Cartagena is a special
place. Fronted at the harbour by American style sky scrapers lies
the ancient walled city. It is very Spanish but in many respects seems in better
heart than some of the run down towns of Galicia for instance and much more
attractive than parts of graffiti covered Lisbon. The cobbled streets and shaded
squares are swept clean with not a smidgen of graffiti to be seen. Streets
are crowded with vendors and people about their business but the feeling is of a
place that is safe to wander, although there are apparently barrios (suburbs)
which you must avoid. Last night we went to a concert at the University
Institute of Belles Artes then strolled the lamp lit streets and had a beer in
one of the many lovely squares, the whole evening was delightful. This is one of
a number of attractive squares.
the streets are narrow but without too much traffic. The ratio of taxis to cars
is high and they are very cheap. Many of the houses have these overlapping
balconies and hidden behind their fronts are quiet courtyard gardens,
In this street, interspersed with the
craft vendors, were many secondhand stalls selling all manner of used items many
of which looked as if they had been gleaned from the local rubbish
Cartagena abounds with restaurants,
the food is excellent and very inexpensive. One local speciality is ceviche of
fish which is really delicious but so are the fish & sauce dishes, thin
crust pizzas and light crusty breads. Meat eaters are more than well catered
for. All the fruit is wonderful: melons, pineapples, citrus, grapes and avocados
to name but a few, vendors slice them in the street and sell like cool drinks in
paper cups. The bananas are excellent but not quite like the Colombian bananas
we get in U.K.; they are smaller, sweeter and well more bananary.
Some more impressions of
the city and the countryside around,
Chapel on the Hill - Cerro de la Popa
which overlooks the city.
Botanic gardens highlight the huge
variety of species in Colombia. Tranquil and full of fragrant odours.
Impressive climbers. In the canopy
were red monkeys with some lively babies and small vultures which were
incredibly clumsy and fell out of the trees when they landed on branches that
couldn't take their weight. Butterflies everywhere, leaf cutter ants, giant
cicadas, bugs and beasties of every description and some fast moving dark
and bright green striped frogs which were feeding on the bounty
of fallen fruits. We didn't see the shy and well camouflaged sloths or
squirrels and we heard but couldn't see the woodpeckers, in fact the canopy
hides all manner of shrieking birds.
Exciting bus ride - eyes closed
and hang on. They are as cheap as chips and thunder along full throttle,
cornering is a gripping experience.
Outside the city it is a bit
like the buses, rather chaotic but great fun.
Dugout canoe. The harbour is fished
by local guys using nets from these canoes, they slap the water with their long
punting poles to drive the fish into the nets. There is a lot of baling out that
goes on as they seem to be very leaky vessels.
Nice place for lunch including a free
swim. (Also quiet thatched shelters inside one of which Lorraine, looking for
somewhere to change, discovered a couple trying to make more
Colombians......in a hammock!)
the evenings are generally in the 80s and when it's windy it is very
pleasant. During the day temperatures are in the 90s and with 90% humidity most
of the time it can feel hot and sticky. When we sailed down the coast to get to
Cartagena visibility was poor as the land hovered in mist like the steam
from a boiling kettle, sometimes that is just how it feels.