Mango, mango, mango!!!!! These were the first things we heard when we stepped out of the taxi in Cartagena. Where were we? Just 3 hours earlier, we were sitting in the air-conditioned airport in Ft. Lauderdale enjoying a hot dog and a Miller Lite…..now all five senses were being tested? What was that sweet smell? How could so many people be walking down these small alleys? Stepping out, I had a craving for a cold diet coke, but instead we found food carts upon food carts on the side of the street. One cart sold sliced watermelon, another sold freshly squeezed mango juice, and another was selling empanadas. Then there were the carts that sold a hodge-podge of items, from gum to cigars. Some women even walked around like the Chiquita Banana lady, with fruit in a basket on their heads. Everything was overwhelmingly fresh and literally at my fingertips. Gone was the world of slurpees and taquitos that had been sitting on the roller at 7-11 for who knows how long.
Colombians have created a new sense of convenient store. Unless you live in NYC, you normally don’t find food carts on every corner. In a culture of “drive here, and drive there”, we’ve abandoned local trade for Starbucks and Taco Bell. Why don’t we walk around wearing a hat with fruit on it? I think I’ll start a trend and wear one. I can just yell out “Mango, mango, mango” as I walk into work.