Cartagena, Colombia is a Caribbean vacation city and major coastal metropolis of nearly 1 million people. I heard a sound there while vacationing last month: the continuous flow of pleasurable noises mixing and unmixing as I walked. On a Friday night in Cartagena, the only way you can limit your ears to one sound is to get so close to it that other nearby sounds are temporarily inaudible. But take a few steps back, and you’ll again enjoy two musics mixing; or teenagers calling out from a balcony plus a guitar player strumming as he walks past the partiers; the sound of a wedding leaving a church and beer drinkers across the plaza.
This sound clip is from the Sofitel lobby. I took the recording in the hotel’s open-air courtyard. You’ll hear lounge music from the bar, the din of fancy diners, and buzzing cicadas (chicharras in Spanish). If you listen closely, you may be able to hear a second music for part of the recording.
This was my second trip to Cartagena. In January 2010 I spent three weeks there working on a project CoLab did in partnership with the Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar: a supply chain analysis on four major goods sold at Cartagena’s Bazutro market to determine what will happen when the city executes its plan to move a portion of Bazurto to a new location 5 kilometers away.
When I was there last January I loved the sounds of Cartagena, but didn’t listed to them as closely as I did on my lazy vacation. I didn’t take conscious note of this constant mixing of pleasant sounds before.
Post and recording by Alexa Mills. Audio Portraits is an experiment on CoLab Radio. Through periodically posting sounds, we are trying to understand what makes a sound interesting and how it contribute to a better understand of community and physical space.