12th March 2015
We've had a great couple of days in Cartagena, one of the most colourful and photogenic cities in the world. The group arrived on Sunday morning and some spent the afternoon exploring the Getsemani area of the city with its murals and cool bars. Later we dined in Patagonia, an Argentine restaurant which serves up huge slabs of meat; fortunately half portions had been ordered all round.
On Monday Jose, our guide, led us on a tremendously informative tour of the city walking around the Old Town in the morning and visiting La Popa after lunch, a 17th century convent set on a hill with a far reaching view of the city and the imposing San Felipe de Barajas castle. Amongst the anecdotes and history I have to admit the one fact that will probably stick as long as any in my mind concerns former Formula 1 and Indy Racing star Juan Pablo Montoya. He got married in Cartagena and, prior to the wedding service, he arranged and paid for the chosen church to have air conditioning so he wouldn’t overheat during the ceremony.
We stayed at Casa de Lucy, a wonderful hotel right in the middle of the Old Town. It was simple and superb. The bacon and eggs and its tropical fruit salad (which consisted of 11 different fruits!) were to die for and Lucy, a larger than life character, was a wonderful host.
Dragging ourselves away from the breakfast tables we had a full day yesterday. Four hours south west of Cartagena we called in to Estacion Amaya, near San Antero, were they have a large breeding programme for endangered crocodiles and turtles. Ex-hunters are now employed as rangers and help reintroduce the animals into the mangrove swamps. The WF group appeared to enjoy holding the caiman and all survived with limbs and fingers intact to take in a tour of the mangroves and a fish lunch with an idyllic view over the Bay of Cispata.
More fun was to be had in the afternoon when we stopped off at the Volcan de Lodo, a small ‘volcano’ of clay with rejuvenating properties. It was empty when we arrived and everyone was extremely reluctant to clamber down into it. But once the smiling attendant had shown us how it was done there was a rush to the changing rooms and mud fights ensued.
We are now in Lorica, heading south to Necocli and tomorrow we hope to catch the public launch to the unspoilt sands of Capurgana, close to the Panamanian border.