Sunday 5th July 2015
I met Clare and Ryan near their hotel at 10.30am. There were plenty of taxis nearby, we asked for the price to the castle, the guy said 6,000 COP which was the price we had been told to pay to get there. We got in and a few minutes later we were there.
Here is the Castillo de San Felipe de Bajaras built in 1537 and which got constantly attacked by the French and the British. (Ah those French and those British…seriously! 🙂 )
While queuing for a few minutes to buy the entrance tickets, there was a lot of sellers of hats, sunglasses, bags, t-shirts and water, tourist tours, and little things. The street vendor selling water kept repeating “Necessito beber agua. No quieres soffrir.” Something like this. “It is necessary to drink water, you don´t want to suffer.”
What I found awesome was that once you said “no, thanks” once, they did not insist in trying to sell you something. And most of the time they kept their distances, not being in your face like in Egypt or India where street vendors can be extremely pushy. It was a great contrast and does make you think, actually, maybe I could do with a hat. While the street vendors in Egypt and India in particular are so pushy that no matter what, you do not want to buy their hat anymore anyway!!! I really liked that they respected tourists! Fingers crossed it stays like this.
Walking towards the castle:
At the top
View from the top towards one side.
There was this baseball game playing at the bottom of the castle, with cool music.
View of the castle from that shooting spot.
View of the landscape on the other side.
View of the castle from that shooting spot.
There were a few tunnels so we went through them to explore a bit. Here is one.
After this walk in a hot hour of the day, we took a taxi back to Cartagena centro and went to this KGB place to have a drink, it was a funny place.
From the window we could see this woman beautifully dressed in a Creole way selling fruits.
Then we had Mojitos and Colombia Club beer and sandwiches in a Cuban place on the left on this photo of this street.
Then it was about 2.30pm and time to say good-bye. I was really happy to have met them both as I actually didn´t really chat to anyone else otherwise during these 3 days, but actually I could not have met better people to hang out with for my first days! The fact that they were living in London where I used to live for 3 and half years was for me a strong connection, and they both happened to be exactly the same type of travellers, mindful, knowledgeable, educated, funny, humble and well-experienced into the world of independant travels, I really loved our chats!
Actually I remember writing in an article of my South-East Asia trip 3 years ago about the fact that when you travel, you actually always travel twice more, because you keep meeting people who tell you stories of the places they went, as talking about travels is the favourite topic of travellers! Clare and Ryan had awesome stories, and I almost felt like being with them in Borneo the day when macaques were scaring them and they didn´t tell a German guy and when he reached the macaques and the dominant male one tried to scare him, instead of running away like they had done, the German guy just punched the macaque back in the face and cleared the way!! I also imagined sitting in the taxi with them in Bangkok the day where a mosquito full of blood kept buzzing around their faces and when they snapped it, it exploded and splashed blood all over the taxi interior which is something crazy and the taxi driver was very unhappy with them! Or the moment when Ryan broke his leg by twisting it in Estonia and called his friend in the night to let him know he was in hospital and that friend was in a bunk bed in the upper one and when the phone woke him up, he picked up the phone and fell from the bed breaking his foot which means they both finished in hospital!!!! How crazy those stories are!!! Love them!
So here we were, saying good-bye. Clare and Ryan went to enjoy their last day in Colombia at the pool before a romantic dinner and shooting off to New York for a few days before to get back to London and I went walking a bit further around the streets to enjoy my last day in Cartagena and later go blogging which is really one of my pleasures when travelling, so I was glad to have some time for myself too!
I ran into this beautiful building. I had already walked past it but had not noticed it fully!
I saw a few people today in the streets carrying heavy loads on their head like this woman.
There was this beautiful painting inside the Cartagenia Police station which I found really represented the quintessence of what Cartagena is. It has it all.
I passed again the plaza where I had met Clare and Ryan 2 days before where the iron statues stand. I liked this one as it reminded me of the woman I had photographed earlier.
Here is the plaza, buzzing, although interestingly we do not see on it all the various comedians / performers who usually stand there doing soap bubbles, acting like if they were sitting on nothing, being Darth Vader or Yoda. Cartagena has not been reached by that yet. Just people hanging around, kids running after pigeons.
Got the Maritime Museum.
Some of the beautiful bags sold at the entrance.
This is the kind of canoes the native Indian tribes used to navigate in.
Cartagena was originally a village called Kalamari until it was “founded” in 1533. There lived native Indians in round huts. The Indians of the Carribean believed that they were the descendants of Anamaroka. Anamaroka was a Spiritual Being in a shape of a snake born from a son of the sun and a daughter of the air. I find that interesting that in the Aboriginal Dreamtime, one of the important mythical figure is also a snake. So many belief systems have the snake as a very important role in the origins of the world. It was a really interesting part of the museum to learn about the first inhabitants before Cartagena was created there.
What I was looking for was to understand how the pirate Francis Drake had conquered Cartagena with his vessels. Well, here is the story short. He arrived with about 3,000 men on a lot of big boats. About 1,500 men went in small canoes to the city. There the city was divided between immediately surrendering or fighting. One guy decided they should fight. So they tried but they were outnumbered. Then Francis Drake said ok we can stop, but you give me X amount of money. They pretended they could not, that it was too much. So he was not happy and destroyed the cathedral which was in construction. Then they said ok, we give you the money, here it is, or at least they gave more than what they pretended they were able to. So he said fine, and left and then went to the Queen Elizabeth I and told her the city was fine now, and she gave him some money too. Right, if you don´t like my version, there is always wikipedia. 🙂
That museum was definitely fascinating with all the stories of naval battles, there were plenty being told! There were also beautiful maquettes of boats like this one.
After the museum, I wandered the streets in search of a really cool bookstore that I had seen where I wanted to go later in the day. Took me a while to find it, but finally here it was! Abaco it is, on Calle de la mandilla. If you ever make it to Cartagena and fancy relaxing for a bit with a book and a drink, this is a great place.
But first I went to some grocery store before it closed and bought some food to cook in the evening.
And then I did something I had been willing to do the last 2 nights, cram in one of the alcove of the fortress and read a book while watching the sunset and the grey pelicans passing by, protected from the wind. I would really recommend taking the time to chill out there, all these alcoves are beautiful spots to relax where many people go to read, listen to music, contemplate, or have a beer with friends or spend some time as a couple. You better get there early, there are limited spots and they fill very quickly! ;-P
After that I went back to the hotel, made some quick dinner and headed to Abaco. What a beautiful place. It made me think of the awesome library in Eumundi near Noosa where people also go for coffee and books.
I ran into this book and spent a good hour reading it and browsing through awesome shots! There were plenty of El Cocuy and that made me look forward to being there even more!
On the way back I saw this little girl and brother playing with the motorbike of their dady, that was cute.
Et voila! 🙂
Tomorrow, heading to Santa Marta!