Wednesday, 31 December 2008


I spent the night in the dorm at Calypso´s place and the next day I was finally ready to leave Santa Marta/Taganga. I was unsure as to whether I would head to Barranquilla or Cartagena. It was a friday night so I said I´d plump for the latter. I arrived quite late and headed straight for Casa Vienna, which had been (badly) recommended to me.

Tried to check in but it was full. That wasn´t the only surprise awaiting me. Who was in the reception area only the fckin lads from the trek - Stavros, Tommy, the Pup and Rob. Bingo. Wonderful surprise and perfect timing. Friday night and I had a great crew to hit it up with. Apparently the boats to Panama only go every few days and the lads had just missed one but were leaving the next morning. They were joined by Flo Jo - the crazy frenchman and a few more of their aussie friends.

Had a great laugh with the lads again albeit in spite of, rather than because of, Cartagena. As a town its one of the most beautiful I´ve cast my eye upon but its also quite frustrating as it just feels like ´it just ain´t got no soul´.

For Colombians its the pinacle (well, thats after their bemusing obsession with Miami). The well-off flock there in their droves. So its full of Colombian tourists, foreigners and people working in the tourist industry ie. street vendors, brassers, bumbs etc. Therefore, I file it, once again, under the list of ´beautiful shit places´.

Maybe I´m being a bit overcritical. It is what it is. Its setting is fantastic. An old walled fortress city - they call it the Pearl of the Carribean. It has beautiful old battlements and fantastically colourful and ornate old buildings. These things along with a large Afro-Latino population (due to it being a hub during the slave trade) lend it great similarities with Salvador in Brazil. But again the same irritants and hassles of Salvador. I believe it was the setting for the recent adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez´s Love in a Time of Cholera (didn´t see it) and they expect the tourist trade to explode there.

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