There is no U in Colombia
Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
84Trip End Jul 06, 2011
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I arrive in Cartagena around 9pm but the bus station is a twenty minute drive from the city so I hop into a taxi and find my hostel. Again, I haven't booked, but they have only a solo room left. It's perfect, I need sleep (after 26 hours on the road), to not talk to anyone and find some food. It was late, so I settled on a soda and had a good long sleep.
Miles walked 0.55
Temp 30C 86F
Day 79 March 24 - I awake and head straight for a nearby breakfast bar. I have not eaten properly in days and find an omlette with juice and coffee, well not all mixed!
Back to the hostel, hand in my laundry, pack my bag as I was going to be staying in a dorm for the 2nd night and off I headed into the wide world of Colombia and Cartagena. Whatever your preconceptions about Colombia, throw them out the window, this country and this city are thoroughly enjoyable and beautiful. I started by walking to the main gate to the city and wandered my way around the maze of little streets, tiny plazas before finding the wall itself.
I climb the steep path to the wall top and walk as far as I can go. The view is not the best, but I recognise the view from the Michael Palin book I read at the beginning of my adventure. It's great to see old cannons, old little defence forts and gaps in the wall to protect the city. It is said it took 200 years to build the wall, due to conflicts and natural disasters. The day is also very hot, I've been out of the habit of applying sun tan lotion, mainly due to long bus journeys!!
I find a place on the wall to sit and contemplate where I am again. I'm proud to say that of all the 13 countries in South America, I have visited each and every one of them. I was telling the Swedish nurses that one of my favourite aspects of travelling is closing my eyes and picturing where I've been. I sit there and visualise the entire journey so far. I've come so far in a short space of time but have had an amazing experience! I leave my thinking spot and head back into the city for some more exploration.
It's not long before I find a plaza with some shade and order myself some natural limonade and look at the rest of the schedule for Colombia. Nearby is a very big butt!
Come the evening time, I visit a small restaurant near the hostel and have some chicken in cheese sauce thing and a beer. It wasn't the best but it was cheap. The light was fading and the city walls only five minutes away, I set off to see the sun set behind the wall. The views are great, the sun is a light red and again, always special seeing the sun set in different locations. I was pretty tired so headed back to the hostel again to just chill.
On entering the hostel, I say hello to a hard faced looking big cat. She gets a little stroke then I sit on the sofa in my three bedroom dorm. I sit for an hour reading up on sports news on the web and in pops the cat, sits next to me and after a while rolls over displaying her belly for some rubbing. maybe I was the only one to say hello to her, anyway, it was nice company...well until...in walks a beautiful German brunette! She says hi instantly and tells me her name........I don't retain it, I ask where she is from and she asks me to guess, seeing as I heard her outside speaking Spanish I guess Spain, but no it was Germany. After a quick chat she invites me out for a walk/drink with a couple of other people. Needless to say, the cat was unimpressed by the attention I was getting and walked off.
There were 4 of us, Gerald from Austria, Paul from New Zealand, German girl and Ginger Gringo. We head into the city as German girl has just arrived, her and Gerald for some reason give us a history lesson on one of the statues, I later find out that Bente (German girl) is reading 'the history of Colombia'!!! We wander to the wall, walk through the dimly lit streets before heading to a bar and ordering some local beer.
Miles walked 4.3
Temp 30C 86F
Day 80 March 25 - Paul was up early and somehow found a website to stream the cricket world cup game on. Bente and I get up around the same time, and once she has had a shower, she can talk. We head out for breakfast. Gerald has left for Austria and Paul is watching the cricket. Bente and I must have had breakfast for almost two hours. Endless conversation, life stories, life thoughts, oh and of course some food!! Bente wants to explore the city in daylight so we head out into the main city and I just follow her wandering, seeing as I had already seen most of the city. She is fluent in Spanish and gets surprised looks from locals when she asks for directions or asks where to find something she is looking for. I ask for a favour though, I wanted a picture of Gringo in the wall. She duly obliged and I took one for her near a little fort.
The day was so hot that after walking around for over an hour, we were both melting. We found a coffee shop and while we were ordering our iced drinks, Paul was upstairs, he shouted my name twice and even threw his receipt that landed on Bente's head but neither of us notice. Only a few minutes later he sits with us and I find out NZ beat SA! I am surprised! Paul has been learning Spanish from reading childrens books so while Bente entertains herself with a book, Paul and I discuss the cricket then the rugby world cup followed by what he's doing with his life. Bente joins in with this as well, I'm just glad no-one asks me that question!! He's trained in law, as is his girlfriend and he's thinking of moving to London or New York. I'm onboard with NY, Bente is onboard with London. He's planned a skype session with the Mrs so soon disappears. Bente and I are so hot still that we stay in the air conditioned cafe and enjoy another coffee. So, Bente, 22 years old, is still studying and took a semester off to live and travel in Colombia, much to the horror of her family! She is infact flying back to Germany on March 30th, so her time in South America was coming to an end. A very down to earth, very mature young lady, and she is not on facebook. One of the few who just does not want to be a part of the global marketing campaign. She is stunning to look at and extremely fun to talk to. We agree to be email buddies, haha not facebook friends. She receives a phone call from home so needs to find an Internet cafe to skype. My time is running out as I'm heading to San Gil today, so we say goodbye and I'm off to an ATM to pay my hostel bill and then back at the hostel. I have my laundry back! I hug my bag and thank the ladies who took care of it. I caught up on some emails, packed my bag, chatted to Paul briefly and he told me of an Indian restaurant just over the road that did a delicious but non spicy vindaloo. I had just enough time to head over and have my early dinner.
It was delicious, though Andy, I think you would have been disappointed with the lack of spice, I mean I didn't even get the hiccups! A taxi ride later and I'm at the bus station for the 16/18 hour journey to San Gil. I will not miss these long bus journeys. I'm fine on the journey, sleep, listen to my ipod etc, but it's the nervousness of not sleeping too much in case you miss your stop, plus trying to work out which stop is actually yours! I leave Cartagena and head south for the next few days, before I turn around and restart my northern journey to Bean land!!
Miles walked 1.9
Temp 30C 86F