Saturday, August 21, 2010

A la Cartagena

After a few days of mental recovery, we finally got the motivation to leave the Taganga area for good and resume our travels. (Question: If you get mugged in a small town and then can't seem to find the urge to leave that same town afterwards, is that a form of Stockholm Syndrome? Opinions are welcomed, as long as they don't include any derivative of the word "lazy" or synonyms thereof.) Beautiful Cartagena is our last stop on the Caribbean coast and our Colombian swan song before we depart Sunday for Peru. While the city now boasts over one million inhabitants and remains an important commercial center in Colombia, it is likely most famous for its historic center along the Sea which the Spanish fortified as their main port into the Americas some centuries ago. Visiting the Old Town has been as good as advertised - I'd liken the outside wall to a slightly less impressive version of what Dubrovnik has to offer, but the streets inside the wall, as Kristin said with much delight upon our arrival, "are just like Europe".

The people in and around Cartagena could obviously tell that we were in need of some affection and we must have looked a little run down, because everywhere we've gone here people call us "friend" and try to give us stuff or massages. And since true friends know what is in your best interest even better than you do at times, our thousands of Cartagena friends simply refuse to take "no" for an answer and insist on trying to give us their things or begin massaging us even after we have declined. In all seriousness, despite what we had read prior to arriving, the level at which we are constantly badgered has been much worse than I was expecting. In contrast, likely because of all the negative things we read about them prior to arriving, I have found the beaches in Cartagena to be pretty decent, but trying to walk down one of them with white (or in my case, slighly pinkish) skin is a little like covering yourself in honey and then running through the bear enclosure at the zoo.

A more pleasant surprise in Cartagena has been that the food variety and taste in the area we are staying (outside the Old Town, where the prices also look very European to us) is probably the best we have had on the trip to date. In addition to the abundance of fruit which has been typical of our Colombian experience, we have found ethnic and vegetable dishes which we would be happy to eat back home. The ugly side to the food here and elsewhere along the coast is that it has been cutting down people we have met like crazy and sending them to the latrines like a Frank Costanza Korean War flashback. So far, we have managed to get by in this region relatively unscathed, but we are patientily awaiting our turn to suffer.

Our pictures from Cartagena are here.

Lastly, in an effort to boost readership and fill in the many gaps I left in describing our time in Colombia, I believe that I have finally been able to talk Kristin into doing a post. Her taking over will give me the opportunity to relax for a couple of days, as well as the opportunity to become outrageously jealous if her posts turn out to be better received than my own. Should be fun.


  1. In some of your Cartagena pictures I can't help but notice that there appears to be something dark on your chin. Knowing you, I can only assume that it must just be leftover mud.

    Good to see the blog and photos are back in action.

  2. Hey Jim, the Jerk Store called....

  3. Love the photos... the new camera looks like it takes very flattering pictures of muddy folks also.... nice camera (hee hee)
    Keep on trekking

  4. The new camera looks great! Ironically, I just got my Lonely Planet guide for Peru yesterday (plans to go in the New Year). Can't wait to hear all your stories/ help with my planning. And Kristin - I believe the Rum ads could help fund your travels. Great great picture!!

  5. Thanks, girls.

    Darlene, the mud does cover a lot of imperfections. For me, sucking in the belly and constantly flexing takes care of the rest.

    Carol, we just got to the Cordillera Blanca range today but the trekking opportunities look amazing. And I agree, my wife looked stunning in that rum ad photo.