Welcome to Cartagena de Indias, the most visited place in all of Colombia.
My first observation about Cartagena? It is not Colombian, It is Caribbean.
It sits on the southern shore of the Caribbean Sea and the personality is more like that of other Caribbean cities (e.g., New Orleans), rather than the other cities of Colombia that I have visited. It's not just the steamy tropical heat compared to the cool temperatures of Bogotá. It's not just the architecture, which is very Caribbean-colonial. It's the whole water-side, tourist-centric vibe of the place.
The Office Manager for my dentist described Cartagena this way: "They have these walls around the city. And the walls keep all the poor people out and the rich people in." The historic old city within the walls is one giant tourist bubble. So let's have a look at life inside the bubble, shall we?
I am staying at the Hotel Casa de Arzobispado, a small little "boutique hotel," as they say. The name translates to "Archbishop's House." I believe this is said Archbishop here on Calle de Arzobispado:
One thing I want to point out, referencing the fact that my hotel is on Calle de Arzobispado, is that here in the Old City, every street changes its name EVERY block. And I don't mean "it seems as if." No. The name changes each and every block without fail.
Tomorrow I should be better able to explain what all this is. I'm scheduled for an English language city tour to be given by a man named "Chocolate."
I do think this is Cartagena's Plaza de Bolivar. Every city in Colombia has one and I think this is the one for Cartagena.
I think that's a banyan tree, but I'm not an arborist. There was some sort of musical thing happening in the park.
This is a monument to the heroes of Cartagena.
What's that red building behind it? One of the clearest signs that you are well within the confines of an internationally-recognized tourist bubble:
It's the Hard Rock Cafe Cartagena. Continuing:
This is the landmark Torre del Reloj, the Clock Tower, in the near distance:
But first let's head in a different direction, to Plaza de San Pedro Claver:
San Pedro Claver was the first "New World" saint. He was known for ministering to the slaves who were brought to the Americas from Africa. Cartagena was a major destination port for the slave traders.
Now, about this statue of San Pedro Claver ministering to a slave. San Pedro Claver looks good. But the slave? It's as if he were sculpted by Botero. I have never seen a slave portrayed as so portly. He even has man-boobs. He should not be shirtless looking like that.
Let's head up the city walls and have a look around.
Off in the distance you can see Boca Grande (translation: "Big Mouth"), the high-rises on the beach part of town.
Not sure yet the purpose of the clipper ship, other than it's photogenic.
I believe those cannons are no longer functional, which would mean Cartagena is at risk of being invaded by pirate marauders. Perhaps I will find out tomorrow.
This is the famous Torre Del Reloj, or Clock Tower, up closer:
Cross the street from the Torre Del Reloj and you are not longer in the Old City, but in a neighborhood named Getsemani. This is a gate into Parque del Centenario in Getsemani:
And this is a different gate:
I will save exploring Getsemani -- or even exploring whether Getsemani is worth exploring -- for a later date. Across f/rom the park is the convention center
What's cool about this convention center is that it is guarded by Pegasuses.
Or is it Pegasi? I'm not sure of the plural of Pegasus.
I love Pegasi/Pegasuses. A horse with wings! How awesome. On the other hand, I never understood the appeal of the unicorn. So it's a horse with a horn growing out of its forehead. If a person had that, we'd call it a severe birth defect. But put wings on a person and the awesomeness would be overwhelming. Why is it different for horses? Pegasuses rule. (Unicorns drool).
Anyway, it was getting late.
Time to head back to the hotel.
The Hotel Casa del Arzobispado. Let's have a look inside.
And mi cuarto:
It has a loft, which means I was able to take an overhead shot.