We left for Cartegena around noonish the tenth of feb. It was an easy enough flight. When we steped off the plan it was Hello Sun and Heat! The air was fresh and a sweet change from Bogotá smog. We were greeted with a breez along with the warmth that you can only
get on the coast. It isn’t a salty breez but heavy with humidity and refreshing coolness amidst the sun. After recovering my backpack We exited the bagage claim and were met by Estivan, who was holding a sign saying “Episcpal Church”. No doubts that this was our ride.
We get to the Church and got into our modest rooms. the room consists of two metal bunkbeads each with a five or six inch matress that on first test didn’t hold up to the test. I figured it wouldn’t work with metal bars agains my back. So, with ease I slid the mattress from the top bead ontop of my mattress, much better (not to say I wasn’t still missing my bed back in Bogotá). Yea, yeah, ok so I am a bit of a pansy, I am ok with that =.).
After we literally droped our stuff down we headed out to explor a bit. We walked around the block that surrounds the church.
Thursday we made a day in el Centro. This is the most turistic part of Cartegena with shops and restaurants catering to those with money, but thankfully we were able to scout out places for those of us who are less free-spending. We began our day with a walk down past the church before we caught a cab to take us the rest of the way. Within the first few hours of our morning - afternoon jaunt I got toasted, worse than I had known since I was ten-years old or so, I mean red as a lobster and crispy fried. That is with buying sunblock and applying it around midday.
Oh, well. That night we attended the thrusday evening service. It was amazing. I am always tacken a'back when I step into a new parish. I love getting to meet people when we are all there for the purpose of giving time to God. It is just a different and very special environment that lends itself to forming a comunity. Father Rafael gave a rockin' sermon! I really wish I could record the sermons I have been hearing. The priests are so very full of the spirit and are not afraid to raise a few eyebrows.
The next day we went to el Centro. That is the central tourist market. It is full of tighly knit streets lined with Colonial architecture. That day I got to wear shorts for the first time. I love shorts and dresses. That was a real treat. There are a lot of pirctures from these two days. Friday we went to Playa Blanka. I have never seen a Caribean beach before. It is gor
eous with aqua-emeraled colored waters, white sand and everything the perfect temperature. Unfortunantly it wasn't the relaxing day I was really hopeing for. The thing is that this is a place that depend
s soely upon tourists. I was practicly swarmed with folks touching me to sell massages, pressing jewlery of all sorts in my way and casting guilt trips on me that if I don't buy from them their children will suffer. I almost lost it! In fact I did a bit. This all occured within the first hour I was there and the rest of the time I was so upset and tense I wasn't able to enjoy it much, that is untill after a really great lunch of fried fish and coconut rice. They have a saying that I picked up in Ecuador and Colombia. "Full stomach, content heart" that is so very true.
That night we ate the best Arepas with cheese I have had since arriving in Colombia. So I havn't explained much about the food, mainly because I am not very excited about it. All except for the fresh tropical fruit juice and arepas. Arepas actually remind me a lot of my grandmother, they seem quite southern, like hoe-cacks. It is a patty of very very finly ground corn (with fresh or corn flour I am not sure). It has a soft texture and with a sharp white cheese, not even chocolate cake can beat it.
Saturday the Conneticut folks arrived. I knew they were going to be a fun crowed from the start. That day we had dinner with the folks who had arrived shared some stories and walked around El Centro a bit. Unfortunately I have been less than laxed on my journaling so my memory is a bit fuzzy.
Sunday we all attended service together. The Conneticut group loved it! There were two or three of the ordained priests participating in the Eucarist and Bishop Laura. Talk about language immersion! They all did great. I was very impressed when Bishop Laura, who took hold of blessings in Spanish. I know it ment a lot to the people.