Magic hour in Cartagena
Richard Emblin

Photographers call the time of day when this picture was taken, the “Magic Hour.” It’s when direct sunlight gives way to shadowless backgrounds and the combination of the last light of day saturates color and shrouds an image in mystery.

American realist Edward Hopper painted many a Magic Hour. In their time, so did Monet and Turner.

Given Cartagena’s stifling midday heat, the Magic Hour is one of the best times of day to walk the city, to observe locals hunched together for that after-work drink, as beer bottles occupy table space and heated conversations emanate from open doorways.

After the celebration last month of Cartagena’s Independence Day, during which the crowning ceremonies of Miss Colombia and Miss Popular Queen took place, high season on the coast is now officially underway.

January ushers in two important cultural events, Hay Festival and the International Music Festival of Cartagena. Until these wind down towards the end of January, there is standing room only in the many cafés and bars of this historic walled city.