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Published: November 13th 2011
Ok guys so it’s finally my turn on the blogs! Mike has finally relinquished control and is putting his faith in me to keep up his good work, I just hope I can do it justice and not lose any of you dedicated followers…..so here goes…..
After a short plane journey from Panama City we arrived in Cartagena, Colombia. Customs and immigration were far easier then we had ever imagined and compared to the couple of hours we had been spending at border crossings this was a real breeze. After a few simple questions from immigration and a quick x-ray of the bags we were in a taxi and on our way to Cartagena Old Town to the hostel we had provisionally chosen. The hostel itself was pretty basic to be honest and not very cheap however it was in a great location, slap bang in the middle of the Old Town and right on one of the main plaza’s so we couldn’t grumble.
Now true to form, it was again raining when we arrived, pretty heavily as well I might add so we had to wait a while for it to pass before we could go exploring. Unfortunately,
but predictably I suppose, when it has been raining and then stops, for the rest of the day most places become ghost towns, and Cartagena was no exception, the streets were pretty quiet and a lot of places didn’t seem open. However we did manage to meet the local entrepreneur within minutes of stepping out of the front door, I really don’t know how these guys do this, tracking down fresh blood, it’s a real talent, one though I suppose must come in handy in their profession! This guy promised us he could arrange anything and he meant ‘anything’ that we may need during our stay he even showed us his reviews from previous satisfied customers. I believe one card read ‘Top geezer, if you need anything, I MEAN ANYTHING, then Johnny’s the man, signed the Chelsea boys’ what more of a recommendation would we need!!! When it comes to these guys I don’t know why we continue to tell them our names, I suppose making a name up seems a bit extreme, however I don’t think Mr ‘Johnny Walker’ felt the same about lying as we did! So with Mr Walker’s business card in our pocket, he was pretty
insistent we took it ‘just in case’, we were on our way and our mission then became, try and avoid Mr Walker for the rest of the day. A mission that proved impossible in a small town such as Cartagena, it’s always great to hear your name being shouted across a square or a restaurant and to see the local ‘entrepreneur’ waving at you with the local police just inches behind him, wonderful!
We spent the next few days enjoying Cartagena and everything it has to offer. It’s a beautiful city with a lot of charm and character, when the sun was shining it felt like a completely different town, the streets were busy with people, tourists and street vendors alike, all the shops, of which there are plenty, were all open and you were spoilt for choice when it came to food, whether you fancied local street food or top end cuisine you couldn’t go wrong. The weather was on and off but we had become accustomed to this and it didn’t really prove to be a problem, we visited the sites and museums and sampled as much local cuisine and refreshments as possible. We even spent one
day at the nearby mud volcano, Volcan de Lodo El Totumo. El Totumo is a 15m mound which spews mud, forced up by pressure from underground. You climb the rickety stairs to the top and then bathe in the cool mud, this is supposedly good for your skin however I’m not sure I felt any difference after, you can also pay for a massage whilst in the mud however we declined this option as it was basically just a guy rubbing you, not something we both felt particularly comfortable with. To say it was a strange feeling would be an understatement, when you enter the mud you instinctively try to swim however this isn’t necessary or possible! You basically rely on the guy to move you into your spot and then you try to stop your legs from floating up or in to someone’s face, all the while trying to avert the mud being slapped onto you by Mike…. I just wasn’t covered enough apparently!! After a lengthy time in the volcano you make a quick walk down to the river to wash away the mud, a service for which you can pay for but we’re pretty good at washing
ourselves now. After this we made a quick drive to a nearby beach for a tasty lunch of fried fish, rice and patacones, yum, a good day trip out of Cartagena.
There’s just one final thing I would like to mention before I sign of as it made us chuckle, we happened to arrive in Colombia at quite a pivotal time for them as elections were coming up the following Sunday, this meant a lot of places would be closed during this period and there was a ban on selling alcohol on the Saturday before and on the actual day of the election. No biggie we thought we can do a couple of days without a beer not a problem we’ll have a nice fruit juice or something instead but it wouldn’t hurt to ask would it??? Turns out the ban wasn’t being tightly controlled and a couple of beers promptly arrived on our table only they were incognito as a fruit wearing cocktail, a new way of drinking a beer but not the easiest and one we have not since revisited!
So after five days in Cartagena we was moving on up the coast to Taganga and
Tayrona National Park, however our experience with Cartagena was not over just yet as we were due back in a week for some badly needed Spanish lessons!!!
So ciao for now amigos.
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