Street Art + Food: Cartagena Edition

Visiting the city of Cartagena in Colombia is like taking a plunge in the waters of history and resurfacing to find a refreshing new view on life and the world. Here I share with you the street art and food found through the magical streets of Cartagena- a place full of wonder, deep history, and a past that shapes its modern trials. 

After a full day of art and food immersion, striking a pose! Bright colors and sandals to mix with the Cartagena hot summer heat. Don't be afraid to go BOLD while on vacation. My travel bae + partner in crime Cille is rocking a pink jumpsuit, while I opted for an orange hued sundress. 

“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill, of things unknown, but longed for still,  and his tune is heard on the distant hill,  for the caged bird sings of freedom.”  ― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill,
of things unknown, but longed for still, 
and his tune is heard on the distant hill, 
for the caged bird sings of freedom.” 
― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

The Getsemani neighborhood of Cartagena represents the city’s first freed African residents. After the crush of the Spanish, Cartagena slowly began its turn into a normal life. Getsemani represented freedom from bondage by its early settlers and soon became a working-poor neighborhood full of families and all who chose Cartagena as a home. Fast-forward to today and Getsemani continues to reinvent itself. Fighting displacement and gentrification, it's ever-defiant residents are exploring creative protests to the changing demographics of their beloved neighborhood. Through the political messages of its art, Getsemani pays homage to the African influences of its colonial era and continues to pour its heart and soul into shaping Cartagena’s history through art and storytelling.

African influences in Cartagena street art is a prominent feature in the Getsemani neighborhood.

African influences in Cartagena street art is a prominent feature in the Getsemani neighborhood.

Getting in formation! Afro-Colombian queens displayed in this mural near Getsemani. 

Getting in formation! Afro-Colombian queens displayed in this mural near Getsemani. 

We stumbled upon this beautiful mural and went for it! Being two natural chicks with a love for afros, we really connected to this piece! Cille is wearing a light denim dress and short white sneakers, while I went for a cas' look with sandals + denim and vintage tee. 

Juan Del Mar: Pargo al Caribe con Tostones, Yuca Frita, y Arroz en Coco

Juan Del Mar: Pargo al Caribe con Tostones, Yuca Frita, y Arroz en Coco

Nothing better than a romantic, candlelit dinner with your best friend! LOL. Cille got the whole scarf look down on this vacay, and she decided to throw it up around her neck to help complete her look. Don't be afraid to be edgy and experiment. Silk scarves can be such a versatile accessory for your hair, and in this case to add shock-factor to your look. 

Juan Del Mar was recommended to us by an enthusiastic and friendly Uber driver. Me, being the forever skeptic, decided to go with the flow and give it a go. We arrived to find a pleasantly lit al fresco restaurant. We were instantly in love with its romantic ambiance, live ballad music playing by a solo performer, and impeccable service by the staff. We decided to go with a bang and ordered their famous Pargo al Caribe (Caribbean Snapper). What came next was an array of flavors that took us OWT! The fish was fresh, with a hint of lime. The arroz con coco (coconut rice) is a staple in Colombia, and hit so well with the zest of the fish. In all, I highly recommend you visit this gem. The restaurant is located in the Ciudad Amurallada (The Walled City).

Quick Tip: Always add a statement piece! In this case, make it two! A wrap blouse + red stunner necklace had me feeling godly while exploring Cartagena. 

Interlocked Fishes in Getsemani neighborhood

Interlocked Fishes in Getsemani neighborhood

This street art is found in the Getsemani neighborhood of Cartagena. The artist is unknown. The message once viewed closely features fish swimming, and interlocked by plastic rings similar to those we find from a six-pack can of soda. My loose interpretation automatically geared towards our environmental challenges, and how our responsibility with nature is colliding with our use of materials such as plastic that are harming our ecosystem. Deep AF!

Taking Advice from Anthony Bourdain: La Cevicheria

Taking Advice from Anthony Bourdain: La Cevicheria

You can just see the food orgasm on my face! I’m a huge fan of Anthony Bourdain and his travel and food show on CNN "Parts Unknown". Needless to say, when we had the chance to visit a restaurant in Cartagena which had his cosign, we jumped on it!

La Cevicheria is known for its fresh ceviche, a seafood dish popular in Latin America. We arrived on a hot day after touring the city and sat to enjoy a meal al fresco with a cold beer. To my surprise, the waiter recommended the Peruvian ceviche claiming it to be their best option from any of the local Colombian ceviche dishes. His recommendation did not disappoint! Served with guac-filled tostones and maize, the Peruvian ceviche was tangy, fresh and so filling!

Sidenote: Having long braids during this trip was really a lifesaver! It was 90+ degrees each day and not having to fuss with my curls really saved me. I added some gold accessories to make my braids pop a bit more, and it really brought out my full look. 

Political Protest through Art

Political Protest through Art

This mural represents the current battle with gentrification and displacement that the residents of the neighborhood of Getsemani are facing. In this depiction, a mullatto woman holds on to a candle with an image of a home- the representation of freedom for many of the early Afro-Colombian settlers in Cartagena. 

 With Cartagena continuing to attract foreign investment and more foreign influences to the region, working-class neighborhoods like Getsemani are changing at an ever growing pace. Unfortunately, for working-class families and individuals residing in the neighborhood, high costs have not equated to higher wages. Struggling to hold on to their identity, Cartagena artists have chosen art as an outlet to depict their stories and continuous battle to remain housed.

Infused Rum Cocktails at Alquimico

Infused Rum Cocktails at Alquimico

Alquimico is located within the famous walls of the city. With its collection of infused rums and open deck rooftop, Alquimico is a must-visit in Cartagena. We enjoyed cocktails made from Passion fruit-infused rum and local Colombian bites: buñuelos (crunchy corn balls filled with cheese), arepas (a Colombian favorite with fried egg and pork inside) and meatballs with maize. Yum! 

All in all, Cartagena filled my days with art, culture and world history. I could not have imagined a more fulfilling trip. I came back feeling refreshed and replenished from my travels, and I recommend to put this beautiful city on your bucket list! What city in your travels stole your heart? 

Leave us a comment below and share with us! 

Photos: Taken with Iphone 7 Plus (My dear ole faithful Canon died halfway through our trip!) All Original Content. 

About writer: Beya J. is a city planner, interested in travel, writing + urban settings. Through her travels, Beya has been able to explore and participate in extensive cultural immersions to learn more about world religions, politics and music.
Instagram and Twitter: @plump_lips
#latinaontherise