Cartagena

Trip Start Feb 07, 2006
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Trip End Aug 07, 2006


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Flag of Colombia  ,
Thursday, July 20, 2006

Make sure to check out Andrea's Travel Blog for more stories and photos of our trip!

Time to say Goodbye

We flew from Quito, Ecuador to Bogota, Colombia. After 5 months of traveling together, this is where me and Andrea would part ways. She was going back home early to see some family who were in town and I was going on for 2 weeks to Colombia.

From the flight we could see that Colombia was lush. A very green country. We must have been high above sea level because we could see the valleys and hills touch the clouds. So many clouds that an odd effect took place making the clouds seem like smoke from a raging fire floating up from the grassy earth to the skies.

At the airport, Andrea was connecting on a flight going to Canada. We waited together for a bit before deciding that the anticipation was killing us. We had a sad farewell goodbye 1 hour before our flights left.

We had been traveling together for 5 months now. We joked around realizing that this would probably be the last time that we would spend so much time together before we retired.

Colombia - First impressions

People seemed nice here. One man came and chatted me up while I waited at the airport. I made sure to eye my bag while we talked to make sure no one slipped a bag of white powder in my backpack. Paranoid, but it never hurts to be careful.

Oddly, the "Don't bring these things on the plane" sign which most airports have was different here. The actual devices where on display.

... don't bring a gun read next to a silver pistol. A knife, a dagger... and on. The board seemed like something Scarface would have kept in his closet!

Cartagena

When I arrived in the city it was late and I didn't want to just hang around the streets with my backpack in the dark. When I left the airport, I followed a taxi driver a few blocks away from the taxi stand before realizing that this guy probably wasn't legit.

"Where is your taxi?" I asked

He made up some weird excuses like cars couldn't go down to the taxi stand... which made no sense because there were 10 taxis waiting for passengers. My gut told me that following him with my pack on down a dark street wasn't a good idea and I turned around and headed back to the taxi stand as he yelled at me to come back. I ignored him and took a legit, yellow cab into town.

The streets were old and colonial buildings were crumbling all around. Each doorway had 2-3 locals hanging out there. Even though it was getting late, the streets where full of people, many of them came up to me and offered one thing or the next. Having just arrived and not having found my sense of security yet, I didn't pay much attention to them and headed for the first hostel I could find.

Only a dorm bed was available but I didn't care. I spent the rest of the night drinking beer and chatting with my new room mates.

Casa Viena was a popular place. No AC and boiling hot but I didn't really care anymore. I checked into a double room and chatted with some other backpackers to get the scoop.

It wasn't long before we decided to meet up later to see some museums. We visited the old town which reminded me of some old colonial fort towns in Sri Lanka. Crumbling buildings, churches and lively streets. Cartagena was a beautiful old town where the streets where alive with locals.

I spent the rest of the day around town and watched the sunset from over the fort wall sipping a beer.

That night I meet up with a friend from the night before and after a few too many beers went to bed.

Unfortunately, beer and heat didn't mix well. I sweated all night and woke up with a massive head ache. The brutal heat didn't help so I headed back into town to find a café, some tasty Colombian coffee, and welcomed AC!

Once rehydrated and cooled off, I took some time to walk around and bumped into Fiona, an Irish friend I had met the day before again and strolled through the old city.

Fiona had been here a week already and was able to show me some safe street vendors where tasty potato snacks and fresh fruit juices made a great meal.

Floating in a Volcano

1 hour away from Cartagena lies a small volcano filled with warm muddy goop. I joined a tour and went to visit. I didn't expect much, I'd been to mud baths before, but this was different. A handful of gringos went along and we all jumped in. The mud was thick. The pit was 2000 meters deep which meant that you couldn't feel the bottom. The mud was so dense though that you could barely move and floated at shoulder height!

We tried to push ourselves down but would just bob up and down in the mud.

After experimenting a little with swimming in the gravity defying mud, we left the mud volcano and rinsed off in the river before heading back happily surprised at the unique experience.

Leaving Cartagena

Although I didn't really want to leave, I packed up and left with Fiona heading west to Tyrona park, a national park which apparently had the best, secluded beaches in all of Colombia... and in my opinion, the best beaches in the world!
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