Our 2008 Panama Cruise
Cartagena, Colombia

Page 8

This is our last Port of Call for this cruise. Cartagena de Indies is a very interesting and historic city. It is named after Cartagena de Espana which was named after Carthage, Tunisia which was called Qart Hadast in 227 BC. Enough history!

Due to a scheduling change, we only had 4 hours to visit the city.

We docked at a Marine Terminal at 7AM on the 14th day of our cruise. A huge container ship was unloading at the next pier. The condos and resort hotels in the newer "Bocagrande" district are in the distance.

The "Banana Ladies" and the tour busses were lining up as we docked. I counted at least 60 tour busses. We decided to take a taxi to the "Centro Historico" (Old Center) and just walk around because our time inport was only 4 hours.

This is the entrance to the Old Center It is called "La Puerta del Reloj (Gate of the Clock).

But first, a story: We left the ship and left the Terminal area and were immediatly assaulted by a mob of tourist taxi drivers. They wanted to take us on a taxi tour for 20 dollars apiece with 4 people in a taxi. We said "No, gracias" and plowed through to the street. There we were again attacked by city taxi drivers wanting to take us to the Old Center for 5 dollars, total.

We got into a taxi and, as we started moving, a guy jumped in the front seat with the driver. Mary Ann yelled something about who this guy was and why was he in the taxi (I think she was thinking MUGGING.) We jumped out of that taxi and decided to call off our trip to the Old Center and go back to the ship.

On the way back to the ship we settled down a bit and decided to try the trip again. The same thing happened: a guy jumped in the taxi. We decided to go on and see what would happen. We didn't get mugged, but we got a super hard sell for them to take us on a tour. I dug in my heels and poloitely said "No, gracias"

All the way downtown he kept at it. I used my espagnol and we argued a lot. He called us "Cheap Gringos" and even flipped us the bird. He was losing a possible tour fare and he was upset (so was I).

After the 15 minute ride we arrived at the Old Center, paid our 5 bucks (no propino), and went on our way as he was shouting some nasty stuff in spanish.

Not a good start to our day.

When you walk through the Gate of the Clock you enter the "Plaza de los Coches" (the Coaches Square). These buildings are "El Portal de los Dulces (the Candy Shops) and they epitomize the archetecture and colors of the Old Center. You see this picture in travel magazines.

On the pier we had the Banana Ladies. Here we have the Watermelon Lady. She was looking for tip from people who wanted to take her picture.

If one thing characterizes the street scene in the Old Center it's the street vendors. They are everywhere and they are seling everything from trinkets, to paintings, to Cuban cigars, to watches, to reccomendations on where to buy the best Colomian emeralds. They were almost as irritating as the taxi drivers. We didn't buy anything!

This is "El Convento de Santo Domingo" The "Conventos" in Antigua, Guatemla would look like this if the earthquakes hadn't toppled them.

The Old Center is actually a walled city. The walls are massive and help protect the city from pirates and raiders who were trying to steal the gold that the Spanish stole from the original Native Americans..

Here is a typical busy street. Most of the stores were selling tourist stuff but there were also a lot of local businesses selling things like shoes, dresses, baby stuff, food, and consumer electronics.

We wandered around for a couple of hours and headed back to the ship.

Even the taxi driver on our return trip were pushy. Two of them argued over which one would drive us back. We got in one cab and the other cab driver backed his taxi up to block our taxi. Our driver laughed and pushed him back and drove away.

Back at the pier we found a small aviary with a colorful toucan named "Froot Loops' It was worth a picture because we had seen so little wildlife on the trip. I don;t know how they lug around those big beaks.

One final picture: This is Jessica. She was our favorite waitress in the Windjamme Cafe. She is from Peru and I spoke some Spanish with her, but it was here winning smile and friendly attitude that endeared her to us. We gave her a nice tip at the end of the cruise.

That's it for Colombia and the Cruise. It was long and we saw a lot. The ship was great. We sailed 5466 statute miles in 16 days at sea. The food was too good. The places we visited were interesting. The people we met on the ship were friendly and they had a lot of tales to tell.

If you'd like to send me an email with your thoughts on this web site, click on my e-mail address below:

prstevens13 at gmail dot com

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