Work fascinates Two Who Trek — we can sit and watch it for hours!

Today Two Who Trek takes a look at individuals working in Cartagena.  There are businesses that employ many people, such as banks and manufacturing facilities.  But our focus is on the people who fend for themselves — in short, the individual entrepreneur.   What are some of the jobs that people do on their own to survive, to put food on the table?  We found many interesting examples.

Generally when photos are shown of Cartagena, most of the pictures come from the Centro Historico (historic center) of the city. However, Cartagena is a large city, with many skyscrapers outside of the ancient city walls.  Well dressed business people are on the streets during the day.  The University of Cartagena within the city walls provides educational opportunities.  We saw workers doing jobs that are common to many countries:


We are guessing Colombia doesn’t an OSHA department


Interestingly, there was no Coca-Cola truck anywhere around.  We have no idea from where he came

But as we walked, we saw more folks who were obviously working on their own.  Because most of these people work directly on the streets, it’s hard to miss seeing them and their influence on daily life.

Notice these two men with manual typewriters:


Legal services on the street

They are providing legal documents such as income certificates, balance statements, profit and loss statements, and loan papers for citizens, usually at a low cost.  The man on the right is looking for a sample for the woman partially shown on the right.  Customers sit in the chairs and wait as the men painstakingly type out the documents on the manual typewriters.  No computers here.

We met an enterprising young man who provided a communication service, cell phone rental by the call:


Need to make a call?  Rent a cell phone!

He had several cell phones and would rent them by the minute or by the call, and the phones were generally in use.  Prices were about $.30 USD per minute.

Skilled trades were also practiced on the street:


Watchmakers and Jewelers


Another watch repair shop and a belt seller

Often, many of these little plywood boxes, all practicing the same trade, would be located side by side.  Each box is a person’s office and store combined.  When we were taking these photos, the temperature was over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  Imagine how hot these “tiendras” must be inside.  Yet, most had someone present, either working on something or waiting for a customer.

Like businesses tend to locate next to each other.  One building was filled with individual optical shops:


At least a dozen different optical shops are in this photo

Most of the shops had someone who would make the glasses on the spot.  However, the offices were very cramped, like this one:


Opticians at work.  Customers wait in the aisle between offices.

Outside we came upon a beautiful flower market.  Again, this was made of many individual stalls:


An outdoor flower market


Typical size of the individual booths

Next up, a locksmith with a key to longevity.


Categories: art, artisan, artistic, blog, Cartagena, Colombia, flowers, food preparation, making, manufacturing, markets, people, photos, shop, store, tallar, traditional, work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Work fascinates Two Who Trek — we can sit and watch it for hours!

  1. Very interesting. I always have looked individuals marketeers and only view the whole. Next trip down south I’ll have a better eye. OSHA would have a field day.

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