Thursday, April 01, 2010


Quaint cobblestone streets, pastel plazas and balconies brimming with bougainvillea make Cartagena de Indias one of Latin America's most photogenic cities.

Leigh and I have an avid interest in Pirates and Pirate history. When we were perusing the various excursions into Cartagena offered by the cruise line, we settled on the one we thought would give us the opportunity to explore The fortress and massive wall built around the city. That being the case the girls had no interest in joining us so we went off on our own. We had chosen the wrong tour for our purposes. We did stop by the fortress first for a 10 minute photo shoot and then it was on to a combined shopping trip with some historical wanderings thrown in.

At our fist stop we became painfully aware that this excursion was going to be marred by the gnat like presence of the in-your-face-sidewalk-vendors. Aggressive is an appropriate adjective to describe this onslaught at every stop. They stopped short of following our group into buildings or onto the bus. However they would come to the bus doors and thrust their wares at arms length in through the bus door in one last effort to get you to buy; sunglasses, belts, drawings, coke/water, jewelry, ad-infinatum of trinketry. It really did put a damper on the enjoyment of an otherwise intriguing city.

I should have know better by the time we came upon this brightly colored young lady. Who could resist taking a photograph for this traditional costume? After the photo was snapped her hand came out to ask for a dollar. Of course I paid her. Lesson learned!!!!!

A side walk painter painted a tropical scene on a mirror complete in about 5 minutes. Really very talented. Someone in our group did, infact, buy this souvenir painting.

You may or may not be aware of the fact that Since 1533 when Cartagena was founded it was the port where gold and emeralds flowed to the galleons bound for Spain. That fact was the reason the city was a frequent site for pirate attacks and of course the reason for the wall. And we did make numerous stops to visit shops selling gold and emeralds, as well as trinket shops galore.
Leigh and I are not shoppers.....'nuff said!

But the time spent in the museum of the Spanish inquisition and the various Churches appeased us somewhat.

Let it be known, if you ever doubted it, man has devised torture devises to torment his fellow human beings that boggle the mind and make "water boarding" seem like a little girls parlor game.
After our four hour tour we were definitely ready to return to the safety of the ship for some liquid refreshment and salsa dance watching. Yes I said watching. There was no way I was going to embarrass my self getting up on the dance floor with a bunch of Latins who'd been salsa dancing since the age of three.
A side note: The girls did venture, briefly, off the pier and the experienced the assault of the sidewalk vendors also. They knew exactly what we meant when we related the events of our tour.
Next: Santa Marta, Columbia



Blogger Churlita said...

That's how it was in San Francisco too. You couldn't take a photo of anyone or anything without someone demanding money for it.

4:23 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

Wonderful, wonderful! Have a safe and happy Easter, Rel. Cheers from Down Under!

7:36 PM  
Blogger Pat transplanted to MN said...

After the $1 photo op, I noticed great inanimate object photos....sounds like you are enjoying the break! Carry on!

9:31 PM  
Blogger Puss-in-Boots said...

I have read quite a bit about Cartagena and it's pirate history...fascinating. But the trip would have been spoilt for me also by the aggressiveness of the street traders.

BTW...if you find Captain Jack Sparrow...send him my way...heheh!

6:26 PM  

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