Cartagena de Indias, casually referred to as Cartagena, is the beauty queen of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Splashed with bright colours, Colonial architecture, kilometres of historic defence walls surrounding the city, and lively music wafting through the sultry Caribbean air, there’s something special about this magical city that has to be felt to be understood. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its “strategic location, this eminent example of the military architecture of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries was also one of the most important ports of the Caribbean,” Cartagena is Colombia’s second most popular city with visitors.
Over the past four years, Latin America is a destination that has been enticing and enchanting me the more I visit and learn about it. The spectacular cultures, long and intense histories, incredible food, warm people, world-renowned cultural and architectural sites, and beautiful beaches are just a few of the reasons that I always find my daydreams wandering back to the Southern Hemisphere. Each country, from the top of Mexico to the tip of Chile’s slender finger, has bountiful reasons tempting me to visit. After my first solo trip to Guatemala in spring 2018, and a trip to El Salvador that fell through, Colombia was at the forefront of my travel wish list, and would become the first country I would visit in South America.
Have you ever had the feeling of a hazy memory, a faint image on the edges of your mind that may have really happened, or that perhaps was just a pleasant dream, but you have no way of distinguishing fact from fantasy? A remembrance so close that you can just about grab it, but then it just as easily slips away? The calm, wide lake, surrounded by mountains on either side, the water lapping at the shore with the sepia-toned sun kissing everything it touches has been that memory for me for years, and this summer I was finally able to grasp it again in Invermere, British Columbia.
Invermere is 585km southwest of my hometown, Edmonton, or, in Canadian terms, an almost-6-hour drive without stops. My boyfriend E and I had been dating for a couple of months and wanted to take a fun summer road trip together, but not necessarily to the typical hot spots of Banff and Jasper that are closer to home for us. I had been to Radium Hot Springs and Fairmont Hot Springs, nestled in the Kootenays, in the summer of 2005, and had a feeling that my mystery dream lake was out that way. Planning a trip to the mountains in the summertime typically requires a bit of advanced planning, at least in terms of booking accommodations before everything sells out. Since we were booking only three weeks out, we let the availability of reasonably priced rooms guide us and ended up booking an Airbnb in Invermere. Invermere is tucked in between the two resort towns, but not yet a tourist destination in its own right.