The walled city of Cartagena is quite spectacular. You get the feeling you're on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride at Disneyland or watching "Romancing the Stone" (the movie supposedly took place in Cartagena, but was actually filmed in Mexico). The modern part of Cartagena stretches along the Caribbean to the south, but we decided to stay within the walls of Old Cartagena. Our hotel, The Bantu, was a small, boutique hotel Mike found on booking.com. and it was even better than expected. We arrived a bit early and were served fresh, orange smoothies while our room was readied. The hotel was constructed by combining two houses, each one being 300-400 years old. The brick wall above our bed was original to the house and was left in place to show the old construction methods and materials. Whoever designed and decorated the hotel did a great job. Two colorful toucans reside in the courtyard, where a swing hangs from the tall tree whose branches are incorporated into the railing along the second story walkway. We were told the toucans, brother and sister, were always nipping at one another! We just settled into our room and laid down for a quick nap, when loud hammering and pounding assaulted our ears. We ignored it and fell asleep for a while, but were awakened when the noise continued. Mike opened the door to see what was going on and one of the room stewards explained that an emergency occurred which needed immediate repair. The front desk called and explained that the problem was unforeseen and would likely take several days to repair. We were offered another room, which we immediately accepted. The second room was a bit smaller, but just as nice and most importantly, perfectly quiet. We enjoyed a second, yummy drink courtesy of the hotel, as a "sorry for the inconvenience" gift. Good customer relations.
When all the luggage was transferred, we opened our suitcases to get a change of clothes and discovered items in our bags were wet AGAIN! It was probably a result of the huge rainstorm that occurred at the Medellin airport. It was not as bad as our Cali experience, but what are the chances this would happen twice on one trip?
We left the hotel about 3:00 p.m. to walk the city. The heat hit us as we left since the AC in the room had been shielding us from the scorching, midday temperature. After twenty minutes of sweating, we hopped aboard a horse-drawn carriage that took us on a tour inside the walls. People still actually live in many of the houses, though there are hundreds of little shops also. At one point, dozens of people headed toward us up the narrow street. Apparently, a mass at the Catholic cathedral on one of the squares had just finished the evening service. How unique that the people still live in this walled city 300-400 years after it was founded and attend the cathedral that is also that old. It was a great afternoon in a colorful and exotic place. Our day walking and touring ended with a glorious sunset.
Amy Face-Timed with us after we got back to the room, so we could sing "Happy Birthday" to Livi. Logan showed us his new walking skills and Grant and Ethan did a good job looking cute.
Tuesday May 13
Today when we ventured out, we took lots of water and dressed light. We wandered the narrow streets of the city again enjoying the small shops and engaging in people-watching. We walked along the seawall which encompasses the city on the ocean side, passing by the cells which housed the "cargo" of men, women and children taken off the slave ships. These cells now function as tourist shops. We walked and walked until Mike could walk no more.
Two Days in Cartagena
Wednesday May 14
We packed our bags for the final time and headed to the airport in a taxi. We were SO excited to be returning home to our family and friends. Doesn't KR look ready (Cartagena boarding gate) to board that plane to Houston?