Barcelona, Spain: Barrio Gótico

As previously mentioned, the hop-on/hop-off bus dropped us off at Barrio Gótico, which is also known as the Gothic Quarter. At one point, this area was a Roman village, and some of this great history can still be found here. There are beautiful cathedrals, churches, restaurants, and shops—all of which can be found in the 2,000 year old Gothic Quarter and any of the side streets you may find yourself walking along.

My sister and I stopped for churros y chocolate (churros, also known as a fried dough pastry with chocolate) since this is said to be a must in Spain. When the dessert is ready, you receive a plate full of churros and a cup of warm, melted chocolate, and you dip your churros in the chocolate, and enjoy!

Once we had enough to eat, we continued walking until we came across another bakery that had been highly recommended—Ecribá. We ordered a cremadet, which is a caramelized custard filled puff pastry. Once we were stuffed and had enough to eat, we continued walking around outside, until we came across an exciting parade taking place nearby.

One of the shops we passed in the quarter was a store for jamón ibérico, or cured ham, which happens to be very big throughout the country. We saw an employee cutting slices of ham (pictured below), which is exactly how the locals do it at home as well. We found another beautiful church in the area with a great sign that stood out to me. It read, “Caigas donde caigas. Allí estaremos,” which roughly translates to: Fall where you fall; we’ll be there.

As we turned onto a side street, we walked past another sign that seemed to be a campaign of some sort which read, “I’m doing nothing.” Underneath, a question was written, “How many things would you do if you were not scared?” This is definitely food for thought that many of us could benefit from taking the time to think about.

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Day 2 In Cartagena, Colombia: Canoeing In La Boquilla

Upon waking up in the morning, we began our day by heading out to La Boquilla, a fisherman village in Cartagena where individuals from class zero and class one live (the two lowest socioeconomic classes in the city). La Boquilla is considered to be a fisherman village because the main activity for locals here is fishing. Fishing is so great in this area because the ocean is connected to the swamp, so local fisherman are able to catch fish from both areas of water. If you were to go to the village at 5:30am, you could purchase caught fish that are still alive, swim in the local water, and go prepare your freshly caught lunch.

There is a lot of construction taking place around La Boquilla, especially the building of hotels, so the locals have worked out a deal with the government. The deal is that hotels building around La Boquilla must employ 20 percent of their staff from the area. In addition, the must either feed these individuals once a month, or educate them in order to help give back to this community.

La Boquilla is known for having the biggest natural reserve in Cartagena. Mangroves here grow up and down, similar to the path of a circle. This is because when the mangrove grows downwards, it creates a new mangrove tree that continuously repeats the process. You can also tell the color of the mangrove by looking at the bottom of the trunk. The colors can be black, red, or white.

Something interesting about La Boquilla is the fact that numerous members of the community come together to raise money for one another and for their neighborhood. This is evident in the fact that some members make the canoes by hand, others row the canoes when tourists come to town, and a select few are in charge of organizing visits from tour groups in Cartagena. These canoe rides, offered on what is called a bote canoa chalupa (or small canoe boat), are a main source of income to the locals in La Boquilla, and they take great pride in the work that they collectively do.