Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

JUL-AUG 2019

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"I need to get to Cartagena to save my sister!" I'm embarrassed to admit it, but all I knew about Colombia was from the 1984 •lm Romancing the Stone, in which Kathleen Turner embarks on a journey to Cartagena to find her kidnapped sister. So, when my mother said she wanted to celebrate her 70th birthday in Cartagena, I was a bit apprehensive. Her requirements were "a city with rich culture, history, shopping, and a beach." A friend suggested Cartagena, and despite booking our airfare and hotel months in advance, I didn't know anything about the city until we got o† the plane. It was the •rst time I traveled blindly and just assumed all would go as planned. Aboard the plane, I sat next to my sister and a gentleman from Chicago. He was traveling via Miami with a group of five married couples. They too chose Cartagena for its cultural appeal and the promise of turquoise beaches. He said they didn't want to "do Cancún" again; they wanted somewhere di†erent, yet close to the United States. Just minutes past the airport, there was a colorful and Instagram-worthy "Welcome to Cartagena" sign on the beach. 'e oceanfront views were not spectacular initially. While there were umbrellas and chairs set up with dozens of beach-goers, it was clear the more picturesque areas would be a boat ride away. After a few quick turns within the walled parameters of Old Town, we arrived at Casa San Agustin, perhaps the most beautiful and intimately luxurious boutique hotel I've ever visited. It is owned by Mr. Woods Staton, a wealthy global businessman from Medellín, Colombia. Behind the armed street-front gate, we were greeted by a kind and welcoming sta†. After a soothing drink of cucumber, mint, and other fresh ingredients (the water is 100% •ne to drink for travelers), we went up a šight of steps to our three-bedroom suite. 'e atrium style of the hotel, which encompasses a pool and 16th-century wall supporting the newer parts of the building, afforded a slight breeze to interject the hot and humid air; guest rooms are perfectly air-conditioned and cooled with fans. After changing into cooler clothes, we headed back outside and explored the endless streets of shops, restaurants, street vendors, and food stands. The locals were young; no one appeared to be over the age of 40, aside from a handful of business owners. We later learned that a 70-year-old in Cartagena is generally con•ned to a wheelchair or walker and closer to the end of life, rather than celebrating in a foreign city like my mom was. A SHINY JEWEL A milestone birthday is celebrated with a trip to Cartagena Written and Photographed by Carrie Edelstein 'e private island called Acasi is reserved exclusively for guests of Casa San Agustin. 54

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