Looking for pirates in Cartagena

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
Trip End Sep 30, 2010

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Where I stayed
Casa Valda

Flag of Colombia  , Bolívar,
Friday, September 18, 2009

One day into our stay in sunny, warm, humid Cartagena we cave, and find a hostel with aircon.
Our first evening is a Friday, so we join a group from our hostel and head to a salsa bar and try to watch the dancing while a very pushy salesman devotes 20 minutes to trying to sell Bevan some maracas that he really doesn't want. At 1am we stop off at a disco with frantic strobe lights where they are already cleaning vomit off the floor. We give up and call it a night and learn the next day that 2 of the guys in our group that night were later robbed.
Saturday night we join a rumba chiva (think big, open party bus complete with live percussion and accordion band) tour. We are the only non South Americans on a bus full of Colombians, Venezuelans, Chileans and Argentinians. ´´drinks included´´ translates to a never ending supply of bottles of rum, coke and buckets of ice for each row of the bus. Our MC speaks Spanish only, so mostly we have no clue what is going on, but so long as you cheer a lot, drink a lot, and stand on the seats of the moving bus and shake your booty when instructed then you fit right in.

Cartagena has a beautiful old town surrounded by huge walls that took 2 centuries to complete (small pirate problem). There is also a fort on the hill with an amazing system of underground tunnels that are open to the public.
An hour out of town is the volcan del totumo, a mud volcano. So we spend Bevans birthday wallowing in mud (and a lot more time trying to wash it off).
There is also a nearby group of islands, the Islas del Rosario where the snorkeling is supposedly great, but actually a bit disappointing (the people writing our guide book really need to try snorkeling in Australia if they think dead coral is interesting). Throwing tour boat anchors into coral, and running jet skis up and down probably isn't helping.

Cartagena has been a little disappointing in its over zealous fleecing of tourists, but overall we are sad to be leaving Colombia for our next stop Peru.
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