As an attentive fan of architecture, one of Two Who Trek especially enjoys the visual study of Spanish colonial architecture. During our nearly month-long stay, we visited many sites with our local Spanish instructors or profesores. In and around El Centro Histórico de Cartagena de Indias are many splendid buildings or edificios, both grand and typical. Continue reading
One day Joe was walking through the Historic Center of Cartagena with Louis, a university student who was attempting (in vain) to teach Joe Spanish and also help him find interesting photographs in the city. As they wandered through the Plaza de San Pedro, Louis pointed to a neatly dressed man seated under a tree. “See that gentleman over there? That is how all business keepers use to dress — what we would call business casual now.” The man had well pressed clothes — a dress shirt and dress trousers.
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.
Colombia is home to about 20% of the world’s birds. The bird immortalized in painting and sculpture around Cartagena is the Maria Mulata. A medium-sized bird of iridescent black or brown, Maria Mulata is neither blackbird or raven. Maria Mulata’s official name is the great- tailed grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus).
The story of Maria Mulata is a traditional tale shared with Two Who Trek by several local residents. Long ago, in the barrio of Getsemani, people and exotic animals co-existed. One of the animals was a vividly colored bird called Maria Mulata. When a raging fire overtook the neighborhood, Maria Mulatas carried the people to safety. The people were saved and forever grateful to their deliverers. Discolored by the fire and smoke, the bird’s colorful feathers remain blackened to this day but with proper sunlight, we can still see a hint of Maria Mulata’s former plumage. Continue reading
Just as in the movie quoted above, a notable sight on many entry doors of Cartagena buildings was the Door Knocker or Aldabas de Puerta. Historically gracing the front doors of fine homes since ancient times in Greece and Rome, a door knocker traditionally denotes the association of the inhabitant. Door knockers in El Centro fall into four basic categories: Continue reading
Staying cool in the heat
Clothing should be practical and aesthetically pleasing. In Cartagena, the available options meet that criteria and more. Here, clothing flows and the textures and patterns make it fun to wear.
People of the Americas have a long pottery-making tradition, predating the European arrival. The oldest known ceramics were found in communities along the Ecuadorian Pacific coast and were made 5,000 to 6,000 years ago. The time-honored process is still essentially the same. Dig up some clay, mix it with water, form it into objects and fire it in an oven or kiln.
In the studio of Eduardo Vega, today’s ceramic pottery is functional and exquisitely formed. After studying in Europe, Vega returned to Cuenca and developed a unique style, deeply rooted in Ecuadorian history. Continue reading
Two Who Trek let the wool get pulled over their eyes
One day at school Two Who Trek and their teachers were talking with other teachers and students when an idea started to take place. Why not play hockey for a day? Because there are no ice rinks in Cuenca, we all decided to play hookey instead, head to a neighboring town, and take a tour of place where artisans make woolen products by hand. We picked a date and decided to rely on public transportation to get there rather than take taxis.
Riding on the public bus system is an event all its own. Travel light and have lots of change. For less than $1, you can be transported from the center of old town Cuenca to the outlying towns. See vendors boarding the bus, selling everything from chocolate bars at 3 for $1, to an organic panacea of uncertain origin for curing most physical maladies. The vendors give you a sample of their wares as they walk through the bus aisle and give their speech. If you choose not to buy, politely and firmly return the merchandise when they are at the end of the presentation. Continue reading