First hint of dawn finds a
fritanguera, or food ven-
dor, stoking the fire of her
grill.  Across the lagoon
looms the fort of San
Felipe de Barajas, monu-
ment to the might of the
empire that directed Car-
tagena´s destiny for near-
ly three centuries.
almond leaves, whipping up whitecaps.  Winds that
once filled the sails of galleons now deliver the city a
daily second wind.
   Shoeshine boys near the old clock gate fold up their
kits.  Codgers sit on park benches donated by politi-
cians; stencils promise "deeds not words."  The buy-
ers of lottery tickets visit their bookies at El Perro to
collect winnings or consolation.
   On the Street of the Consulado, I visit a man
described ed as a curer, a sorcerer, or, as he prefers,
a "spiritual counsel."  His copra-scented office is
crowded with jars and one human skull.  For some 40
years Jesús Meza has fashioned amulets and come to
know his neighbors in a special way:  "Other towns
have more culture.  But people here have the instinct
for happiness."
   And in an instinct for history.  A disparate crowd of
men-courtly, phlegmatic, young, old-meet as
members of the Society of Public Improvements.
They are preservationists and historians, here to take
refreshments, plan city projects, and quarrel politely.
The dean is clearly Don Donaldo Bossa Herazo, a
white-clad, white-haired octogenarian, big as a
Buddha.  He speaks about fortifications and dates:
"Remember what Arnold Toynbee said when he saw
our walls: "South America does not speak English
because of this!"
   One member mentions "the matter of flowers
From the: National Geographic - Page 3 of 12

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