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Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo fulfilled his dream of sending his blessed voice towards the immensity of the ocean from in between the crowded Torre del Reloj and the Camellón de los Mártires (clock tower and promenade) of Cartagena de Indias. It happened last September 5, when the whole world moved to the walled city attracted by the charm of one of the world’s greatest singers and, of course, by the lovely Cartagena de Indias.
The city is a special destination, always alive, and the venue for important cultural events –like that memorable concert – that highlight its colors. In this case, it was fuchsia, the symbol of the extensive schedule of shows and festivals that welcome visitors: The International Music Festival, the Film and TV Festivals, the Bolero and Caribbean Son Festivals, the Cartagena Jazz Festival, the Independence Feasts, and the Feasts of the Virgen de La Candelaria. The “heroic city” is music and culture throughout the whole year.
“The world will talk about the tenor who fulfilled his old dream of singing on the shores of the Caribbean, with a string of ramparts at his side, in a magical city called Cartagena de Indias. It will be an open-air concert under the custody of the September moon…” News takes place without interruption. “Thanks to its cultural offer, Cartagena is now on the tourism horizon of many Colombians and foreigners who want to participate in the city’s various festivals and activities…” Luis Ernesto Araújo, Executive President of the Cartagena de Indias Tourist Board.
Authorities and tourism operators work full time because there are always plenty of visitors to the events at the sea, on the beach, at world-class hotels, or in the old city center. Stories always surround the bulwarks and the old emblematic ramparts.
In reality, Cartagena de Indias is yellow, white, red, fuchsia, blue, brown, orange, violet and green; its attractions, likewise, have been grouped by colors. As in a child’s game, travelers must paint themselves with every color to fully experience this world heritage site.
Many people not only visited the “heroic city”; they decided to stay and build a space for their dreams. Painters, singers, actors, and writers ceased to be visitors and became hosts and authors of the history that is written every day in Cartagena de Indias for its charm, its events, and its news.
“…The history of the “heroic city”, with its streets, balconies, and walls, will be told through three participants from the American continent, each of whom will find the best the destination visited has to offer, in this case, Cartagena. They will discover each one of the colors that grace this city of the Southern Caribbean…”
Aside from being the venue for a multitude of events year round, Cartagena is in the eyes of film directors and TV producers; their satisfaction is doubled by the quality of the story told and by the pride of working in that city. Discovery Travel & Living’s production was one of the most recent and, surely, by the time these lines are read, many meters of film will have been shot on the streets of Cartagena.
“With the shooting of a reality show by the name of ‘One Hundred Hours’, the Cartagena of colors will be a main character of the Discovery Travel and Living international channel".It is the interest of those who allowed themselves to be captured or those who wish to ascertain that everyday life in the walled city is seductive. The strength of its sea breeze and the color in every corner turn it into a magical destination that begs for experiences to be repeated. There is always something new to do or discover.
Cartagena is a historical city, a pioneer in the independence of the American continent, yet cosmopolitan to a certain degree, because all its visitors feel satisfied by the tourism, amusement, and business possibilities. Due to the continuous presence of travelers, the walled city shows itself as an active, thriving city, yet without having lost the aura of romanticism that envelops it.
It is possible to devote a day to visiting luxury jewelry stores or the shops of acknowledged designers. Or, a day could be dedicated to enter the depths of the mazes and passageways of old palaces and forts like San Felipe de Barajas. Another possibility is to relax to the sound of the waves on the beaches of Bocagrande. Evenings are for partying in festive tropical discos or for strolling along the old streets and symbolic plazas – a much more relaxed activity.
Simply put: something is always happening in Cartagena de Indias, whether by the action of the sea, the breeze, the waves, the poet’s verses, the writer’s prose, the singer’s lyrics, or the melody of orchestras. Regardless of whether it is a film or music festival, or the arrival of a cruise, any excuse is valid for becoming immersed in the colors of Cartagena and the friendliness of its inhabitants, who work unflinchingly for the progress of their city and for making it a priority of world travelers.
It is pleasing to know that many people around the world are eager to have a Colombian entry seal stamped on their passport, and just as pleasing, to foresee the success of the TV program mentioned above. And it is equally satisfying to recount the success of tenor Placido Domingo’s presentation from in between the Torre del Reloj and the Camellón de los Mártires after fulfilling his old dream of singing on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. What better place is there in a city where any plaza or walled corner could be the best of all stages?
The route used by Joe Arroyo, Cartagenas’s famous composer and interpreter, when he dreamed about becoming a singer, was the same one over which Plácido Domingo’s bel canto traveled. History has a way of repeating itself.
As a colophon to this story, we would like to add that our intention was not to narrate old news, but to cite examples for restating that this heroic, invincible city, for whatever motive, reason, or excuse, is a necessary destination for sentiments, awareness, and reason. Cartagena de Indias – the name itself sounds almost like a rhyme, almost like a song.