Cartegena, Colombia. My impression of the city is of a very busy place with lots of Colonial-era buildings, some of which are falling down, others which have been renovated and are spectacular. Narrow one-way streets with many cars and many more people. Many poor people on the streets, not so many beggars, but many people with small stands where they sell mainly fruit. Many small stores with tons of people in them. Many police and guards at the entrance to each store and in each store. Not many Christmas decorations but enough to remember Christmas is coming. Very Catholic - we went in two churches and there were services happening in each - in one new priests were being initiated, in the other, it seemed to be a regular service. Lots of tourists on some streets, on others, very few. A walled city. Busy. Traffic. Loud. Active. Vibrant.
This is the clock tower where the cab driver let us out. It's famous in the town. I think it's part of the wall which encloses the entire old city. I found the juxtaposition of the old tower and the new highrise behind it interesting.
The gentlemen in white shirts you can see in the photo were waiting avariciously for tourists to get out of cabs so they could accost us to offer us walking tours of the city, Panama hats that fold up to postcard size, passage to the jewelry stores where they sell emeralds, passage to places to exchange money, or anything else we might want. We had at least 10 people come up to us and speak to us for at least 30 seconds each. I hated being rude and was very friendly, saying, "No, thank you." but then eventually I got to where I wouldn't even look at them, just ignored them, and let them keep talking. that made them stop. They were really annoying - AND I completely understand that they need to make a living!
I didn't see many people who appeared to be this poor, but there were some. In general there wasn't enough room on the streets for people to sit like this without being stepped on. Perhaps that helped with the problem of begging. No room...
|A typical Cartagena house in the old city. Christmas decorations on the balcony.|
The Cathedral was a pretty building, but not magnificent with gold and silver like in Portugal. The building itself definitely had European roots though, as did the many houses we walked by.
We wandered into the German/Colombian friendship house or something like that. It was delightful to see many German, or actually Austrian, words painted on the walls. There were many words I didn't know, very unusual ones like one that means letting go completely into trusting that all is well. That's a concept I hope to master one day but which I only understand conceptually, not experientially so far!
We saw this very inviting-looking courtyard after we'd been walking around for about 2 hours and were as hot as I can remember ever having been. It is a spa and a restaurant. We were bold enough to walk in to take a better look but didn't feel like paying the premium to eat there. I just wanted to lie down in the blue water and let it flow over me. Did I mention it was HOT outside??
|A woman selling baskets in the streets. She was so small and the baskets so large, I wondered how she could carry them all.|
Gerlinde and I finally found a place to sit and rest our weary selves. It was a small cafe with only a few tables but with lots of cool furniture - Victorian sofas and chairs with very modern upholstery. We sat at a table with comfortable plastic green chairs. The woman who waited on us was very nice and understood my Spanish better than I understood hers, so I got to order what I wanted, but I didn't know exactly what it was!
It ended up being a beautifully presented plate full of fried foods - 2 dough-encased eggs that cooked as the batter cooked; 2 empanadas - meat encased in fried dough; then 2 servings of fried dough with no enclosures (sort of like a Dunkin' Donut), all served with homemade salsa, lime slices, sour cream, and slices of red and green peppers, beautifully arranged. It was an aesthetic delight and WAY too heavy to eat much of, but I very much enjoyed the presentation! I also got a smoothie made of the freshest coconut, pineapple, and mango. It was fantastic! Absolutely fantastic! Gerlinde took a picture of me enjoying my first sip which I'll include here if you promise not to blackmail me with it! You can see how hot I was from the sweat dripping into the drink from my hair. The fruit gave me great relief!
Many of the houses were wonderfully picturesque with plants growing out of the most surprisingly small plots of dirt. I love the colors and patina of this wall. There were bars on all of the windows. For protection, I'm sure, but also because there are no screens on the windows, so they use bars so the windows aren't simply open completely to the outside - at least that's my thought about it.
I love this door knocker. I would have gotten one to bring home if I could have found one!
A bakery we saw from the street. If we had taken the time to exchange money, we certainly would have bought some! It smelled fantastic!
I was interested to note that the manakins weren't all skinny white women with thin lips. Instead, the women were curvier, darker, and had thicker lips. The guys had dark hair. The one blond man I saw (right) had the broadest shoulders I could imagine. He was bizarre looking!
|Christmas decoration surrounding a large palm tree - a Christmas navity scene.|
A flower market, but, ironically, in such a tropical country, almost all of the flowers were artificial! Bright, silken, and fake! That was quite a surprise to see!
I wish I could read what this says. I tried to speak to the man to ask him what sort of documents he fills out, but he just pointed to his sign. There were 8-10 people sitting there with their typewriters filling out forms for folks. If you read Spanish well enough to know what this says, please let me know! I'm so curious! I asked if it was for people who couldn't read or write, but he said it wasn't. Curious!
|The second of two beggars I saw in Cartegena.|
|This gentleman was creating pillows and such using this crafting method. I don't know what it's called.|
|It's hard to see what this is, but it is a bunch of bottles wrapped in yarn with corked wired together between the bottles, all of which are insand. Quite festive and strange!|
|a map of where we've been so far. Sorry it's hard to see.|
So, that's it for today! It was fun taking the time to write all about yesterday. I think I pretty much missed Colon, Panama - we have to be on board again shortly - but I needed time to catch up with myself and to remember where I've been. Writing is so helpful for that. Even if no one reads this blog, it's helpful for me to write it so I remember what I've seen and what it meant to me. I am finding it difficult to absorb so many sights, sounds, and smells - (there were many of each of those in Cartegena), but it's amazing having the opportunity to try! I'm very grateful to be here seeing so much and experiencing so much!
Til next time! Alles Gute!