If you can bear the heat and humidity, there are plenty of rewards for photographers in Cartagena. Every ancient wall is a canvas, every wooden shutter and every rusted padlock a handcrafted sculpture. The Old City has been beautifully restored, with just the right level of peeling paint and scuffed wood to stop it feeling …
As the sun sets and the sweltering temperatures begin to subside, the dancers come out in Cartagena. The energetic drumming is like a siren call, ringing through the colonial streets, drawing onlookers from across the old city.
For a fan of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the ancient wooden doors of Old Cartagena are each as exciting as a book cover – each awaiting to be opened to reveal the stories within, of traders, aristocrats and drug barons.
Tiny babies, chunky toddlers – it’s a continent-wide scenario. How many babies have grown into toddlerhood across Africa, seeing the world pass by on its side?
Mystery meat stalls are such an intrinsic part of travelling that it only seemed right to ask for a photograph of Thomas, with his corrugated aluminium kebab stall under the shade of the looming baobabs – and he was happy to oblige.
This photo means a lot to me today as it’s my final day in the job which has taken me across the globe and back during the last five years, and the end of almost exactly ten years of living and working around the world and there are many memories in these Pesos, Gourdes, Shillings, Dollars, Euros, Bolivianos, Birr and Balboas.
Oh, to be able to bring this scene to life with the noise, the heat, the humidity. The acrid smells of rotting crops and fly-covered meat, the sticky black floor. This photograph is strangely calm, its subject lit as if upon a stage by the Caribbean light penetrating the glorious, rusting, metal roof.
I bet that many stories have unravelled behind these battered windows. The light and heat and flies are banished by flimsy shutters with proud layers of new paint, by mesh screens, by pieces of wood sliced up to fit the frames. But people remain within, kept here by half-century-old laws.
This little boy’s feet are barely touching the ground; he is floating on the roof of South America. The vivid colours are a joyful contrast to the bleached salt and dusty moonscape; we are finally returning from the otherworldly scenes of the Altiplano to warmth and colour. The boy is dancing in the sunbeams, and he is smiling.
The history of Hagia Sophia seems significant right now, as it is a symbol of the different cultures, religions and governments that have ruled this country. Even its names tell stories of its multicultural past – Hagia Sophia is Greek, while Aya Sofya is Turkish – and the city where it stands straddles two continents.