Dan and I have been back in Canada for just over two weeks. Being back has been a hefty adjustment. We’ve gone from being within kissing distance to being divided by a 1 and a half hour commute. We’ve gone from being as free as birds to being saddled with jobs, parental rules and societal expectations. Re-integration is not easy when you feel like you’ve changed but the world you return to has not.

One of the mistakes we made was to let the blog grow idle. I forgot how important it is to record our memories and stories; they remind us of our personal growth and connect this life to our traveling life. There are still so many stories that we haven’t told. I’m not sure if anyone is still interested but, at this point, I think I’m writing this more for me than anyone else.

It’s still easy to close my eyes and put myself back on the streets of Cartagena’s old town… Through the clock tower, we pass horse drawn carriages waiting patiently for tourists in the Portal de Dulces. Hidden in the porticos are the ladies who sell coconut-laden sweets from their carts.

Down a narrow street, we look up to admire the lavish balconies and the movie-set street lamps. At the edge of the old town, we reach the tall stone ramparts that protected this city from pirate invaders during Spanish rule.

Climbing up and walking along the wall, we can look to one side and watch the blue waves crash against the rocks. We don’t stop sweating, the Caribbean heat is heavy and exhausting.

We try to seek refuge from the heat in our hotel room but we didn’t spring for air conditioning. The two fans just pump around increasingly warm air.

We succumb to the fact that we’re tourists and do the ultimate touristy thing by hopping on a party bus called a chivay. This involves copious amounts of cheap rum and a 2-3 hour  drive around the streets of Cartagena accompanied by the bus’ band of local musicians. They eventually drop us off at a club and we discover what Cartagena is famous for – a hot, pulsating nightlife that doesn’t ever want to stop. This is also when a man threw a sloth at us for a picture! He then asked for 10 dollars to pay for the sloth’s food. Sloths eat better than us in Colombia!

On another day we check out the Inquisition Palace and stare at the gruesome torture tools that were used against witches and other supposed heathens. It seems like a long long time ago that people stooped that low; we are more civilized now, right?

Somehow, despite the heat, we manage to climb up to the Castillo de San Felipe, one of several military forts that protected Cartagena from pirates who wanted the gems and minerals that were being shipped to the Spanish king. The underground tunnels that run through the fort and were used for evacuation are really spooky.

At one point in the tunnels, a lightbulb blows out and we are enveloped in complete darkness. I can imagine what it would have been like to be an enemy in those tunnels having no idea where the next Spanish soldier is hiding, ready with his bayonet.

The growling of motorbikes, the smell of fried dough from street vendors, the feeling of sweat covering my body… it’s all still vivid in my mind. I don’t miss the profuse sweating but I’d tolerate it for another stroll through Cartagena.