It has been called by some ‘The Queen of The Caribbean Coast’. Cartagena, Columbia is a bright maze of cobblestone streets. Just inside the ancient city walls, you can find used booksellers. The brutal heat and humidity were overwhelming but wandering the neighborhoods was not to be missed.The thick walls of Las Murallas surround the Old Town. Originally built to keep out enemies, Las Murallas is in remarkable condition. Even though there are numerous guide books on Cartagena, it is better to just wander about. Colorful buildings line the streets with their open patios and balconies.Street vendors sell a variety of fresh fruits, ranging from coconuts to papayas and bananas. It’s safe to try some of the produce, the water in the larger cities is safe to drink and the fruits and vegetables are also safe.You are sure to encounter some of the brightly dressed Palenqueras. These black women were originally from San Basillo de Palenque, a small village located in southeast of Cartagena. San Basillo de Palenque was founded by runaway African slaves and is one of the first free towns in the Americas. Tourists snap up pictures of the beautifully dressed women with bowls of fruit on their heads. But beware, if you do not tip them first, they will hiss at you and hide their faces. For a dollar each, I got some great shots, but as soon as the cameras stop snapping, the smiles disappear from their faces. Even though they are used to being the center of attention, they really are tired poor women who have to sit all day in the sun and heat to make some sort of living.As colorful as the tropical parrots that freely fly around, the buildings are dressed in bright yellows, blues, reds and oranges. Cartagena was one of Spain’s important ports along with San Juan and Havana.