Feliz Año Nuevo 2018 de Cartagena

So, this was incredible. The Québecois certainly know how to party, but compared to the Cartagenans, theirs is an upper class British wake.



This post is being prepared at 5:00PM, roughly 12 hours after we got to bed. Being exposed to fun and the rituals associated therewith makes for indelible experiences. Again, the cohesiveness of the volunteer group provided the platform. Tasks, responsibilities, funds, and ideas are submitted equally by all. Monica, our program leader was in her element all day. As she increasingly interconnects with the 10 of us and opens up, her smile becomes broader. The kibitzing and interplay enhances the experience for all of us. 

Monica (left) & Mattia 

(She is not a dwarf; he is very tall)

A late brunch at Crèpes & Waffles set the day’s tone. While the wait to get seated at 11:30 was reminiscent to standing outside Beauty’s, given the option of a hot sun beating down on us versus -27 pre-windchill, the choice was obvious. As many coco-lemonades (a delicious cold drink comprising a mixture of frothy coconut milk and lemonade) were likely sold here yesterday as compared to Larry Scolnik’s hot cocoa sales in Montreal. 

Presentation and flavour fight for top honours at C&W (not to be confused by A&W). 

Upstairs at Crèpes & Waffles

Neither  Crèpe nor Waffle


Set in el Centro, Cartagena’s walled old city, shops, hotels and restaurants are clean, well laid out replete with warm, genuine merchants and service people. Our bruncheria (I made up this Spanish word) was housed in a 16th century mansion. Crèpes & Waffles is a Colombian based chain that has begun to expand outside of the country. Forget Eggspectations or Allo Coco; if this chain comes to town, the local eggeries will be scrambling for second place. The owners have a social conscious, to boot. All the wait staff are single mothers.

It being New Year’s Eve, appropriate attire was required in this very stylish, fashion conscious city. Lori and I, accompanied by Monica went duds hunting. 

Local designers contribute to the beauty and culture of Cartagena. 

Pricing is reasonable, quality high, and the look; well the photo speaks for itself.

Lori’s Cartagena Camisole

Dinner was cooked up at our home. Fajitas and Spaghetti Carbonara. If that is not a culinary metaphor for what we are all about, I’ll eat my hat. Around 10:15 we made our way into town. The pre-arranged tables situated at a strategic location – far enough from the blaring music, up a few steps in a breezy section of the concourse with an unobstructed view of the fireworks, added to the joviality of the evening. 


As did the sangria, beer, cocktail concoctions, drinking games, silly jokes, and internationalism at the highest level. So many local rituals – yellow underwear is worn by all. This probably began as individuals returned home from all night parties to which they wore their tighty-whities. By the end of the evening, do I have to get graphic….? Then there are the twelve grapes to be eaten at the stroke of midnight, with a wish attached to each one. 

By the 6th, you are wishing that you are at the 12th. An empty suitcase is brought to the celebration by each person, who then runs around the block carrying it. Said ritual will result in an increased possibility of travel in the upcoming year. In North America we use credit card points to achieve a similar effect. A coin is dropped into a glass of champagne, which is then drunk, to assure wealth. The immediate winners are the doctors in the emergency ward who are paid to dislodge swallowed coins.

Traditional Brazilian-Danish Yellow Balloon New Year’s Eve Dance

Around 2:30, Monica decided that it was enough. Under normal circumstance that means we’re going home. By Colombian standards, that means crank it up a gear. A 20 minute walk through music, festivities, discarded foodstuffs and bottles, through clouds of wafting urine, amidst a sea of decked out women, and a constant honking of vehicles, we arrived at a superb club that wanted a 75,000 pesos ($30) per person entry fee. Monica being Monica, knew the owners. Five minutes later we were inside and dancing the night away.

Traditional Colombian New Year’s Eve Table Dance 2018

Traditional Madagascar Circumcision Dance 2017

Turns out that one of Colombia’s best known singers, who happened to be Monica’s idol was performing live in this cozy little place. Her eyes lit up as the New Year brought her its first mini-miracle. A significant amount of dancing and a couple of tequila shots later, the hands of the clock sped up and it was 4:00 AM. I am so pleased to report on the comportment of the young volunteers that night. Nobody sick, nobody drunk (OK, perhaps a few of us could be declared officially tipsy), but zero issues, only dancing, laughing and fun. 

Vols ‘R’ Us

New Year’s Eve is followed by New Year’s Morning. Light had not quite dirtied the sky by the time we returned home around 5:00. Hugs and good nights. Life began for us again New Year’s afternoon. Smiles and great memories abound as we prepare for whatever 2018 brings us.

Good Luck, Good Health, Success and a Whole Lotta Love for the upcoming 12, folks!!

Lori and Bruce 
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