“Are you prepared for ‘Hot as Hell’ Cartagena” Pablo González, director of “La Ruta Colombia Parada del Caribe” race series asked me over whatssapp 2 days before we travel to Colombia. Winter is comming.. in Europe and we already experienced the first days of night frost. Hot as Hell sounds like a present to me… 🙂
We don’t realy know what to expect from Cartagena but Pablo says “prepare to be amazed!” He didn’t say a word to much. When you set foot inside the old historic centre of Cartagena, it’s like entering the movie set of “pirates of the Caribbean” with the difference that this is no fake movie set… The city, established by the spaniards in 1533, is filled with authentic spanish colonial buildings. But as Pablo warned us already, the first thing you experience arriving in the city is the heat…. it’s like being covered in a moisty warm blanket, day and night.. But we don’t complain. Shorts and flipflops are more comfy than a winter coat. We are extremely lucky La Ruta is being held in the same weekend the independance of Cartagena is being celebrated. This is truly a once in a lifetime must see!! The city is filled with lots of colorfull parades and never-ending dancing and parties, typical south american chaos in the streets.
Describing what it’s like to be present at these festivities is almost impossible this is something you have to ‘feel’ by being there. If you ever have the chance … don’t miss out on it. Just be prepared for all the crazyness in the streets. On Saturday we leave the old city of Cartagena and move in to an appartment in La Boquila just outside Cartagena to prepare for the event. The Course of this edition of La Ruta is a wide an fairly good road that leads from Cartagena to Barranquilla. Just before Barranquilla there is a turning point where the participants of the 180 kilometres turn back to head fort he finish area at Playa Manzanillo.
On race day the sun is blistering hot and that’s the big ‘killer’ today. Almost 3000 cyclists showed up, and they are realy suffering in these temperatures and humidity. Their reward comes at the beautifull finish area at Playa Manzanillo. Just a few metres from the ocean, a beautifull set up has been realized for all the participants to enjoy their accomplischment and have a good time with some good food, cold drinks and music.
You can tell a lot of effort and hard work has been put into this event and it’s nice to see that a lot of participants stay at the finish area the rest of the day to enjoy and chill out. Completely differtent than most of the european events where people tend to leave as soon as they have finished…
Maybe that has to do with the lack of some vibrating salsa music at the finisch …. 😉
After a long and hot day we arrive sattisfied in our apparment in the evening, with a major sunburn … The next day we leave La Boquila, after just 2 days we miss the old city of Cartagena already and decide to stay our last 2 days there… La Boquila is more of a residential area with huge appartment buildings, the old city is a hundred time more pleasant to be staying. We enjoy a few days of stolling and photographing the old city streets (it’s a photographer’s heaven) before heading back to cold europe, and our minutly organized life, what a huge contrast with lively Cartagena..
Colombia you stole our hearts, again!
Text: Lenny Verhoeven
Photos: Lenny Verhoeven/Marco Kolleppel