Monday, April 11, 2011


At 0900 in the morning there was a knock on the boat and two young women, Paula and Jessica,  were standing in a dinghy next to our boat offering to act as our agents to check in to Columbia (you need an agent).   We agreed a price with them and after cleaning up the boat and checking into the Club Nautico Marina, we handed our passports and boat documents over to these virtual strangers.  Scary, but all of the other cruisers assured us that this is how it is always done.  All the same, we heaved a small sigh of relief when they were returned two days later.  
Cartagena's colonial charm and the old walled city, the Ciudad Amarullada, with tiled roofs, balconies and flower-filled courtyards  is a joy to wander about and get lost in.  We closed off our first day with an afternoon walk through the beautiful old town, soaking up the vibrancy in the squares and watching some amazing street dancers and musicians.  

On March 5 we boarded a bus at 0800 (with Kees, Martha, Ralph and Suzan) for the 2 hour ride to Barranquilla for the carnival.  This carnival is said to be second biggest in the world, second only to Rio.  The bus dropped us off eight blocks from the parade route.  As we approached the centre the excitement built, starting with a little music, some decorations and a few vendors and culminating in a huge explosion of sound, decorations, crowds and music.  We haggled a little for chairs in one of the shaded stands along the route.  The eight of us appeared to be the only non-Columbians in attendance.  Excitement continued to build during the 1,5 hour wait for the parade to begin.  During this time, our tent became rowdier and more friendly and by the time the parade arrived we were all sharing snacks and laughing when frequent showers of shaving foam  sprayed over us from some of the more boisterous viewers.  The parade was a fantastic mixture of costumes and music ranging from very professional dance groups to single strangely clad exhibitionists.  Good  fun.  After two hours of enjoyment the parade was still in full swing but our bus was waiting. We bid goodbye  (and  exchanged Facebook names) with our new friends and walked up to the bus stop, pausing briefly for an empanada on the way.  

On Ralph and Suzan’s last day in Cartagena, they (and Kees and Martha) kindly invited us along for a day of exploration.  Our first stop was at the impressive Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas.  This fort offers great views from the ramparts and battlements and an exciting underground tunnel system.  We were also given a fascinating explanation of the ingenious development of fortifications built up to protect the city from pirates and other unwanted invaders.  Our second stop was much less enchanting.  Although the Boca Grande beach is surrounded by high rises and hotels it still has the potential to be a beautiful spot for a swim.  Unfortunately garbage lines the shore and aggressive vendors push their wares into your face whenever you stop walking for more than five seconds.  I was actually chased down the beach by a women who smeared a yucky cream on my back and wanted to be paid for a massage.  Needless to say, our stop at the beach was rather short.  At the end of the day, we wandered the lovely cobblestone streets of the old city and happened upon a perfectly lit little courtyard with a lovely garden and eclectic and interesting furnishings.  The food matched the ambiance and we ate interesting and delicious mixtures of seafood.   Slurp!   

In Cartagena we finally met  Jeff and Jose from Stravaig, the sailboat we passed on our way to Cartagena, face to face, and spent a couple of evenings sharing a gezellige borrel.  Sometime you meet up with people that you would like to have time to get to know better.  Sadly, this was not to be but we waved a fond goodbye and a hope to meet again.  

Our departure from Cartagena was followed by a windier than expected but safe and uneventful sail to Porvenir in the Kuna Yala province of Panama.  

No comments:

Post a Comment