Photo by Louis Vest / Creative Commons

The historic neighborhood of Getsemaní, located on what once used to be a sandbank outside the main fortifications of Cartagena, is part of the obligatory walking trail for tourists. Despite its proximity to the main entrance to the Old City – the yellow clock tower – Getsemaní has developed its own personality from a storied and torrid past, now inviting visitors to walk its warren of alleyways, admire tropical street art and enjoy costeño cuisine cooked by matrons of Afro-Colombian ancestry.

While the cobblestone streets of the fabled Old City are equally authentic, the once derelict working-class barrio has been adding color to its coral stone walls, with one of the narrowest streets, Calle Angosto, inaugurating last month a new look with an old accessory– the umbrella.

The residents of Getseman´ have embraced an eclectic mix of humble colonial architecture, Art Nouveau-inspired boutique hotels, food vendors who flip arepas in sunlit plazas, and poets trade-in words for chilled mojitos. Home to artists’ studios, carpentry workshops, dance halls and eateries in nooks and crannies, the centerpiece of this sultry Latin Quarter is the 17th-century church in the main square that bears its name Plaza de la Santisima Trinidad.

Adding a touch of Asian charm to a backstreet where low-level homes operate as hostels, the umbrellas are always welcome to add much-needed shade to streets that scorch in the midday heat, but also to protect pedestrians when the torrential rains of set in.