Friday, October 26, 2007

Cartagena for lunch!

Richard and Debra and ourselves went into the centre for lunch one day. We started at San Marco square where the palenqueras women are selling their fruits. The fruit is a sideline as their main income comes from the charge to take their photos. One american dollar per picture! These women are called palenqueras because they are descended from the slaves that escaped into the mountains and formed communities there called palenques. These towns keep their own customs and language even today.
We met another group in equally colorful and interesting costumes. These young men are "missionaries" for the Catholic church. They bring a statue of the Virgin Mary to villages in the countryside as inspiration. The leader was a young man from Florida but all the others were natives of Columbia. This is one of the rejuvination projects of the late Pope John and according to our young american, these groups work all over the world. It's very hard to decide which restaurant to eat at. Do we want to sit out in one of the lovely squares, or at a table just inside a charming arch? How about a quiet courtyard with a fountain, or a balconey overlooking the square? Decisions, decisions... Many types of cuisine are available here as well; we have seen Chinese, Italian, Spanish, Mexican, Arab, Israel and French. We settle for the balconey with Columbian and continental dishes and watch the action down below as we eat a great lunch accompanied by some Chilean vino rojo.
Wine and liquors are fairly expensive here (that bottle of Chilian house wine was $22); beer and rum are the general choice. The very best restaurants downtown have similar prices to New York city but it is possible to have a wonderful lunch in a lovely restaurant for $10 (dinner entries run run $9 - 20. In one of the city's cafeterias or small restaurants they offer a meal of the day at lunch for $2 to $2.50 which includes soup, either meat/chicken/fish and a selection of veggies/salad. Breakfast is usually $1.50 and includes coffee, fresh fruit, juice, eggs and bread and/or plantains. Needless to say, we've been eating out a lot!

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