Cartagena, Colombia Is a Lovely Place
January 21, 2009 by rtwsenior
I´ve had a wonderful two days wandering about in this fortified Old Town, the most famous part of a famous city. There is a New Town also, with high rise apartments and offices that resemble many Florida beaches, but the Old Town is the place to be. Fortunately, my lovely guest house is right here in the center of things.
The weather is so consistently pleasant – hot and sunny – that the houses are completely open, without walls to insulate them from nasty weather. To the street, there is nothing but wall right to the sidewalk and entry is gained through huge castle-like, wooden doors. But, once inside, everything is high ceilings and cool darkness, tile floors and antique furniture, the common areas opening onto a greenery-filled patio space, which I understand many modern folks have filled with a swimming pool. I love the garden idea much better and banana leaves swish in the breeze and birds flit and sing all the time. The bedrooms have walls and doors that lock, but no glass in the windows – just wooden dowel decorative bars. Mosquitos are kept at bay by a burning citronella sort of thing in its own screened pot. High ceilings and fans keep up the air circulation. My window and door opens onto the patio.
All over town, there are green parks every now and then and always the vendors with their carts full of fresh fruit or souvenirs. There are also a few touts who work hard to get you to enter a jewelry store and even if you were headed there anyway, they open the door for you and thus put their claim on a commission from any sales made. I didn´t buy so it didn´t matter, but I knew what they were up to.
One gruesome visit was to the House of Inquisition which displayed the many instruments of torture and execution used during the two-hundred-year bloody history of the Catholic Church´s persecution of anyone who might have acted suspiciously in their estimation. Since Cartagena was Spain´s primary link to South America, the Inquisition was particularly heavy here and that atmosphere was still horribly evident in this large and proud house, which reminded me of the way the KGB buildings always felt on my visits to the Soviet Union. This one gave me the same sort of creeps.
But, nearby was the Museum de Oro, or the Gold Museum, which gave a good history of the Pre-Colombian people who populated this country before the arrival of the Spanish. So much gold and so much beautiful design and clever solutions to life´s challenges. What a fine people they were!
Cartagena is also filled with lovely shops that must be similar to every Caribbean port city. Therefore, there are also many cruise passengers about, moving in their groups and following their guides in museums. A very lively place alright, and not an inexpensive one. But, a good rest and a happy time.
Now, we shall see what Ecuador has in store. Colombia has proven to be lovely, welcoming and safe.