. Sia didn't flinch at any of it. She was in her element, and our love for her expanded even more than it already had.
"Love knows no bounds," wrote Gabo in Love in the Time of Cholera. Was it possible to be this in love with our daughter?
1-4: Hotel Boutique Casa Quero
5: Horse carriages by Avenida Santander
6: Wheeling around El Centro in Mountain Buggy Nano and Nuroo scarf
7/8: Vallenato, Cumbia & Mapalé outside of La Catedral Cartagena & Plaza de Bolívar
9-14: Plaza Fernández de Madrid, the setting for Gabríel Garcia Márquez's novel "Love in the Time of Cholera"
15: Plaza de Santo Domingo. Thanks for the wear & tear Teva, Icebreaker, Fjallraven, Wallaroo & Panasonic Lumix
16-18: Avenida Samander football
19-23: Getsemani at sunset. My Vans will be black by the time this is finished. Thanks Flaphappy, Babyganics & Kindercarry for the baby survival.