December 2014

By Steve • • 13 Dec 2014

Friday 5th December, Cartagena de Indias

We took a bus from Santa Marta to Cartagena.  Its a 4-5 hour journey along the coast passing through the large city of Barranquilla about half-way.  Colombian buses are a hoot.  As we set off a guy stood up and started a spiel about something he wanted to sell, I’m not sure what.  When he’d finished he passed out the item for sale and later on collected them again.  I didn’t see anyone buy one.  At each stop someone would jump on selling food and drinks,  Colombian street food is great and (touch wood) so far we haven’t had a bad tummy!  In Barranquilla we got a new vendor selling wallets, belts and perfume.  We bought a “genuine” Levis wallet for Sheryl.  Actually, it could be genuine, I’m not sure!

Cartagena is amazing.  Its the second oldest city in South America (no, I don’t know which the oldest is) and the oldest in Columbia.  A major port for the Spanish back in the day, the old town (Centro Historico) features massive fortifications built over a period of a couple of hundred years.  Francis Drake was partly responsible for this marvel of masonry having looted the city in 1586.  If you are really interested in the history then look it up in Wikipedia.

Here are some photographs to give you a flavour of the place…..

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There is some wonderful street art in Colombia's cities. This one in Boca Grande just south of Cartagena.

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A happy man!

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The Convento de la Popa, a wonderful building high above Cartagena with spectacular views over the city.

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Genuine Ray-Bans, honest!

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Colombia has a micro-brewery! Who would have thought? The Bogata Beer Company. These pints (and they really are pints) are of their Monserrate Roja, a well hoped English style ale, think Langham's Hip Hop or Dark Star's Hophead, excelente!

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One of Cartagena's many plazas, decorated for Christmas

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Teatro Adolfo Mejia

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Second hand book stalls in the Parque Centenario, Getsemani

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An Argentinian bar in the old town, Cartagena. The sign on the wall translates as "We don't have WiFI, talk amongst yourselves"

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Those are beaten flat bottle tops on stairs going into a bar.

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Fresh fruit salad delivered personally! Note the picture above and left of Sheryl's head. It features Messi and Maradona as saints and the caption is asking God to bless the business, Messi as a Saint? No problem with that, Maradona? Not a chance!

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A typical food vendor offering prawn cocktails, delicious!

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Torre del Reloj (The Clock Tower) gate into the old town of Cartagena

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Lots of butterflies on the trail

We spent the weekend and stayed in a small hotel, more like a UK B&B, in the nearby neighbourhood of Getsemani.  By Colombian standards Cartagena is expensive and our hotel cost us about £30 per night for B&B!  Whilst we really enjoyed strolling around the Centro Historico it is somewhat Disneyesque with its beautifully restored buildings, boutique hotels and up market shops.  Fortunately street vendors are allowed to ply their trade and keep the place from being too sterile.

Getsemani, on the other hand, is wonderfully seedy with lots of local bars and keenly priced restaurants.  It is also home to the world famous Cafe Havana which features live salsa music from eight until very late, I think we left around  two in the morning, although I’m not sure.

Wednesday 17th December – Monday 22nd December

Before getting to Colombia we heard about the so called lost city or ciudad perdida in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the mountain range to the east of the eponymous city.  It has the reputation of being Colombia’s Machu Picchu and I decided to take a look at it.  Access isn’t easy as you have to walk for 20Kms to get there and climb from about 400m to 1200m.  Then you have to walk back.  The fit and the young do it in four days but my party took a relatively leisurely six.  I went with a local guide, Miller, Jeff and Katie, fellow cruisers and a couple of Colombian brothers, Javier and Max.

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Mules on the badly eroded path

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The intrepid party! From left - Miller (the guide), Javier, Max, Katie, Jeff and yours truly

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Colombia's national butterfly

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Hammocks in habana

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A Kogi girl

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A Kogi village

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Repairing the trail

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Kept as pets on a farm

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The last habana before the lost city

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Some of the scenery is stunning.....

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Katie being hauled over a river!

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The "pool of youth" at the lost city

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Impatiens, aka Busy Lizzy

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Steps to a house platfrom

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Reconstruction of a house in the lost city

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Stonework in the lost city

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Ciudad Perdida - Colombia's Lost City

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Colombia's Ciudad Perdida (Lost City)

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This rock is supposed to look like a toad, or is it a frog?

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Location, location, location

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Some of the countless steps to the city

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Lots of butterflies on the trail

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