If you’re not sure what to expect when planning a trip to Colombia, you’ve already got a wide selection of handy references in popular culture to give you an impression of the place before leaving. One place that pops up time after time is Cartegena, the colonial port town that sits on the Caribbean coast. If you’d like to get excited about a Colombia vacation, try any of the following four options.
Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ Novel
Colombia’s most famous literary export, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, spent most of his early years in Cartegena. Even though the city is not explicitly mentioned (dubbed a “Caribbean port town”) it doesn’t take a genius to see that Marquez is writing about Cartegena in Love In The Time Of Cholera, one of his most famous books that became a film adaptation in 2007. Weaving a complex narrative that twists and turns amongst the city’s “steamy and sleepy streets”, Marquez will have you ready to book your ticket, even if the novel is set between the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.
The Mission – The Award Winning Robert De Niro Movie
Set in the 1750’s, The Mission chronicles the experiences of a Jesuit missionary in the jungles of South America. Showered with awards, The Mission won the Palme d’Or and the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. Filming took place in Cartegena and Brazil, so for an introduction to the city via an award winning film you should check this one out.
Smuggler’s Blues – Miami Vice’s Popular Episode
It’s only so long before the drug references creep into any mention of Colombia, but what better way to introduce them than through one of Miami Vice’s most popular episodes. The classic Eighties cop show goes on the road as Crockett and Tubbs are recruited by the DEA to track down a local law-enforcer who is murdering drug dealers and their families in cold blood. The episode takes its name from a song by musician Glenn Fray, who appears in the episode as a laid-back aircraft pilot, Jimmy Cole. If you can look up from your well-bitten nails, you’ll see that most of the filming takes place in Cartagena, Colombia…
The Red Herring – Romancing The Stone
A popular offering from the mid-Eighties, you’ve probably seen Robert Zemikis’ Romancing The Stone at one point or another. Kathleen Turner’s big screen break and Michael Douglas’ re-introduction to the movie-going public, the film enjoyed box office success. For those without a viewing, the film follows romantic novelist Jean Wilder who is drawn down to Colombia when her sister is held to ransom in…yup, you’ve guessed it…Cartegena, Colombia. However, before you dig out the VCR player and that old dusty tape, you should know that the majority of filming took place in Vercruz, Mexico. You’re about as likely to see a Colombian vista as you are an appearance by Indiana Jones. Stacking up the reasons not to see this movie, Douglas pronounces the name of the town Cartegena (“Cartehenya”), as opposed to the correct “Cartehena”, a source of much annoyance amongst locals.
You may not be visiting 18th century Colombia or flying down with the boys from Miami Vice, but you can certainly afford to associate yourself with a little excitement and romance that will definitely be a part of your Colombia vacation if you decide to visit Cartagena.