Thursday, 20 April 2017


Flying in Colombia is interesting as the airlines don't  translate anything to English, or do safety demos, or any of the other things you might expect.

We landed in Cartagena around 10pm and I knew at once I was back in the tropics. The hotel was in a narrow alley and I was a bit bothered by the half naked old man shouting in the street but everyone else was friendly and he was inaudible from my room.

In the morning we wandered around the old city more or less aimlessly, doing a large section of the walls. Then found a museum in the old Inquisition building. Most of it was in Spanish but one translated section listed their targets as Heretics, witches, Jews and solicitors. Obviously practicing law was a serious matter.

In the afternoon we went to the fort of San Felipe. This is basically a hill that has been built over so much with fortifications it looks like a giant building. It is riddled with tunnels some of which are open to visitors. In the longest one, returning from deep underground I found my way blocked by a man with a laugh like a cartoon villain. "Bwahahahaha" he bellowed on seeing someone in his way. I squeezed against the wall and he led a small group past before breaking into a high pitched cackle this time.

Ate dinner on a rooftop enjoying the view of people dancing in the square below.

Today was a boat tour to a nearby island. Nice symmetry with the boats in El Nido at the start of the trip.

I had expected to visit several islands but instead after a long wait at the port it went like this. We were jammed into an oversized speedboat, it took a large group but bounced over the waves spraying everyone the same way. After an hour we approached a beach and a woman shouted something that sounded like "Princess Alma", which resulted in her getting off the boat. Ten minutes later we were at another busier beach and the captain made a long speech in high speed Spanish. Some more people got off.

The boat sped on for another 30 minutes and stopped by a building on a rock in the middle of the sea. We could see a group of people swimming in the distance - another speech but this time no one got off. Then we went to what turned out to be an aquarium, where there was finally a rough translation of what was happening. That we had the option of a dolphin show or snorkeling. I opted for snorkeling so went with the, now nearly empty boat, back to near the building on a rock. Where we hired snorkels from the captain and jumped in. The fish were colourful but the reef was mostly dead and not a patch on El Nido.

Finally we returned to the second beach now even more rammed with people where a lunch of fried fish was served. There was a rumour we had to stay for three hours but it turned out to be only two (still at least 45 minutes too long). After lunch I walked to the end of the beach and tried to remember some climbing moves on the rocks. Swam a bit and then had to wait.

It wasn't even sunny but the crowds still did the classic, let's pay to lie on a plastic lounger and do absolutely nothing.  I was reminded why I don't do normal beach holidays.

Now back on shore.

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