This blog is more of a pictorial tour of Cartagena. We didn’t stay long enough for me to learn much about what I was seeing, but the city is striking! It may not be the oldest city, but it has much higher quality architecture. We are fortunate that Sir Francis Drake did not burn it to the ground when he captured it like he did Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Drake did burn Santa Marta as well, which may explain its lack of historical-looking buildings. However, it could also be that Cartagena was the capital of the Spanish holding in the Caribbean, so more effort and expense was put into Cartagena. Regardless, Cartagena is rich in culture, color, beautiful architecture, delicious foods, and artistic murals. I wish we had a few more days to explore this delightful city.
The pictures below may be out of order, but the band and dancers were together in a town square and entertaining for tips. Everywhere we looked, vultures were lurking. It was as though they were waiting for some catastrophe. It was kind of sad to see the Hard Rock Cafe. We really enjoy experiencing the culture of the places we visit and escaping our overbearing American culture. But even here it is seeping in.
It is legal to drink alcohol in the streets, but I thought it was funny to see Jason drinking behind the policeman’s back. The doors are remarkable for a few reasons. They are massive! The huge doors are only opened for special occasions when a house is thrown wide open to welcome guests. The family uses the smaller door cut into one of the large doors. The knockers used to be a sign of wealth, status, and occupation. Lions were politicians or dignitaries; sea life represented mariners in trade or other merchants, iguanas and lizards were wealthy high-ranking families. The artwork with tiles of people and household items were an art project where the tiles were given to children and they were told to use the ones that represent their situation. Some had stuff, some had nothing. The upside down house was done by a homeless man who used to have a house and a family but he lost it all. His entire family died. So sad! Two sloths mysteriously appeared in the park. There are various stories about how or why, but the one that holds the most weight is to boost tourism. We were lucky to spot this one in the hundreds of trees.
Street food is hugely popular. We even took a street food tour of the city. We love taking these tours in new cities to help us get acquainted with their local foods as well as the architecture and history. In the video they had quite an assembly line going for their hamburgers which were in high demand. Steve and Dave were dying to try one, but they turned out looking better than tasting. Well, you can’t win them all.
Next up, we continue our bus tour and visit Mompox on the edge of the Rio Magdalena. Mompox is a colonial town that has not been much changed by time or tourism.