Published: January 26th 2012January 26th 2012
It's hard to believe that we are now in South America and it is easy to find one word that sums up our day in Cartegena, Columbia. And that word is: enchanting. This is the first time the Queen Elizabeth has visited Colombia and the locals were clearly delighted we came. We went for a wonderful ride in a horse-drawn carriage all around the old town. The houses are wonderful bright colours and they have flower clad balconies. But life here is not lived in the houses. It is lived on the street. You couldn't count all the fruit sellers, and the vegetable stalls, and the bags, and clothes, and cigarettes, and bottles of brightly coloured liquids and the fresh fruit juice vendors and the pots and pans and anything else you could think of. It's all for sale on a pavement in Cartegena. The people are the friendliest we have ever been privileged to meet. Everyone tries to catch your eye and smile. We soon got in the swing of things and were shouting "ola" and waving and everyone shouted "ola" and waved back at us. Old men, young children, families, policemen, even the street cleaners. They all said hello and waved and smiled. It really was truly enchanting.
And hot! 31 degrees today and an awful lot of humidity. We are only 10 degrees north of the equator now and deep inside the Tropic of Cancer (which in itself takes me straight back to my O level Geography classes). After all the excitement ashore we came back to the boat and crashed into a much needed siesta. Then, once the worst of the heat had passed, we went up to the 9th deck for a couple of swims in our favourite pool. It is still an exciting novelty to have to go into a pool to cool off ... in January!
It's Burns Night tonight so we enjoyed a very Scottish themed dinner. Our Norwegian friends ate Haggis, we ate Scotch Broth and there were tatties and neeps and Scottish salmon with some amazing garlic langoustines as a topping. Richard and one of the other guys washed it down with a dram of pure malt and we'll be going to the theatre in a short while to watch a Scottish comedian.
The whole ship is buzzing now with talk of tomorrow because it's definitely one of the highlights of the trip as we are crossing from the Atlantic to the Pacific via the Panama Canal. The transit takes about 10 hours in total so if you're able, it may well be worth taking a look at the web cam on the Queen Elizabeth part of Cunard's web site tomorrow. The pilot comes aboard at 6.00 am which is 11.00 am UK time. We get to the first lock at 7.45 am Panama time or 12.45 mid-day in England. I presume the best view is not from either the ship itself or from its web cam though; it would be from the land watching the ship go through. But we may have to leave that for another holiday!
It's lovely reading all your comments on Facebook. It certainly makes us feel like we're not so far away after all!