1. It is impossible to eat too much coconut rice.
2. I’d barely taken one step outside the airport before wondering why I’d ever owned a coat.
3. I’ve never seen a Cartagenero rush – not even when crossing a busy road.
4. No-one likes getting up early. But it’s easier knowing you’re going to buy a fish from the very man who caught it.
5. Tropical bats fly past your head with a wingspan twice the size of your hand. It’s unnerving but exhilarating.
6. Sancocho soup.
7. Weirdly, rain is a relief.
8. Everything – from maize and lentils to fruit juice and coca-cola – is available in a bag.
9. There are still conductors on the buses who scream the various destinations to potential customers. This so-called ‘sparring’ keeps life interesting.
10. Blow drys are expensive. No-one bothers.
11. Heche… no joda… de uuuna… erm, what?
12. When sea air is that bracing it can cure almost anything.
13. There is always a wedding on a Saturday night.
14. Bottles of the spirit aguardiente are three times the size of the ones you find in Bogotá.
15. Kola Roman. It’s pink but it grows on you. I promise.
16. Everyone shivers at the Inquisition Museum.
17. Bollo de mazorca is probably the world’s greatest street snack.
18. It is impossible to get bored of watching the pelicans.
19. Everyone knows the way to a free outdoor pool.
20. Pale foreign skin is attractive. Just ask the otherwise choosy mosquitos.
21. Suddenly, siestas are the best invention ever. Even my gym wouldn’t think to open its doors in the early afternoon.
22. I went to peep at Gabriel García Márquez’s house on my very first day. Not sure what he’s done to the wall though.
23. The mud volcano. It’s the weirdest day out ever.
24. Those enormous tropical butterflies also like to hang out in the streets. The blue ones are the best.
25. Forget the silver screen, Cartagena has immortalised decades of the nation’s beauty queens in its pavements.
26. A cheeky smile and regular purchases of Milo cookies will guarantee you constant credit at the corner shop.
27. The novel Love in the Time of Cholera. It’s not set in Cartagena, but it so is.
28. Most cities erect statues for great men, occasionally women. Cartagena has erected one in honour of its seabirds.
29. It is okay to walk in the street without shoes.
30. A colectivo taxi bundles you in with anyone going your way. It’s cheaper then a normal taxi, quicker than the bus.
31. They’ve forgiven us for Francis Drake, but do we have to insist they call him Sir?
32. Cartagena’s not a collection of islands, but it feels like it. There are beaches everywhere.
33. Cartageneros don’t pronounce the letter ‘d’ unless they have to. Neither do the British.
34. Bikes can be hired and cycled through the old city. It’s better for you than a horse and carriage – and cheaper too.
35. The tunnels at San Felipe castle could have been written by Enid Blyton.
36. The doorknockers in the old city are doing their best to outdo one another.
37. There are enormous iguanas everywhere. One came into the house. It was longer than my arm and hid behind the fridge.
38. You might just eat the best pizza of your life in Getsemani. Try the apple special at Cafe de la Trinidad.
39. There is always something going on; the musical festival, the film festival, the horse festival, the Hay festival…
40. It is okay to take a really long lunch.
41. There’s a little man who sells cheap cans of beer to anyone who can’t afford Cafe del Mar. He throws in the sunset for free.
42. Everyone has succumbed to the temptation to peer through the shutters of an old city home. They won’t arrest you.
43. A bottle of Costeñita beer is always refreshing and costs COP $1,100 (39p)
44. Forget the museum. At Mila’s bakery, in the old city, you can buy cake that looks like it’s made from gold.
45. There are tame parrots in Pedro Claver’s garden.
46. Every fruit cart has been lovingly named. You can buy watermelon from The Beauty or avocado from The Love of God.
47. Drinking a cold beer in the warm sea is the height of decadence.
48. The planes will raise the hair on your head when you walk past the runway on your way to Blas el Teso beach.
49. You can eat Mongo Mongo pie at Zebra cafe in the old city.
50. The ‘romantic’ old city street names get lost in translation. Think Street of the Deathtombs or Street of the Wooden Slats.
51. The Naval Museum. It has to be haunted.
52. You can buy a trilby or a panama hat in every colour under the sun. I have my eye on purple.
53. There are fruits you’ve never heard of – try zapote, nispero, caimito and corozo. In a smoothie.
54. It’s perfectly acceptable to eat your way through the Crepes and Waffles ice-cream menu.
55. A single mojito and a moonlit walk along the wall will sate you for a night out.
56. You can gorge on fat cheesy arepas, baked in sunshine.
57. They can make anything from an old coconut shell. I like the lamps. And the sugar bowls.
58. I LOVE CARTAGENA t-shirts are not limited to tourists.
59. Mime artists are funny. Admit it.
60. The little boutiques are essentially just treasure troves, filled with funky bits of jewellery and colourful print dresses.
61. When was the last time you sat on a cannon?
62. There’s a real book row in Centenary Park; stall after stall stuffed with nothing but books. Heaven.
63. Champeta music puts Dirty Dancing to shame.
64. The flowers. They’re stunning.
65. Geckos in your house. It’s a pet you don’t have to feed.
66. The gorgeous old houses in the El Cabrero district make for the perfect Sunday afternoon stroll.
67. The sleazebag who wolf whistled at me every time I went into the house turned out to be the neighbour’s parrot.
68. One night I had to wear ear plugs because the crickets were singing so loudly it sounded like kareoke.
69. Every Cartagena child knows how to make bolis.
70. You can wear flip flops every day.
71. Paint your house any colour you choose. I’ve seen brickwork in hot pink and sky blue and it works.
72. The wall is so thick, you can sit within it.
73. The leaves on tropical trees are so impossibly big that when one landed on my head, I almost fell over.
74. Fresh lemonade comes in every flavour – think mango, cherry and coconut.
75. Take a two-minute rickshaw. It boosts the local economy.
76. Lolling in my pyjamas one Sunday, I bought a coffee from a vendor outside the house. You say lazy, I say convenient.
77. Waiting for a grey day is a pointless task.
78. It’s the perfect place to read sea-related books. I read Papillon, I imagine Moby Dick would be a good one too.
79. A man will come to your door to sell you raspao – it’s like a slush puppie and comes in cola, cherry or lemon.
80. You can buy prawn cocktails from a hut in Getsemani which has an over-sized hat instead of a roof.
81. The Adolfo Mejia theatre is ornate and beautiful.
82. There’s nothing you can’t see from the top of La Popa mountain.
83. Rumba on the coast is still rumba, just more laid back.
84. There’s always someone kindly sharing their fireworks.
85. The Rosario islands are everything you could possibly want in a Caribbean island and more.
86. Coconut milk can be drunk from said coconut. That’s the way it should be.
87. Every night feels like Saturday night.
88. Mapale dancers, whose African moves sailed over with the slaves, perform in public with apparently limitless energy.
89. Sporty, co-ordinated people enjoy an evening rollerblade along the bay. Others, not so co-ordinated, watch.
90. There’s always someone to sell you a cold drink.
91. You can play chess for hours in Simon Bolivar park.
92. There are really weird spiky-nosed fish in the waters around the tourism harbour. Latin name unknown.
93. Club Havana is a brilliant night out.
94. Everything is a photograph.
95. People still believe rubber trees provide a superior kind of shade.
96. Cartagena is a city of legends; everyone knows a story about what goes on behind those doors.
97. I had a massage from a woman so strong I could barely walk home. I had to shuffle sideways like a crab.
98. You can eat oysters for breakfast at Bocachica.
99. It’s really hard to sustain a bad mood.
100. It is perfectly acceptable to become wildly lost in the labyrinthine streets of the old city.
101. Lots of tourists still think Cartagena is too dangerous to visit. Enjoy this while it lasts.