The Smells of Colombia

I Smell

Tangy salt air from the breezes gliding over the ocean, envelope this coastal city of Cartegena, established early in the1500’s. Its advantageous location made it a repeated target by pirates with a nose for the smell of plunder.

Staying 16 floors up, we are saved from the car exhaust of so much traffic below. Instead, the pungent sea air surrounds us from 2 sides– Cartegena Bay and the Carribean Sea and I am reminded of all the many shores that I have been privileged to enjoy. I have always loved hanging out at marinas– a place for characters with never ending stories to tell.

Our hostess offered to take us where the locals buy fresh seafood. That fishy smell was quite a heavy dose, to say the least. And it gave us a peek into how tough life is for many people here. It is said that Cartgena has two faces–we just experienced the local one.

The mix of aromas from the open-air markets and street vendors can be over powering. Meat cooking on portable grills dominate the air. More subtle are the tantalizing aromas from the fresh fruit stands, offering bowls of delicious strawberries, mixed with chunks of sweet smelling papaya, thick skinned bananas, fragrant pineapple, juicy melons and other creative combinations upon which they drizzle a sugary, white syrupy topping. Is your mouth watering yet?

The flowers in and around the countryside of Medellin smell sweet enough to lure the bees into a drunken stupor. The contrast of these two cities, enriches my appreciation of its spicy bouquet.