Friday, May 10, 2013

Cartagena (Bienvenidos a Colombia!)

After just over a month in Costa Rica, and a month in Panama, we arrived safely via sailboat (Gitana III) in Cartagena, Colombia.  We pulled into the enormous harbor at about 4am, and had to wait til about 8 to disembark.  That whole previous night, the sailing was fairly smooth, but there was a massive electrical storm across the sky over the Caribbean.  Pretty incredible sight to see...

About 8am, we jumped aboard the dinghy, and Guillem motored us into the dock, and we stepped foot for the first time on Colombian soil.  We were tired and pretty hungry, and the first mission was finding an ATM machine so that we could all figure out the exchange rate in Colombian Pesos...

We stayed the first 2 nights, along with the majority of the Gitana crew at Media Luna Hostel, which is on Calle Media Luna, in Cartagena.  Place was cool looking, but overpriced.  They advertised a pool, and it was a 'cesspool' that was about 2 feet deep.  Other than that, we all enjoyed a big dorm room together, that we had to ourselves, along with Johann, the German guy who showed up late that night.  Cami and Gonzalo, the Argentinians from the cruise, found a private room across the street.  We took their advice after the second night, and found Hotel Marlin, literally right across the street, that was half the price, for a private room with a private bath.  Ended up staying in Cartagena for about 10 days.  One of the nights there, James invited the two of us out for dinner, which was incredible.  Good wine, and seafood, right on the beach.

Cartagena is a gorgeous city.  It is full of color, and culture.  The street food is amazing!  There are many small restaurants that have great breakfasts, for cheap, and amazing smoothies.  Our favorite one was called "Locombia," on Calle Media Luna, where they serve a delicious breakfast, and make any kind of juice smoothie you want.  Also, the best coffee, ever.  There is a giant several-story mall full of computer and electronic products as well, where you can most likely find anything you need along the way.  (My girlfriend found an adapter for her Ipad, to upload photos from her SD card from the camera), which was impossible to find anywhere else, even in Panama City.

Best espresso I've ever had, at Locombia, Cartagena

Cartagena is full of night life, almost every night of the week.  There's always live music somewhere nearby.  Don't forget to walk around the wall of the city, there's some great lookout spots, and the old city (behind the big yellow clock) is also nice to check out.

One word of advice (warning really), is, in certain parts of the city, you will be bombarded with street vendors trying to sell you everything you DON'T WANT!  Sometimes you really need to just turn your back and walk away (or run)...It can be pretty annoying, and of all the places we've been so far, Cartagena was the worst for this!

Some tips on Spanish language differences in Colombia:

Instead of saying "de nada," or "con gusto," for "your welcome," which is very common throughout Central America, and Mexico, Colombians say "a la orden," which is kind of interesting, meaning literally, "to the order," and I had a hard time figuring it out at first...

Also, certain fruits and veggies change names from Central to South America, such as "Naranjilla," which is "Lulo" in Colombia, and other parts of South America.

Hot peppers, which I'm used to as "Chili Picante," are "Ají" in South America.

Stop signs, which usually say "alto" in Central America, now say "pare" in South...

The typical colorful Cartagena buildings...

Part of the Gitana crew...Daniel, Sarah, Me, Danica and James, at 'Demente'
The 'Demente' Staff

Hanging with Gonzalo and Cami in the square

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