Saturday, 19 October 2013

Cruise - Cartagena, Columbia (Oct 9th)

Well, it was hard to come down from the excitement of the Panama Canal. Definitely something that should be on a person's "bucket list".

We awoke this morning, sliding quietly into yet another port. It was already about 30 degrees Celsius (90 degrees F) and the highest humidity that we experienced. The camera lenses kept fogging up when we went outside!

Cartagena looks to be a very cosmopolitan city, at least on the rich side anyway and that is what you see from our side of the ship. In my opinion, it is far from that. Doug and I had arranged for an excursion into town. It is a self-guided walking tour of the famous walled city. It starts with a great guide, Alex Rocha, who takes you on a bus and points out some highlights of the area, like the Fort of San Felipe for example. Anyway, back to our guide. Alex is an exceptional man. He is father to 6 children (ranging in age from 11 years to 23 years) By his description, he was blessed to have had a father in the police force which enabled them all to go to good schools and to learn English. This changed their lives for the better and all his siblings have also done very well. In turn, Alex's children all go to college and school. Alex is an English teacher, tour guide and runs the Alex Rocha Youth Centre.....

The Alex Rocha Youth Center is located in Cartagena, Colombia and
its main purpose is to have a safe place for kids and keep them
off the streets by teaching them art, music, languages,
crafts, the creation of jobs and the word of God.
He was a very inspirational person and we enjoyed our time with him. It was he who told us about the many problems of Cartagena. Mostly it is rife with corruption and poverty. Poor health care and so many kids not going to school. There is still a very large presence of drug movement in this city. He says they are slowly changing things and the government really has Cartagena on it's radar but the changes will come very slowly. The stories of corruption he told us were incredible. For example, the rapid transit system was to be finished in 2002. Some stations were built and it was realized in 2008 that there was no more money. No one knew where the money had gone. Now the half finished stations sit idle. There are no trains and homeless people now make their ways to these stations for sleeping. Pretty sad.  Always the same, education, education is what makes these changes.

The colonial architecture within the walled city is incredible. It is just what we thought it would look like. This wall was built in and around the mid-1500's. Pretty impressive. Here are some great photos:


Never miss an opportunity to paint a scratch on the hull.
See the guys' heads that are just visible? They have rollers out and are painting!!
Yikes!! Alex told us that the guy on the right is actually an "illegal" motorcycle taxi" They have no permits, usually no license and drive like crazy men, for about $1 per ride. He also said that there were SO many accidents with these guys. Still, no one stops them....

Alex Rocha....

Fort of San Felipe

Everywhere, these little yellow cabs....
I love these pictures of people just doing their own thing...

 The church is within the walled city. So beautiful...

 I can never get over the fact that there aren't many things in Canada this old!! 

Yes, we were "those people" following Alex, the man with the flag....

 Within the walled city, it is very clean.


See the gentleman with the white slacks and black bag. I shall
refer to him as "table-cloth man". He followed us ALL day....
Always, always time for foot shots....

 Just a regular business day...

"Simon Bolivar, the founding father of Columbia, Bolivia, Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador and later Peru. He was a South American soldier who was instrumental in the revolutions against the Spanish empire. He became involved in the resistance movement and played a key role in the Spanish American fight for independence."

We loved the buildings and the beautiful plants and flowers... 





Ahhh...look who we see, table cloth man, again!



Yup, still! I am wondering if it looked like I had a big table at home??

Just a regular work day...


Inside of the wall
 The roads are built all the way around the walled city.
The cruise ship is parked on the other side of those tall buildings...


And look who we found, Mark, Susann, Carmen, Julie & Martin!!
They arranged their own tour. We were glad to see them out having fun too!!

And just one last time....table cloth man.
No, he never did sell that thing to anyone!!!
Anyway, we did enjoy our time and never felt uncomfortable. We just aren't sure why Princess Cruises bypasses Mexico (most of it) and is okay bringing people into a city that is, by it's own description, struggling with crime and corruption? Things that make you go hmmm. However, this is why a person travels, so they can experience new things and get an appreciation for others around the world, right? 
See you in Aruba next!!
Cheers friends!!

1 comment:

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