Downtown Cartegano surrounds the Old Town. This is where the locals live – a mixture of the descendants of the Spanish colonialists, the indigenous peoples & the African slaves. Small quiet neighbourhoods are positioned next to noisey traffic arterial routes with shopping malls & smaller businesses selling everything from beach wear to electrical goods.
Quiet streets with low buildings, interspersed with squares & piazzas, form the grids where the locals live. The colour is provided by the painted rendering, huge green pot plants & a lot of grafitti of varying quality, all finished off with African & salsa rythmns coming from open windows & doorways.
Soon one hits the Downtown area. Shopping precincts & shopping centres front the arterial roads full of honking taxis, smoking buses, motor bikes, carts & street vendors. The reason for so many taxis is down to the lack of parking spaces & the high cost of petrol for private vehicles.
Where the Old Town & Downtown Cartagena merge buildings & cultures exist side by sside – theatres & clubs & cinemas & bars & galleries & colleges cater for all types.
There is such a mixture of people here. They share one characteristic – they are so friendly. People call across the welcome us to their country, morning & evening greetings are common, we are approached in the street to see where are from. All are exceptionally proud of their country & their city & want us to see its best features. Even the hawkers can have a laugh when i try to sell them my old watch or reject their Panamas because my head is so large. A lovely people.