Yes Mr.Mercury, they DO make the world go round!
Trip Start Apr 07, 2013
12Trip End Apr 21, 2013
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We had read that the people here are exceptionally nice, and we got to see why first hand even as we stepped off the plane. The wind was blowing hard and we had a short walk across the tarmac to get from our plane to the departure gate. A young woman was struggling with two babies and the wind was blowing her very long hair all over face, making it even harder for her to walk. Without saying a word one of the airline security people ran to her, took a rubber band out of her pocket and put the lady's hair in a ponytail to keep it out of her eyes
We grabbed a taxi from the airport and got dropped off at our hostel ten minutes later, using those precious few kilometers to re-acquire the complete indifference necessary to take a taxi from point A to point B without having a stress-induced heart attack every four seconds. After a while away you forget just how crazy they drive over here! We're staying at a pretty cool place called Mamallena Hostel. Imagine that the guys who started Mellow Mushroom decided to open a backpacker's hostel. Lots of hippy looking people walking around and walls covered in "are you high?" type graffiti. I even sprung for a private room, but Brittany has yet to show proper appreciation. "There's no hot water! There's no air conditioning! The mattress is one inch thick!" Pshhhh, I think she's gone soft. I guess we'll need to slum it in a dorm again for a few nights so she'll remember how good she has it ;) Sadly, the bliss-inducing five dollar rooms of Guatemala are nowhere to be found here, and things are a lot more expensive than I expected. No more than you would spend in the States, but definitely high by backpacker standards. It's a good thing I love street food, because it's all we'll be eating for a while!
After dropping our bags on the bed we headed right back out for the ten minute walk to the Old Town. Our hostel is in the walled city itself (we're in a section called Gethsemani) but there isn't much to look at where we are
Whatever you're looking for, you can find it here. The vendors sell fresh fruit (many of which are so exotic they don't even have names in english), freshly squeezed juices, skewers of grilled meat, arepas and more. It isn't just food that you can find, there's even a statue (among dozens of others) of a massive yet oddly attractive "fat bottomed girl". I need to read up on exactly what it was, but Brittany thinks a Colombian artist famous for sculpting generously proportioned celebrities made it (see picture below, look in lower left corner)
Beyond the streets and buildings is the fortress wall protecting the city itself. Cartagena was a critical port for the slave trade in its hay day (is that how you spell that?) and massive walls were built to protect it from invading armies and pirates. The wall is hundreds of years old, and we walked along much of its six-mile length. I love being able to touch things built so long ago; it makes me feel connected to the past, as if I can envision the craftsman building it with his own hands. There are cylindrical lookout turrets scattered all along the wall. They're very pretty to look at, but get too close and you discover that they stopped being turrets many years ago and have now assumed a much more dignified purpose: hobo bathroom. Brittany found that out the hard way; we're hopeful her nose will recover.
After many hours of walking the town we found a fun-looking courtyard (one of the loud ones) and a restaurant with a set menu for $24,000COP. We must have been the only ones there and the waiter was happy to take us to a third floor balcony we didn't even know existed, complete with candlelight and a fantastic view of the courtyard. Unfortunately that's where things got complicated
It was about 9PM when we headed back to bed and the town was still coming to life. Tables and chairs were coming out of every restaurant for a patio meal and crowds were coming out of nowhere
Mission one for tomorrow is to get the debit card working. Ugh, I'm already getting that punched in the gut feeling again...