Bright colors, creative buildings, fried food festival... it's a change from Canada. I consider Cartagena de Indias as my real initiation to South America, I tell you how it went and my impressions for the first day of shooting my third film, AURORA.
Montreal, January 26, 2018. I have to leave my hometown, Bromont, to get to Montreal airport by bus. It's -30 (maybe not exactly, but in Converse it looks like it). The first part is going well, until I arrive in Montreal (obviously). I want to take the bus that will take me from the central terminus to the airport. I had read that they only take cash, that's not true, I hope to help someone here to be more efficient... in reality, you have to go directly inside a station metro (any metro) and ask for a 24-hour pass (which costs the same $10). In the direct bus, they won't take it... so I had to run at this temperature because I had been misinformed. Otherwise, I arrive on time, in fact, really a long time in advance, my flight is at 6:40 am and the last Bromont-Montreal bus is around 11 pm. Yes! I had decided to ''sleep'' at the airport. That gives you an idea of how fresh and ready I was for the first day of shooting AURORA... NOT!
Anyways, despite my fatigue, I was really happy to finally find myself in the heat. It was rather a shock, because Cartagena de Indias is at Caribbean Sea level... so it's 45 degrees (maybe not exactly, but coming from Montreal!). How it's good! It gives me some energy.
I join my spouse who was already in Colombia for 2 weeks, the lucky one. He says to me: '' I absolutely have to bring you to eat the best ceviche in town! '' and in fact, the ceviche in South America (in the port cities preferably) I recommend it to you, it's so fresh!!!
I was a little stressed to take my camera out in Colombia (and in South America), because of the general judgments we hear. Yes it's not a place to show that we have plenty of money etc. I don't really have any but hey..., hahaha! What you have to understand is that they don't know it. As a tourist, you are automatically put in the box: ''Cash itinerant''. It's a shame and on several occasions I had a conversation with locals about this; in reality, most South Americans probably have more money in their possession than most over-indebted North Americans... In short! The only thing I have is this camera, which is very important! No camera, no film... so if I have it stolen... (I have insurance, but it kinda sucks!) is that a movie?! It's not by keeping your camera in your bag that the images will be taken!'' At the first opportunity, at the clock tower, I took out the beast. Of course, I was always cautious, but in general, in South America, it was ok! The tourist places are rather safe. At night, for example, very often I only used my cell phone, just to be sure!
I had heard a lot about the colonial architecture of Cartagena. It was very pleasant as a first shoot! All the bright colors, the creative buildings...it's a change from the straight architecture of North America. I love port cities, and really, I would go back to Cartagena de Indias anytime for a vacation...
I wanted to go see the Caribbean Sea, take a little shot there... and this is the first time I've used a collectivo. There wasn't even room, but who cares! It's a bit the same in South America and that's good for that. We sit on the ground in the middle of the aisle... people are curious because it's clearly not a tourist bus. Fortunately Mike speaks very good Spanish, let's say that with my Duo Lingo I was far from the mark (for the moment!).
The days of filming are pretty similar, in the sense that... when you arrive in a new city, the first day, you walk ALL day. No rest! Our day is a bit longer than other tourists. There is the observation period. The landscape, I look at it, I find it beautiful and pleasant. Then I ''take out'' my cam. And the tripod. I clean my lens. I make sure the tripod is straight, etc. I answer the questions of the world that asks me (If, somos of Canada! ... meanwhile the plan is not taken yet). Mike helps me a lot because that's the kind of stuff he does while I can concentrate on my work. So! 1 shot taken! Let's try some variations... a little pan here, a quick little move there... I repeat that a hundred times in my day. But we are happy! Because at the end of the day, we do what we love. Let's say that at the end of the day, the little cold beer is well deserved!
Fried Food Festival
I think that's really my favorite part of my stay in Cartagena. You wonder what is it? Literally, it says it! We are warned... It's not a tourist festival, be careful there (it's not complicated, we're told that constantly. Guess we care.)! So I don't bring my camera and I'm pretty happy I didn't because as a festival, it was pretty tight! It happens in the evening, there is a big stage where popular big bands from Colombia play, sponsored by the biggest radio station in Colombia (Ooooooolympica!!!) people dance, eat (do I need to say ''fried food''?) and drink, there are street games, it's really fun! We're literally the only gringos around, and we love it! That day I understood something about the South American culture, it is that they are much less stressed and stressful. We drank our beer sitting on the sidewalk in the street (like everyone else) right next to the police, no problem. Horse rides right next to a hundred grills for food. Clearly, not all of these ''restaurateurs'' need a food truck license haha! And you know what, that's what made the festival authentic for us, we were there to have fun and discover the Colombian culture. No need to tell you that we came back to our Airbnb with a stomach ache from having eaten too much...
This is what the festival looked like!