‘Cartagena is a port city on Colombia’s coast. By the sea is the walled Old Town, founded in the 16th century, with squares, cobblestone streets and colorful colonial buildings. With a tropical climate, the city is also a popular destination. Reachable by boast are Isla de Baru, with white-sand beaches and palm trees, and the Islas del Rosario, known for their coral reefs.’ Google
We can now say that we have visited South America. Cartagena was a lovely city and the Old Town, which is walled, was especially interesting.
Our tour guide seemed, especially, concerned for our safety and at one point on the tour, when we had thirty minutes of free time, he instructed us to not go anywhere with anyone.
Our guide also told us to not purchase the, purported, cuban cigars that were being offered by the numerous street vendors…as they were not really cuban.
We heard, at some length. of the damage that Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel had done to Colombia. He noted that all tourism had ceased when the Cartel was in force and that Colombia was truly a dangerous country, at that time, for both it’s citizens and tourists.
We visited the Palace of Inquisition.
‘The Palace of the Inquisition may today be one of the finest buildings in the city, but in the past it housed the notoriously grisly Inquisition, who’s bloody task it was to stamp out heresy in colonial Cartagena.’ lonelyplanet.com
There were many police, everywhere that we stopped, in Cartagena and they seemed very focused on keeping order.
Also, there were numerous street vendors who were selling everything from beer to cigars…and they looked hot and tired and often desperate.
We sat in a park that was in the middle of the walled city’s square. Here people seemed to be enjoying life and relaxing.
We visited the most decadent chocolate store…and they had free samples. You could help yourself…to all that you desired…with little spoons. It was delicious!
We also visited a jewelry store that specialized in emeralds. The little store was so packed that it was difficult to hear the introductory speech that the owner gave, regarding emeralds. Further, when we inquired regarding the price of an item, the language barrier prohibited us from communicating with the store employee.
At one point, during our short siting in the park…a vendor came by exclaiming that he had coke…’which was the beer of Cartagena.’ I mis-heard him and recounted, what I thought was a humorous phrase to Mary Jane. He heard me and asked, imploringly, if I wanted a beer? I did not want one…but I wish that I had purchased one.