Summer Vacation 2016 started early this year, as Janine and Denise from Couchsurfing Atlanta arrived mid-June for a week in Cartagena, Colombia. After greeting them at the airport, and within a few hours of their arrival, Denise and I discovered we worked together at a technology company over 14 years ago, thus concluding that the world is indeed the size of a walnut.
Welcoming a third Couchsurfer, Deena, a few days later, we joined our friend Jésus at his newly-formed Lingo Cartagena language exchange, meeting more travelers and multi-linguists, enjoying the atmosphere of Beiyú Slow Food and Coffee in the Getsemani neighborhood. Following the meeting, we headed out for some street food, finding pincho, also referred to as chuzo, served hot from a cart by Brayan, who posed for photos with us and his dinner-on-a-stick delicacy.
On a Friday evening, departure from school for the summer was celebrated by riding a Chiva with local company Chocolate Tours, whose jocular emcee and festive on-board band delighted its party-going customers.
From the gathering point near La Caponera, to the passing of rum and cokes along Laguito, to the stop on Las Murallas where reliable vendor Wilmer provided cold drinks and photo props, the Chiva tour provided yet another fun night out. Ending the tour at Discoteca Taboo, we embraced new friends to bailando the night away.
On Sunday, flying a Delta jet to Charleston, South Carolina meant nine days in the pretty, warm Lowcountry, savoring traditional southern food like irresistible shrimp and grits, boiled peanuts and plenty of sweet tea. A visit to James Island’s Bohemian Bull one late afternoon brought an incredible crab cake “burger” with fried green tomato, arugula and a spicy-sweet side of slaw.
No visit to “The Island” is complete without several haphazardly-organized meetings with lifelong friends who pick up, and this was no exception. After a few days exploring newly-opened establishments and perusing the aisles of whatever mercado has replaced the long-gone Piggly Wiggly, the slowless of the South took over like kudzu crawling on a curbside mailbox.
Fortunately, standard places like Charleston Crab House on the Wappoo Creek provide excellent space for catching up and exchanging stories since our last rendez-vous. Colombia was playing the USA in the semi-finals of CopaAmerica 2016, and several bars on Folly Beach were happy to display the game on their big screens. Finalmente, after 90+ minutes of tension, Ojála! Colombia won, 1-0.
As vacation time in Charleston came to an end, the roundup began: embracing lifelong friends, enjoying new connections, waiting a (disappointing) hour for (always delicious) tacos with Bam sauce at Roadside Seafood, breathing in the smell of pluff mud marshes and watching as salt water brine boiled green peanuts, confirming the overall conclusion that all senses lead to summer.