December 16th, 2007 – by: AndySD
Large fortress on the edge of the walled city
Cartagena is a very beautiful city. The old city is enclosed in thick walls and protected by several old fortresses. In some places the walls are 40 feet thick and 40 feet high. The huge fortress overlooking the city on the hilltop is quite impressive with a labrynth of passageways inside the walls of the fort and great views over the city and ocean. The old city ajoins the new city of high-rise condos and a fancy harbor. The old city is very charming with narrow streets and old crumbling buildings mixed in with well restored old buildings. It just has a great vibrant feel to it with so much happening on the streets with street vendors selling all sorts of food, drink, and goods. While the historic center is very touristy and there are lots of people trying to sell you things, most people seem very friendly and the overall everything seems very safe, even at night, despite the fact that the age and deterioration of the buildings make things look unseemly at times.
On top of the fortress looking toward the old city
Although it seemed a little much when they were putting money into the ATM in the main street that they did so with handguns and shotguns drawn and ready, even though they were only moving about 30 feet. The money is kind of ridiculous with 2000 pesos to the dollar, I am literally a millionaire here, I guess there is a first for everything, but hopefully it won´t be the last time. The prices are all over the place, some things are really cheap, a good meal at a local place including soup, fruit juice drink, and a plate of rice, beans, and meat is about $2, and most street food is under $1. Other foods are priced similarly as in the USA. A 600mL coke is about 1400 pesos. The strange thing is the number of drinks you can buy in a plastic bag, they sell water and various fruit juices all sold in bags.
The fortress and some of the newer parts of the city
Unfortunately, being on the Caribbean, it is oppressively hot and humid here, to the point where you don´t want to move around during the middle of the day. Which is fine since I have a lot of stuff to catch up on on the internet today. Of course I stand out tremendously when walking around as I am about a foot taller and hundred shades whiter than most of the people. The communication is still mostly a one way street as its really hard for me to understand spanish when people speak to me. I´m sure that will improve but for now I´ll just have to get used to it. Tomorrow I think that it is on to Santa Marta
, a few hours busride up the coast, where I will hopefully be able to trek to the Lost City.