Black Safe

Objectively Black does South America – Pt. 2

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the second part of our South America trip in Cartagena de Indias more commonly known as ‘Cartagena’ Colombia. When most of us hear Colombia, we immediately think about “Narcos”. And while that show is one of the best series that Netflix has ever produced, we knew that the show was not at all an accurate representation of the current state of Colombia. Still, we made sure to do our research before we went. But we found out it was that Cartegena is very safe and makes for a great stop during your trip across South America. There are no special visas required for either Peru or Columbia and although it helps to speak espanol, many of the local people speak English.

Once again we took Avianca Airlines into Columbia. Now I don’t know if this is normal for flying into Columbia from Peru or if this was just a rare occurrence, but our flight was turbulent. I’m pretty sure the entire plane was making their peace with God at a certain point. Thankfully we made it to our first stop in Cali. We had a quick layover where we enjoyed a hamburger made with actual ham. They also provided a pre-mixed mayonnaise and ketchup condiment usually in the States you have to make that by yourself. We appreciate that touch.

The very first thing we noticed was how HOT it was. When we left Peru it was 36 degrees. We were wearing coats, but just a few hours later we were in 90-degree weather. Our next goal was to find a cab. And to answer your question, yes Uber works down here. Our Uber driver showed up in a completely tinted out Honda Civic with a ridiculous spoiler, Tokyo Drift style. At that moment we looked at each other and questioned whether or not we should enter this car. We’ve heard some horror stories about taxis and even Uber’s so so we were jokingly a little weary. Nevertheless, we are men. So without question, we got in that car wondering if we would ever see the states again. Needless to say, our Uber driver was awesome and gave our Spanish-speaking friend some tips about where to the best food was, the tourist locations, and even some unsolicited tips on picking the right hooker… I swear it was unsolicited. Having been in South America for several days now, driving through another city was no big deal. I mean seriously, at this point we felt like locals. I was even speaking some Spanish via osmosis. I guess that if I had stayed or a good month or so, I’d be fluent in the language.

Anyway, after the two flights from Peru, we were pretty exhausted so when we got to our hotel within the walled city. (Hotel Casa de la Trinidad) Note: Make sure that when you do travel to Cartegena you stay in the walled city. We did wander out by mistake, nothing happened, but you want to stay within the confines. It’s just safer. We crashed for a few hours and by the time we got up, it was night time in Cartegena so we began to explore the city. When you are within the walled City you can’t go wrong. Our hotel room was right next to several restaurants and Nightclubs in the “Old Town” and we felt safe in every spot. We passed by a spot called Restaurante Coroncoro and decided to have some food before we drank. The carne asada hit and become our dish of choice for the remainder of the trip. Once we had eaten we decided to walk avoid for a bit and get a feel for the vibe. The streets were packed with tourists and locals. Salsa music was blasting through seemingly every doorway. It seemed like everyone in the city was partying. The very first spot we hit was a small bar called the “Tipsy deer”. We grabbed a few ‘cervezas’ and had a nice conversation with the 2 bartenders there. If you ever find your way to the tipsy deer, tell them that we sent you. We also noticed a club across the street called Cafe Havana. We heard the live music playing while we passed by and asked about the cover which was 30k Columbian with is about $10. We decided that we would come back on a different night since the band was already in full swing and we didn’t want to miss any of the show.

So we continued our night and headed towards ‘Plaza de los Coches’. Fair warning, if you come here at night time you will be surrounded by escorts and savages trying to broker deals. Seriously it was like wall street up in there. Needless to say, we don’t pay for it. Sex is better free(ish) yall know what I mean? So we continued. I’m kind of angry at myself for not taking more pictures of the nightlife but we didn’t want to stick even further out. Pulling out my phone while the block is lit just never occurred to me. The streets taught us better than that. But the streets were really packed and so were the clubs. There were lines to get into a few of them and in everyone, the music was hittin’ and the drinks were cheap (by our standards) The dollar is strong yall. Thanks, Trump! One of the clubs that stuck out was Alquimico Bar. If there is one thing regarding the nightlife in Cartegena you need to trust me on, its this place. The drink menu was large and the staff was awesome and skilled. There are 3 levels in the bar. The ground and 2nd level play a combination of hip hop and dance music, while the top-level rooftop plays a mix of Spanish, Brazilian, and even African music. It was easy mingling with the people out there. Everyone was easy going, and positive. You could sense the love out there for real. Just be sure to ask any girl you hit on if she’s an escort before you fall for her. Learn from our mistakes. We hopped around several different bars the first night. Some had covers but the bouncers were nice enough to let 1 person in your crew check the place out before you paid to see if it was packed enough for your liking. We got back to our hotel that night feeling pretty excited about the rest of the trip.

The next day in Objectively Black fashion, we decided to have a workout and walk around Cartagena. The city is beautiful. The streets are lined with colorful colonial-style buildings. There are beautiful murals painted all across the city and plenty of historic statues and squares to visit. The markets are worth walking through as well. Even for those of you who hate shopping like me, you’ll want to pick up some souvenirs. The markets offer some authentic handmade crafts. One of the many spots we explored was Castillo San Felipe de Barajas / Fortress of San Felipe. Now did we mention the heat? The day we decided to summit this fortress it was well into the 90s and humid as all fuck. Still, we climbed. Our short trip to Peru may have come in handy, because next to the climbing that we did in Peru, climbing this castle was nothing. Next, we hit La Paletteria a Popsicle dessert shop in the middle of the old town. There are several different flavors divided by ‘base’ yogurt, water or cream. On a hot day of walking, one of these really hits the spot.

By chance, we were in Columbia during Copa America and we were able to catch the Columbia game against Argentina. We watched the game at Mister Babilla, a night club that was showing the game on several projectors in the venue. As you would expect the atmosphere inside was crazy. Futbol is bigger than religion out there so we were very lucky to be in Columbia during this even. This ranked up there with the most authentic experiences we had in the city. We just got lucky, but if you can, try planning your trip around a similar event to experience futbol in South America.

One of the most important things for us to do what to see an authentic live salsa band in Columbia. And to do that we went right back to Cafe Havana. If you remember we stopped by earlier in our trip but decided that it would be best to arrive early one night. And we were right. We arrived at Cafe Havana around 10 pm. By that point, most of the tables had already been taken. Luckily we found a table right next to the stage which was also close to the bar. The band played for about an hour and needless to say they were amazing. The entire place was lit. And this was my favorite part of the trip. It wasn’t even close.

South America has a million different things to offer. If you have the opportunity I will suggest taking way more than just two weeks to travel the continent. But if you do just have a few days to travel you could do much worse than Peru and Colombia. Both offer vastly different experiences yet they’re only hours apart. Listen, Objectively Black is traveling a lot this year. If you want to stay up-to-date on what we’re doing and get a good idea of what these different places have to offer, keep following. And also let us know what you think. Where do you want us to travel to next?

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Black Safe, General

Objectively Black does South America – Pt. 1

It’s been several months since your uncles at OB have traveled. Our last trip to Denver was “lit” as the kids are saying, but we were long overdue for “another one”. In picking a place to travel there were several things that we had to consider. For us it was important to travel someplace that we had never been before. Somewhere with a different culture entirely. And most importantly somewhere with extraordinary views for Instagram. Bitches love views.

Some other things that we needed to consider was our less than extended time off. Sadly our swagger-less day jobs don’t allow us to take that much time for vacation. We thought about doing South America because we could hit several countries. Europe has a similar draw, but everybody goes to Europe. Here at objectively black we are different… and we also like salsa. Initially the plan was to hit Brazil, Columbia and Peru. But at the time of booking, Brazil was too hot. There were ridiculous stories coming out about Brazil and we didn’t want to fuck with that since Spanish was already a struggle and we knew zero Portuguese whatsoever. We did meet several people during the journey who didn’t speak Spanish and got along just fine. But I suggest that if you can, learn some of the language of your destinations or fly with someone who knows it. It just makes everything easier.

I should mention now that we traveled with a buddy who was from the Dominican Republic and was fluent in ‘Spanish’. He really was responsible for what we thought was an authentic experience. We didn’t want to be some gringos in SA. So we finally decided on Peru for 4 nights and Cartagena, Columbia for another 4 nights. We’re going to break each stop on the trip into 2 separate articles. This is part 1.

Peru

Our first stop was in Lima Peru. The plan was to stay one night in Lima and fly out to Cusco the next day. We flew Avianca Airlines which was pretty dope. The flight was broken in 2 with a layover in Bogota. The connecting flight to Lima was delayed for 5 hours but that kind of thing happens when you travel overseas. Expect it and go with the flow. After we landed in Lima we took an airport Taxi to an Airbnb we booked that was 15 minutes away from the airport. Our plan being to see some sites around the area and still be very close to the airport in case we got drunk and need to sleep in. Driving through the city of Lima right outside of the airport was a bit surreal but also familiar. The born-and-bred in New York City side of me found it a bit foreign naturally. The streets were dark and the buildings or houses all looked a little run down. There were huge piles of trash on the median’s, and the driver had me nervous. These drivers were aggressive to say the least. The Nigerian American in me, the guy who’s been to West Africa a few times, to me this felt familiar as fuck. We were officially in the 3rd world. And I was nervously loving it already.

The nervousness got real once we arrived at our Airbnb. To say the least we weren’t in as comfortable a location as I would have liked. I had to reach out to some friends back in the States to point me in the right direction. They instructed me to change my Airbnb from a place in San Amadeo De Garagay to a hostel in Miraflores. So that’s what we did. After a 40 minute Uber it was like we were in a completely different country. Miraflores was “gorgeous gorgeous”. It’s also where all the tourists were in Lima. I should be clear though that these tourists weren’t just American. We met Brits, Spaniards, Brazilians and Dutch peoples in just in a couple of hours at the hostel.

We stayed at two hostels during our time in South America. Depending on what kind of trip you are looking for, your noise tolerance, and your age you may want to stay clear of certain hostels. You don’t have to worry about Selina hostel in Miraflores, which was safe for all. Even though we booked it that same night we were able to secure a private room for cheap (by US standards). It was quiet, they had a nice bar with good food, and the bartender was super helpful. We asked him if there was anything to do on Sunday night and he pointed us in the direction of Calle de los Pizza. Sadly, because it was a Sunday night this strip wasn’t popping. Do we say popping anymore? Still we were able to find a couple of clubs that are open. We decided on Son de Cuba after a little encouragement by what seemed like the manager of the spot. The next day we walked the streets of Miraflores. The weather in Lima was pretty comfortable at about 60 degrees, with constant cloud cover, so we just walked around in t-shirts. The streets are filled with beautiful artwork and the architecture reminded us of the Art Deco structures in Miami. The people stared a bit but I may have been the blackest tallest person they had ever seen in life. We made sure to eat a good meal of Lomo Saltado and see a few nearby sights like Larcomar and Huaca Pucllana before our flight to Cusco.

Cusco was a different beast all together. Firstly, the flight up there was only an hour but we were warned about the turbulence. So in natural fashion for me I made peace with my God and prepared for whatever might come next. I also left specific instructions with my family that if the worst should happen, i’d like to be buried with all $523.24 of my checking + savings account (Shout out Drake). Needless to say the flight went fine with very little turbulence. When we landed we called and Uber to take us to our 2nd hostel. Wild Rover. Remember that short warning about hostels? Well Wild Rover is one that you may want to research a bit before booking. It honestly wasn’t that bad, but I am a very light sleeper so it just wasn’t for your boy. Still the people were very nice and we did have some fun at the onsite bar for the 1 night we stayed there. 

Cusco is an amazing city just visually. The streets are cobblestone and the entire city is on a hills/mountains sides. Not only that, but the city itself is surrounded by mountains. So anywhere you look you see breathtaking views. Be sure to have some of that coca leaves tea  because you will want to walk, and that altitude will get your ass. After our first night we hit the ground running with Laguna Humante which we booked through one of the several tour companies with offices across the city.

We had to get up 4:00am to get on a bus that stopped right outside of Wild Rover’s gates. We got on the bus and finished our sleep but awoke to some next level views of the sun rise. Seriously the back of your neck is gonna get toned from looking up all the damn time during this trip. But it will all be worth it. Now if the sun doesn’t wake you up, then the driver whipping that bus around those tight turns to the base of that mountain will. Anyway, after a meal and a bit more driving you are face to face with the base of the mountain looking up at what will be a 1.5-2 hour trek up at 4,200 meters in elevation. Don’t worry though. If you aren’t in shape and aren’t willing to suffer a heart attack on the side of a mountain in Peru, you can take a horse. I am not in shape but I am certainly willing to stress my own heart instead of these senoritas doing it for a change. So we climbed…

And it sucked.

But it was worth it.

On the last day in Peru we took a train to Machu Picchu on the PeruRail. If you aren’t doing the 4-day hike to Machu Picchu, then this has to be the 2nd best option. The train is equipped with huge windows on the sides and the top of cars allowing you to see the whole 360 view of all the surrounding mountains. The conductor stopped the train at certain points and on the loudspeaker you can hear an explanation of historical significance of the spots along the way. Also they serve beer. This was also the point when we realized how shitty our work-life balance is. On the trip up to Machu Picchu sat across from 2 young Australian ladies. They were both on the tail end of a 5-week trip across South America. We were lucky we got a week!

Anyway, they were cool and wanted to hang out after the tour so we never talked to them again. More on the train though. After the tour we got in one of the first class train cabins and were treated to a fashion show as well as what can only be described as Peru’s version of a Jester. A dude dressed up in masks and danced around the train for our amusement. I just wonder what other first class experiences I’ve been missing my whole life. In short Machu Picchu was dope. I’m not a historian and I couldn’t do our tour guide Percy any justice, but I hope this pictures will suffice. 

By the end of Peru, we did not want to leave. The experience we had was definitely life changing. Seeing how other people live and being around so much beauty everyday is something I could definitely get used to. But sadly it was time to hit the next spot on our journey, Columbia. I can guarantee that I’ll be back to Peru. I’ma try to do that 4-day hike to Machu Picchu and I’ma eat all the Lomo Saltado I possibly can until I go back. 

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