Two lovers write their own love story on a magical night in the old city
Imagine a place where magic was real. Cartagena was a place that embodied both fantasy and reality. It was a city rich in culture and lost between fantasy and reality. There had been so many stories about this place. When dreaming abut Cartagena, I think about the beautiful words of author Gabriel Garcia Marquez – what matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how your remember it. For us, it was a place where lovers could write their own love stories.
Our night had begun with a ride on a lively chiva bus. The loud, joyous cheers of both locals and tourists had been singing their own chants in their drunken stupor, riding through the night. My boyfriend and I had spent the day exploring the city, sitting out on the shores of Bocagrande while enjoying fresh seafood and a cold beer. From the moment we touched down on the city, we indulged in everything Cartagena has to offer. We put our drinks in the air and our contagious laughter vibrated into the streets. Everyone was lost in the moment and so were we. Our hands were looked together and join into the festive drinking songs with the rest of the bus. The party had just begun but it already felt like we had been driving around for hours through Bocagrande. You could see the city skyline from the water. I watched how the light danced off the dark ocean. The small bus whipped through the streets as our bodies moved with it but the only thing on our minds was the spirits that were fueling us.
We left the city center and began to enter the Old City. The bus dropped us off a nearby bar for the second party of the night. The aromas of fried arepas filled my nostrils as they handed us our food and savor its taste, washed down by more local beer. Some people went inside to continue their night of dancing. We had other plans. He grabs my hand and wandered off into the cobble streets. The Old City had become a playground at night. The local bars were filled with patrons with a thin veil of smoke and the sizzling sounds of meat cooking on an open grill of the street carts. We were both excited. It was an open party in the streets and lively clubs around us. That’s when I first heard it. The faint sounds of drum in the background of the people around us. I didn’t know where it was coming from. We both had could feel the faint pounding is the distance. Where could it be coming from? It was calling us, commanding me to follow it. We walked into the narrow side streets following the sound of roaring drums. It was as if it was calling out to us. It was leading us to an open square. A modest amount people had gathered around two men pounding their hands into the drums. No one had moved. We were still, our hearts moving with the rhythm. My grip on his hand grew tighter. A strange energy had taken hold of our bodies and I closed my eyes. The rest of the crowd was also still. The rhythm grew faster. Our hands still locked together. The sounds reached its climax and stopped. When we opened our eyes, they were gone. Everyone was walking around as if nothing had ever happened. We looked around but they had disappeared, their presence evaporating into the air. Was it all a dream? Was any of it real at all? We walked out of the open square, closer to the old fortress illuminated by a sea of soft lights. I looked around and everything had gone back to normal.
Just at that moment, a crack of thunder could be heard from above. The night became blanketed in neon lights. It was a fireworks show. My boyfriend embraced me tightly. I laid my head against his chest as we looked up to the sky together. The beautiful display of lights was further proof of the magic of this place. I closed my eyes again and could faintly hear the chanting of the tribal percussion again. It was the spirit of the Old City speaking, telling its story through the raw drumming. We had both fallen in love with Cartagena and all of wonder. The memory of the people and our experiences here would give birth to our own love story of two lovers who found magic in the Old City.