Yes, it is all about the food! So why not pay a visit to Cartagena’s labyrinthine central market?
The market is huge, and has endless stalls of fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. Yes, the fish is fresh – but stick your nose really close and look for clear eyes, just to be sure!
Buying plantains for dinner. Having a hard time understanding the Columbian Spanish and the money in Columbia, 1 USD is 3,000 pesos or 1 DDK is 470 pesos. In the right picture you see the coins, and there was different kinds of 200 pesos coins, just to make it more difficult. The bills are from 1,000 pesos to 50,000 pesos.
We looked for Cecilia’s restaurant, which sometimes serves up river turtle, shark and cow’s tongue – and we found it!
BUT – no river turtle, shark or cow’s tongue this day. Esben was very disappointed! Instead we had local seafood. The flavors are amazing, and even the rice, are not just rice!
Everything is full of flavor, and it is the one of the most tasteful and delicious meal we have had on this trip. Two plates for just 23,000 pesos (7,63 USD), and the portions were big.
Before getting started…
But at the same time the Mercado Bazurto is also known to be one of the most dirty markets.
During our adventure it is not always about the tourist attraction. For both Esben and me it is important to se both sides: the locals vs. tourists, the beautiful vs. dirty, the reality vs. vacation and rich vs. poor. We want to know just a little bit about how the country really work or in many ways doesn’t work. All the countries we have been in so far one thing stands out, it is the the big contrasts within the country it self. Through Mexico, Central America and so far Columbia things just work in a different way than back home. We remind ourselves that we are a part of that when we travel, because we are not a vacation, we are living a daily life on the road with both ups and downs.
The contrasts are everywhere – a cheap snack at Mercado Bazurto vs. the fresh fruits in the old town of Cartagena?
On our way home we bought mamoncillo or Spanish lime. Mamoncillo are most often eaten fresh, right out of the skin. To eat a Mamoncillo, bite into or puncture the thin skin so it can be peeled back to expose the pulp. The best way to eat it is to pop the whole fruit into your mouth and suck the pulp from the seed. The seeds can be roasted, and eaten like chestnuts. We love them… we haven’t tried to roast the seeds, but maybe we will try that next time.
A little extra the nutritional nerds like me: Mamoncillo are a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as calcium, phosphorus, and fiber. The small fruits also contain tryptophan, which helps produce serotonin. Mamoncillo are also a good source of phenolic compounds, which act as important antioxidants. The fruit pulp has been used to help treat digestive issues and hypertension in the Caribbean (Source: http://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Mamoncillo_Spanish_Lime_9146.php).
Yes, we spend 23,000 pesos (7,63 USD) on one meal, but in comparison we got all this (left picture) for almost the same amount of money (30,000 pesos/10 USD) including a piece of chicken and two fish (right picture). We added a loaf of bread and had food for about three days just by cooking our own food.
Dinner is served: fried fish and plantain served with homemade chunky salsa and toasted bread
After a week in Cartagena we were ready to leave the ocean, go to dryer land, higher altitude and lower temperatures.