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Hello Illumelation readers! I’m Katerina, and Mel graciously invited me to share my thoughts and photos from an eye-opening trip to Cartagena. I hope you enjoy them!

Cartagena, Colombia - Katerina Jeng - Scratch the List - illumelation

Cartagena, Colombia.

Where do I even begin?

Perhaps with Cartagena’s dazzling color palette: vibrant shades splashed on street murals, soft pastels glazed over historic buildings, bright hues weaved into sandals and sarongs.

Or maybe I’ll start with Cartagena’s mouth-watering plato tipico: deep-fried fish with a side of coco rice, veggies, and plantains. Or maybe with its world renowned coffee, so richly flavored that even a whiff feels like a treat. Not to mention the region’s sweet, tropical fruit, boasting an array so delightfully new from what I’m used to in the States.

Fish Meal at Cartagena, Colombia - Katerina Jeng, Scratch the List - Illumelation

Universally enticing is the city’s undeniable energy. Salsa rhythms permeate each street, accompanied by banter between old friends and echoing hollers of street vendors. Soccer games magically materialize in every town square.

Cartagena is a place where human interaction is exactly that — human. Below are photos I took from my trip to Cartagena. I hope they give you just a glimpse into the beautifully lively spirit that Colombia embodies.

Flower Market - Colombia, Cartagena

There’s one thing in particular that I’ll never forget about Cartagena, and Colombian culture as a whole. It’s the way the people I met (women, especially) were unapologetically free to express themselves.

As I explored the discotheques of Barranquilla, a city just two hours north of Cartagena, I was blown away by what I saw: Women of all shapes and sizes, wearing crop tops and mini-skirts reminiscent of the 90’s, shakin’ what their mamas gave them.

Embracing their curves. Uninhibited and carefree.

Colombia In Pictures: Colors Of Cartagena - Kat Jeng - Flowers at Market - Scratch the List
Contrast Statue Sky at Cartagena, Colombia - Katerina Jeng, Scratch the List - Illumelation.JPG

Growing up in the United States taught me that there’s a very specific “standard of beauty.” As I’ve matured, traveled, and opened my eyes to new experiences, the real “standard of beauty” becomes apparent — there is none.

True beauty comes from within. Traveling to Colombia was a stark reminder of that notion, and it was utterly refreshing.

*Photos taken by Katerina Jeng

Colombia in Pictures: Colors of Cartagena - A Photo Essay by Kat Jeng -
Mel Legarda

Melissa Legarda is the founder of illumelation. She has worked as a travel blogger, creator and writer since 2015, and has collaborated with well-known brands worldwide. She has helped over 1,100+ students improve their travel photography skills since launching her creative courses. Her mission is to encourage and empower others to travel and create more. Find her on Instagram.

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