Robin & Jean's Travels travel blog


A very cloudy morning, then sunny in the afternoon. (Some light drizzle once in awhile.)

We went down to breakfast at 7:00, and met in the lobby at 8:00 for our walking tour. We were introduced to our local guide, Samuel, and we walked (minus Kippy who was not feeling well) over to Plaza Fernando de Madrid. He did a quick orientation, then we headed down the street. We arrived at the first corner and we stopped. Here Samuel pointed out the four corners. It was here in the old days that separated the neighborhoods into social or economic groups: the rich, the aristocrats, the middle class, and the poor.

He also pointed out the differences in architecture. The pre-colonial period made of just wood, colonial style (coral, brick, volcanic rock materials) with thick walls and wooden balcony, republic style (cement balconies), and finally the mix of colonial/republic styles (taller than two stories with long & short balconies). In 1575, Sir Francis Drake came to Cartagena. Drake needed 400,000 pieces of gold to not destroy the city. Unfortunately, a shipment of gold had been sent to Spain the week before. The mayor was only able to gather 150,000 pieces of gold from the citizens. It was not enough, so Drake fired one shot into the city, destroying the cathedral. After that incident, the republic style of architecture was started, stronger materials and thicker walls.

Along the way we picked up a wounded dog hobbling on three legs. He just started following us for the whole walking tour, up to us getting on the party bus.

We then walked down to the main square by the clock tower. It was here that slaves were traded. The port was near the square. They were sold by 3 "pieces." Usually a young stud for muscle, a female for the woman of the house, and a older person who knew other languages (Portuguese, Italian, etc) to be a translator. Most of the slaves were brought here by the Portuguese.

We stopped at the statue of Pedro de Herdia. He was sent to establish a city of Cartagena. Before it was a city, it was just a port. Today, Cartagena de India is a city of 1.3 million, the 5th largest in Colombia. We were in the historic section which had been surrounded by a fortress wall, of which most still survives to this date. The modern city is nicknamed "Little Miami".

We then continued to walk the district. We stopped at the Basilica Santa Catalina de Alejandria. There was a Botero statue, nicknamed "Gertrude" (we had seen his works in the museum in Medellin).

On one of the side streets, we encountered an artist that could do a painting on a 5x7 mirror in 2:00 minutes. He quickly started with the oil paint and narrated in English as he painted the sea, mountains, trees, etc. He was very good. Some of the members bought some of his pictures.

We continued the walk of the area. We passed through one archway that had pictures of Miss Colombia on tiles on the floor. There were two Miss Colombias that had won Miss World. We stopped at the San Pedro Church, which was near the museum of modern art. There were statues along the plaza in front of the church. that were very interesting.

After the WC stop at the museum, we walked over to our Cheva bus (think chicken bus). We hopped on and we had three passengers, a band who played for us on our ride out to the fishing village. It was our party bus! Diego had the bus stop to pick up Club Colombia beer and sodas for the trip. Since it was an open air bus, people would hear the music and wave. A good time was had by all.

We drove out past the airport. There is a lot of construction happening in Cartagena, both road and buildings. As we got near to the mangrove section (which is protected) next to all the classy hotels/apartment buildings (for those getting out of the city), it was like a switch was flipped.

We were now in the poor section of La Boquilla. The people were not smiling and were looking at us strangely . There are no roads in some sections. The cars and buses use the sand on the beach as the road. The sea was lapping on one side of our bus wheels as we drove slowly along the water.

Our party bus stopped at a little restaurant (?) on the beach. These are very basic places, simple. Most have hammocks in which to rest, of which Jean took advantage. Many in the group took their shoes off and waded into the Caribbean Sea.

We were offered a choice of drinks, coconut water in the shell, or a coco loco which is made with coconut, pina colada, rum, etc. While we were waiting, Samuel talked about local rums in Colombia. And Diego then supplied us with a taste of rum, Jean and I shared one. The restaurant? supplied us with some appetizers, fried plantain with shrimp and snails and lime. Some of us had our coco loco coconut split open and the gentleman scooped out the coconut meat to eat.

After we were ready, we hopped on our regular tour bus (which had followed the party bus ) back to the San Diego section of the city. On the way, Diego took our order for our lunch at Crepes and Waffles out past the city. We had five choices from which to chose: vegetable crepe, chicken crepe with mushrooms, shrimp curry w/spinach crepe, Mexican crepe, pana crepe with pepper steak, Greek crepe.

Once we got on the causeway, it became very bumpy in the back of the bus (needs new shocks?) when we had to over multiple speed bumps. We arrived at the Crepes and Waffles, a very nice chain restaurant. We did a WC, then sat at the table for our preordered selections. We both had ordered the chicken crepe. It was very delectable. For dessert, Diego owed us some ice cream, so we went to the ice cream case and got two scoops either in a cone or cup.

We then hopped the bus to return to the hotel about 1:30. The rest of the day was on our own. Yeah! Free time! So we returned to the room until 2:30, then we went shopping. I found a hard cover Harry Potter book and bought it. It was printed in Spain, which makes sense for all of the Spanish speaking countries. And Jean found a white blouse, not exactly what she was hoping to find, but close enough.

We returned to the hotel with our purchases. We left a note at Kippy's room, then we walked up to the roof to see the pool, spa, hot tub, etc. We relaxed in the room until 4:30, when we went down to the lobby to see if we would be alone or have company to the Hard Rock Cafe.

Kippy met us in the lobby, not to go, but to tell us she was not going. She has been sick all day. She went out with Pam, and they walked to the Hard Rock so Pam could purchase t-shirts. But, Kippy still felt sick and was going back to bed. So we were on our own.

We left the hotel and heard music in the square. Two bands were playing, one would play, then the next would play, back and forth. We watched for just a little while, then we walked down to the Hard Rock. In the square next to the Hard Rock were two more bands playing!

As has been the case at all of the Colombian Hard Rocks, no one speaks English. (In every other international HR, they have a staff that can speak English.) We just ordered two limeades and had two appetizers, spring rolls and wings. Neither of us was too hungry after the big lunch at Crepes and Waffles. After we finished eating, we took the usual pictures of the HR logos with one of us in the picture. Then I hit the Rock Shop for a shirt and two pins.

Then when we left there were mucho horse carriages looking for riders. Jean did not want to do that. So we walked back to the hotel, but almost got run over with all of the horse carriages in the streets. We met Richard and Margie who were going out to the store. Then we went to the room and settled in for the night. Except for the fireworks that went off at 11:00.

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