Excerpt from the Journal of Olds – Day 424-426 – Colombia – Cartagena – Part 2

Duly suffering for my excesses and lack of sleep we said our heartfelt goodbyes to our many amigo’s and hopped on the minibus for our transfer back to Cartagena. This was a tough journey for the shell of a man my recent exploits had left me but I made it and was delighted to check into our very nice final hotel and whack the aircon on full. We whipped up some French bread sandwiches from the supermarket and set about sleeping it off.

After breakfast we set out to circuit the city walls of Cartagena. Touted at 11km I’ll be surprised if it’s anything like that. It didn’t seem to take us too long and we stopped at a gallery and a few other spots along the way. Our first impressions of Cartagena remained true but we enjoyed it nonetheless. That night we found an Italian restaurant and enjoyed a hearty meal.

It was our final day and night in Cartagena so we organised a tour to see the remaining sites for the afternoon and after a few errands returned to enjoy the hotel patio and catch some final rays. The afternoon tour started poorly taking over an hour to get going and then speaking entirely in Spanish despite us buying it on the basis of it being an English speaking guide. Our Spanish has reached a point where it’s adequate to organise and acquire but still relatively child-like for any kind of conversation and completely undone by historical Spanish.

We were a little annoyed but Fi spoke to the fella who was leading the tour who knew nothing of his rogue English guests and to his credit then repeated all the main points to us separately after each stop. We visited the symbol of the city – a brass sculpture of a pair of old boats essentially symbolising that you should love Cartagena like you’d love a pair of old boots (nice touch I suppose).

We were then ragged up a hill to the Convento De La Popa, a monastery overlooking the city. The monk who founded it apparently got the memo from the big G while catching a few Z’s in Bogota to build a monastery on the highest point. He wandered up and found a load of Indian immigrants worshipping a gold goat so demonstrating true religious tolerance he lobbed the gold goat off the side of the hill. It was a good panoramic of the city but photos were pointless due to the typical haze and smog of any city these days.

We then visited the Castillo de San Felipe built as a land fortification to protect Cartagena by the Spaniards. One part was built then taken by a pirate so another architect was brought in who constructed a much larger series of fortifications focused on a series of batteries, each one higher than the last and focused on bombarding the last should it be taken. A few other innovative designs were highlighted and we wandered the odd tunnel here and then until the final sunset of our trip came down over the city in the distance.

We were then driven into the old city to a market we’d already visited where we made the mutual decision with a chap called Nicholas to hop it and leave the tour as we were close to our hotel and it was all but over anyway. We nipped back, got cleaned up and visited a reasonably priced but fairly swanky local cuisine restaurant where we enjoyed a few ropey Margaritas and some fine food.