Fresno Bee

Colorful Cartagena

Jul 08-- The day's swelter dissipates in twilight as a makeshift bar appears in the cobbled colonial plaza.

8 de julio de 2009

Locals sidle up for a cup of espresso -- a cozy version of the cafe scene a few feet away, where out-of-towners sip daiquiris and snack on gourmet pizza.

The mariachis start strumming, followed by a troop of cumbia dancers, and there's a sense of an evening shared. When a mime in whiteface opens a taxi door and slides out the opposite side behind the couple just exiting, everyone giggles -- even the locals who have seen it often before.

"This is the stuff I miss when I go back to the States -- the little plazas, the way people just hang out," says Vivian Gloria of Miami, sitting at the table next to ours. She and husband Eddie are visiting her parents, who have an apartment here.

I'm tempted to check my phone's GPS. Can this really be Colombia?
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