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On my trip to Cartagena Colombia in 2017, I ended up scoring a super sweet penthouse apartment overlooking the bay of Cartagena through Airbnb. The main reason I chose to live there for a month was because the place had 7 rooms so I knew I was bound to meet interesting travelers. I didn’t meet anyone, however I DID stay in 3 of those rooms and I’ll tell you why, and it’s not because my real name is Goldilocks!

I love the heat. I enjoy humidity, it makes my skin look better and my lungs breathe easier. But Cartagena in August, in the tippy top floor of a 9 story building, in a room with no AC that I’m pretty sure used to be a storage closet was just too hot for my blood. Literally! So I requested to move to an air-conditioned bedroom and pay the extra cash for it. The woman who owned the apartment, Kristina, was beyond sweet and very calm even though she was 8 months pregnant.

Related: 3 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Visiting Cartagena Colombia

All settled in my new room on the main floor and feeling good, it’s only a few days that go by before the air con starts to feel musty and then the sleek wall unit quits entirely. I find the manual in a cabinet and read the Spanish instructions to try to understand the error code that flashes at me each time I turn the machine on. Two green blinks for “Sorry,” and three red for “No AC for you”. Frustrated and sweaty, I email Kristina again to tell her what’s up and she comes with a technician the next day.

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Wind in hair on balcony Cartagena Colombia

As I wait in the living room, walking around the beautiful big tile floors, staring out the countless floor to ceiling windows at the bay and surrounding buildings, the breeze on the balcony makes the heat momentarily disappear. To my surprise, I hear Kristina yell “DiossssSANTO!” (Holy God.) My first reaction is to laugh, but my very next reaction is to run in and see what about an air conditioner could make her say that!

I was not prepared for what I walked into. Apparently the engine to the unit was on the outside of the building in the corner of the room, and that part of the wall had been removed. And there were FEATHERS everywhere!! A whole family of unassuming (or I guess very presumptuous) pigeons had been living in the engine! The error code was very wrong and that manual said nothing about birds.

Now that the whole place smelled like poultry, I gathered my things and she moved me to yet another room upstairs, much bigger with more windows and a functioning AC unit where I stayed for the remainder of my time there.

cartagena colombia

Room number 3 in Cartagena

So in the end, the upgrade I experienced was definitely worth all the swelter and bird business! Just one of the many things about traveling; you can never foresee anything at all. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Read more: My Walk Through The Most Dangerous Neighborhood In South America

Visiting Colombia? Check out our Colombia Travel Tips


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