Today we were in Cartagena, Colombia, South America.
This was the first time we did a private tour instead of a Disney excursion. We went on a city tour guided by Marelvy Pena-Hall who has been touring since the 1990s. She’s Colombiana and her husband is an artist from Pittsburgh. There were 18 of us and it was $55 a person. The tour was worth it even though it was a sunny and humid 82 degrees today. (My hair actually held up!)
Marelvy with Cartagena in the distance
When we got off the ship, we were welcomed by the locals. The women in the beautiful dresses are from the only culture in Colombia that speaks a mixture of African and Spanish. In the old city, if you take their picture, they charge a dollar. They have an abundance of emeralds and flowers. Also 15% of the biodiversity (different types of species -I had to ask Melvin what that meant) of the earth is in Colombia. They export oil and import gas because they don’t have refineries. Gas was $6.00 a gallon!
Banged in Cartagena
We started in Manga which is an island within the city of Cartagena de Indias (Cartagena for short). Went to the top of a hill to La Popa which used to be a monastery for a perfect lookout over the city. On the way up the windy road, our van got banged by another van. Nobody was hurt but our driver was pretty upset. There were a lot of motorbikes along the way known as mototaxis. They pick up a person and they pay a fare just like taxis. They are working on a road that will have bus stops. Folks are used to catch buses like we catch a taxi in the U.S. They get on where they are and get off when they need to get off. Marelvy said that folks will not be happy with bus stops.
The Old City
This place was the best part of the tour for me. I loved the spanish colonial architecture. The folks paint their houses every year before Christmas because the rainy season lasts from April to November.
Pictures around the Old City
Espiritu Santo (Holy Ghost)
Marelvy took us to where the locals go for lunch called Espiritu Santo which translates to the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost. Melvin and I shared a ribeye steak platter with plantains, coconut rice and salad for $10. They didn’t speak english so we ordered through Marelvy. It was a nice clean restaurant with air conditioning…until the electricity went out so we had to move to the front where we could see what we were eating. Good thing they cooked with gas.
I enjoyed Cartagena but didn't like the pushiness of the vendors. They would hold stuff up in your face until you walked away or said "no gracias". They would even knock on the windows of the van to try to sell you their stuff. It was very annoying at times.
Melvin said he could come back because he liked the history, pretty buildings and architecture. He said there was a lot of life here. I could come back but not as a tourist and just "be" in the culture with the locals. If you're in Cartagena, check out Marelvy.
We’re pushing off now and heading to Costa Maya. After two sea days, we will be there on the day the world ends 12.21.12 (according to the Mayan calendar). I asked the cruise director if there would be t-shirts. He said that since some people take it very seriously, so Disney wouldn’t be celebrating it. Shucks.
By the way, the ship scraped the side of one of the Panama Canal locks yesterday. It scraped rocks into one of the porthole windows. By the time, we got outside, they had repainted the side of the ship.
Tonight is Pirate night so we’ll be going to the Pirates of the Caribbean party and the late night buffet. Will share pix of that later.
Have a great night mateys!