January 21-23, 2008
When I left Santa Marta, I took a bus along the coast to Cartagena, a big city with the same sweltering climate. Many backpackers had raved to me about the city's old fortress, so I checked it out on my first day. As soon as I entered the confines of the large stone walls, I was brought back to Gabriel Garcia Marquez's vivid descriptions of the city in his novels. It did feel like stepping back in time since the only traffic on the streets were the horse taxis, so there was no modern big city noise. However, the fortress wasn't as big as I thought it would be; maybe twelve square blocks were contained within its walls. A few hours was all I needed to see it.
I also walked to the other side of town where the high-end tourists chose to stay because some book told them that the old city was too dangerous. It was packed with five-star hotels, but the beaches were tiny, crowded, and dirty, and there wasn't much else to do there. I didn't understand why anyone would pay big money to stay there when there were so many nicer places along the Caribbean coastline.
I had originally planned to stay in the Cartagena region longer, but my extended jaunt around Santa Marta, combined with the fact that the heat was beginning to cook my brain, told me that two days were enough. I left on an overnight bus for Medellin, another city everyone seems to be talking about in a positive light nowadays.
The photo album for this entry is here.