We landed, exhausted, and got ripped off in a taxi and paid double – but it was hot and humid and it was almost Christmas and we are in love. We’re in Cartagena.
We arrived at our hotel, Tres Banderas. We were instantly charmed with the waterfall outside of our door (But were later annoyed when the housekeeping staff stole my face moisturizer, sold us a crappy overpriced tour (almost 20,000 pesos more than it should have been), and messed up our shuttle so we ended up leaving nearly two hours later) and the squares nearby – lots of places to eat, cute shops, nice bars. We ate Greek food and had a couple of mojitos, and then passed out.
In the morning, I had an amazing run along the water and beach. It was wonderful. Wayne and I spent some time avoiding vendors and exploring the Old City, and then went to La Boquilla (by taxi, 12,000 COP) so Wayne could check out the kitesurfing beach. He talked to a bunch of different shops, but ultimately, the wind didn’t pick up. I drank pina coladas and ate more plantains in one sitting than one really should.
The next day, we walked outside of the city walls, through Getsmani, to the fort. (Wayne of the Old City: “It’s like Disneyland in there! This is the real Colombia,” of dodging trash in the streets and oppressive heat and overwhelming stenches and chaos and vendors and so much for the eye to feast on.) Walking there was a mistake as we spent the whole time feeling overheated and exhausted. After a struggle to get a cab back, we ate at the “Sandwicheria” and then headed to La Boquilla. Our taxi driver was a maniac who drove us onto the beach, past people slamming their fists on the cab windows. We left in a hurry, tossing the twelve thousand pesos at our driver. We found the very last kitesurfing spot on the beach to have the best gear, cheapest rates, and really friendly people. Wayne kitesurfed and I read magazines and books and relaxed.
The next day, we took a boat to Isla del Rosario (65,000 pesos, which is more than it was at other places). It sucked. The boat ride was pretty, but we rode out to a bunch of spots where our guide rapid-fire-in-Spanish told us what everything was. I missed a bunch of words. Then they told us we could either go to an aquarium (20,000 pesos), snorkel (40,000 pesos) or feed fish (25,000 pesos). Those who snorkeled said it was impossible because of the waves. We opted to sit on a bench outside the aquarium, reading, chatting, eating pan con queso y pan con arequipe. Then the boat took us to a beach, which was nice, but not as amazing as promised. We had vendors nonstop asking us to buy things – even while we were swimming. We were glad to get back, and I bought a few more bikinis on the walk back. Because it was Christmas Eve, many restaurants were closed, but we found an awesome one, Collages, where I tried aguardiente with lulu juice, and had veggie burgers and burgers.
Pretty, charming, lots of tourist shops, jewelry bought for V, great bikinis, cute shops, nice drinks, not really the real deal Colombia. But a lovely town regardless.