Monday, October 24, 2005

Cartagena de las Indias, Part II

Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas

So, one of the more interesting things I saw in Cartagena was the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. Cartagena was originally founded in 1533 by the Spanish and was at that time the principal port for the area. After various attacks by pirates and others looking for a piece of the Spanish wealth that sailed out from the city, construction was started of the Castillo in 1639. It became the most extensive fortification in South America. Check out the
Global Heritage Fund's website for more information on the Castillo (click on Colombia, then More).

The Castillo brought back memories of Fort Sumnter in Charleston (even though it was built much more recently) and of the fort in St. Augustine, Florida, which I think I remember going to at some point. We didn’t go through the structure with a guide, one because I hate guides and two because the groups were too big and I have a hard time understanding Spanish when there’s twenty people all talking at the same time. So I suppose I didn’t learn much of the history, but oh well. Next time, or in the guide book that I’m realizing that I really need to buy. The fascinating part of the Castillo was that I didn’t see any rooms inside. There were lots and lots of tunnels with small person-deep compartments off of them, supposedly for the Spaniards to hide in if someone attacked (if I’m wrong here, somebody please tell me!). It would be extremely easy to get lost inside…the tunnels just keep going down and they all look the same. I kept expecting to get to a room or chamber of some sort, but there was nothing. The fort itself is gigantic; I can’t imagine the manpower needed to build something of that size and complexity inside. But I won’t get into that now… More pics to come, but blogger's acting up right now and I have no patience to sit here and wait for it to upload!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Cartagena de las Indias, Part I

So on for this past weekend's puente, I went to Cartagena. As you can see from the pictures, it's a nice place, but I think I had rather high expectations based on the praises that people give it and what I've seen of colonial Mexico. Other than the high costs, the poverty that surrounds the beautiful parts of the city, and the overly persistent street vendors, I think that it would certainly be a more friendly and interesting place to live as compared to Barranquilla. There was not so much honking of the horns or out-of-control driving and it was possible to walk places without the fear of being run over even at night! The beaches right around the city were about the same as the main ones in Santa Marta, not great, but not the nastiness of Puerto Colombia. The Islas de Rosario are supposedly much more beautiful, but I didn't end up making it there. I especially enjoyed the snow cone vendors, like the one above, and even though I couldn't have one in fear of being sick another two weeks, I decided I want to buy one of the machines. All in all, though, I discovered that I need to buy a Colombia travel guide if only to have the name of decent cheap hotels. Finding a place to stay was horrible! More to come...

The Cathedral

Torre del reloj, where we entered the walled part of the city

Statue of Pedro de Heredia, founder of Cartagena

Peagusus Bridge (did I spell that right?) in Cartagena de las Indias

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Futbol Madness

I went to see Seleccion Colombia play Chile this past Saturday at the estadio metropolitano. Unlike the Junior game I went to where the stadium wasn't even half full, there were tons of fans at this game, all dressed in their yellow Colombian jerseys. Too bad Colombia didn't play well (a trend, I'm told), so they only tied 1-1. That means that today, Wednesday, almost all of my students are skipping class to watch the Colombia vs. Paraguay game, which will determine if they go to the Copa Mundial next summer. Colombia has to win or tied, I think, and Chile has to loose, for them to make it. People go crazy over soccer games here. It took us forever to get out of the stadium area after Saturday's game was over.

Today is also Dia de la Raza, an attempt at making Columbus Day something that we should celebrate. Didn't fool me. And tomorrow is the Juanes concert, so most of my students will be gone again for my evening classes. And I don't get to go...

Things are looking up though. I've been told that I can find pumpkins (canned or otherwise edible, hopefully) to make pie with, as well as canned cranberries. I know Thanksgiving is still a little ways away, but Canadian Thanksgiving was last week!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Fruit of the Day: GUAYABA, the kind I don't like, but since they all look the same from the outside, I bought the wrong one.

Fruit of the day: LULO

Sunset on the beach near Prado Mar, maybe a week or two ago.

Boca de Ceniza/Las Flores

Last weekend I went to Las Flores to catch the train to Boca de Ceniza. This is where the Magdalena River and the Atlantic Ocean meet (on this map, the northernmost piece of land). The ecotrain, as it's called, runs out along the river, with the final part built on a man-made rock divider. Neither the ocean nor the river is very nice to look at there, but it was interesting to see the water where they come together. Someone also told me that there are supposedly pink river dolphins swimming around there somewhere, but I didn't see anything. This last picture is from the train, looking back at
Barranquilla and the bay,
ocean side.