Carthage has been a city on the Spanish coast for almost 3,000 years. Initially it was named after a city in North Africa by a Phoenician general. A few generals later, the one named Hannibal left from here to conquer lands to the north, starting the journey with 90,000 troops and one hundred elephants. He was able to cross both the Pyrenees in France and the Alps in Switzerland with this enormous invasive force. The people who chose to remain in town became immensely wealthy as they worked the silver and tin mines in the area until the 1980’s. The town has preserved the facades of the impressive homes they built, but people live with modern conveniences inside. Carthage’s naturally protected harbor has sheltered it from harm from Mother Nature and other human invasions. Today the Spanish navy is based here.
Although it is a modern, very livable city today, it seemed like we were never more than a few steps away from encountering its ancient history. It has a museum, which focuses solely on underwater archeology, since so many Roman artifacts have been found beneath the waves nearby. In 1988 after an apartment block collapsed, the remains of a Roman amphitheater was found beneath the debris. Today is is beautifully restored. Every time someone decided to do a little construction, they encounter more Roman treasures. Since we were here last in 2009, a whole Roman bath complex has been excavated, complete with some intact pillars and enough mosaic tile decorations that you don’t have to use your imagination too much. We could still see the tracks Roman wagons had made on the paving stones on a nearby street. A street sign with a phallus carved on it, indicated that this was a street for houses of ill repute. Ironically, our guide said that the modern street that had been above it was known for the same sort of activity.
Near the harbor we ran into a bunch of old women dressed in elaborate costumes. Some looked like traditional Spaniards; others looked like they just came in from outer space. There was some sort of senior citizen festival going on, but we never did get a handle on it. We had another group of golden oldies come onboard to perform for us. They have a strong desire not to lose the customs and traditions they grew up with and teach their grandchildren the old songs and dances. Their energy was infectious. I also saw a few heart defibrillator machines here and there along the pedestrian mall. Old people are valued here.
Since we can’t go more than an hour without eating something, we took a break for some special Café Asiastico that came in layers. At the bottom was condensed milk, then a layer of espresso, then a layer of a local liquor that had been flamed so all that remained was the taste. Cinnamon was sprinkled on top. And of course, a piece of cake was served as well. If we keep eating like this, we're not going to get much older.