Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Colombia/Panama Day 4: Cartagena- Walking tour por mi cuenta

It is hard to believe that I was in Bogota earlier today.  As the taxi drove towards the airport (focused on the news broadcast and not on me) I thought about needing another day in Bogota.  There is so much random art in Bogota, and I didn't have enough time to enjoy it.  
I flew to Cartagena (which isn't my usual style but it was almost the same cost as a bus but takes a 1.5 hours instead of 20; the Andes are a nuisance).  
I got a cab to San Diego, the neighborhood I am staying in.  
There's no place like home.  

After checking in to my hotel I started walking.  This is the corner closest to my hotel, Casa Alejendria.  
I already love Cartagena.  

Cartagena was designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1984, 451 years after is was founded.  It was an important port for the Spanish empire and a favorite target of pirates.  Stone fortresses and the walls of the city are evidence of its past.  

I went from 2,600 meters (8,600 feet) to 0 in just a few hours.  It is hot and humid, like the Latin America that I know and love.  I cooled off with a strawberry covered orange popsicle.  It was so good but had to be eaten quickly before it melted (and not because I am a popsicle pig).  

The walls of the city remain around most of el Centro and San Diego.  It is free to walk along and enjoy.  

I got a little lost as I was walking around.  I found a small fish market on the side of the road, and also found myself alone with no other tourists to be seen.  I got photobombed by the lady on the left, little did she know her death stare made my picture wonderful.  
A fight broke out on the street soon after I walked past this area.  The police ran by me as I walked quickly away.  I couldn't help but think of the nice woman I sat next to on the plane today who told me there was no way she would ever let her daughter travel alone in Latin America, and she was Chilean!  
I made a terrible mistake twice today, I assume that people are from Colombia because they are in Colombia and speak Spanish.  One lady was from Venezuela (I thought she worked at my hotel but she was on vacation) and the other was from Chile, on her way to an engineering conference.  Woops!

As I was wandering around I got a little lost but was found.  I ended up at a place I wanted to visit, Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, Cartagena's strongest and largest military fortress.  

I have visited a few fortresses in my day, but this was the first one that you could walk through the interior.  There were not lights in most of it, and it was ridiculously hot and smelled like urine.  I was nervous about getting robbed, but even more nervous about someone hiding in the dark and saying 'booo!'.  I didn't want to drop my camera...

One of my favorite things about Latin America is the survival of the fittest factor.  There are no railings on the edge of the fortress.If you die, you die, so be careful.  

Although I love Cartagena and think it beautiful it is almost a culture shock coming from Bogota.  With the weather change and change in culture I feel like I am on vacation from my vacation.  It really became apparent in el Éxito (a Colombian grocer chain).  When I was at el Éxito in Bogota everything was organized perfectly.  I watched an employee flatten bags of sugar before neatly stacking them.  In Cartagena everything was a mess; on the shelves, the lines, everything... It took my 30 minutes just to check out, as everyone in front of me seemed to have two or three family members that they were holding spots for that were still shopping.  I have to take back my comment about Colombia being the first place a foreigner to Latin American travel should visit, it should specifically be Bogota.  
Men are more aggressive in Cartagena,  like the rest of Latin America. Telling me how beautiful I am... rude!
I love Colombia.  This is just much different than where I was, and will take some getting used to.  What Cartagena lacks socially it makes up for architecturally.   

1 comment:

  1. Okay, so tell me again why it's rude when everyone tells you you're beautiful? I think I need to go to Cartagena for an ego boost.

    I love all the colors in these photos. How funny that you're in San Diego.

    Your photos are amazing.
    Thank you for bringing us to Colombia. I'm loving this 'arm chair' trip.


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