Land Ho!

Trip Start Aug 03, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Thursday, November 24, 2011

Arriving in Cartagena around midnight Captains Dave and Aragon were eager for us to alight their vessels as soon as possible. Using the Zodiac passengers and baggage were ferried to shore in a series of shuttle runs and discussions ensued on where we should (or, more's the point, could, stay at this late hour). The hot favourite was Media Luna a vast hostel in the Getsemani area of Cartagena, near the old town with beds for several hundred.

As would become obvious across all of Colombia the chosen vehicle for taxis is the Chevrolet Ganga (I find myself smirking at the irony of the omission of the letters S and T) or various Korean imports of similar design and these little fellas are on the small side. Factor in that certain taxi drivers insist on filling their boots with the kind of speakers you would see in the Ministry of Sound and... well you get the picture.

Edgar, CatalAna and I squeezed into a taxi with Aragon (he had been on the boat for a month solid and was desperate for solid ground under foot) and headed off to the hostel. As we pulled up, a delighted Rares and Brad encircled us - they had done the independent route down the coast of Panama and Darien and arrived several hours earlier in Cartagena! Edgar, CatalAna and I checked in to a 6 bed dorm and Edgar and I sought out Rares and Brad to share stories of the last few days and celebrate our arrival (perhaps that should be survival?)The joy of sleep that night, minus any rocking motion, cannot be understated - it was blissful!

The following day, I awoke early and enjoyed a breakfast of fruit, empanadas and coffee, all purchased from various street vendors for a little over 1 before heading off around the old town. Cartagena is quite beautiful and the old town is full of charm and interesting things to see.

Later that day a group of us headed to the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas - a huge fortress with great views over the town - somehow we managed to blag our way in for half price as students (not bad for a 34 year old!). After a good mooch around, including some big flag action we returned to the hostel to make our plans for a big night out!

Edgar, Rares and I had earlier seen a small locals bar which looked particularly dodgy and clearly worth further investigation. As we entered we were well received by the cheerful barman and the locals were soon engaging us in polite conversation - generally along the lines of "if there's anything you want - I can get it for you" - One particular fella caused us much amusement as it appeared that it had been snowing heavily in both of his nostrils. Despite the dubious nature of the clientele, the beer was cheaper (only 1500 pesos - 50p)  than the local supermarket and we decided to try and drag the rest of the boat crew back there.

We returned to the bar a little later in considerably greater numbers and enjoyed celebrating our arrival in Colombia! Later that night we headed to the old town (after demonstrating extremely good indecision making about where to go) where Edgar negotiated entry into a bar for 10,000 pesos each - but including beer! I decided to opt for the sophisticated option of mojitos and a fantastic evening was had by all culminating in some over ambitious dancing and hotdogs on the street at 3 (possibly 4) in the morning!

The following day I awoke and Edgar and I decided that we would get moving again - we opted to get the night bus to Medellin, departing at 2130 along with Matthias and Martin, the two Germans. Once again four of us climbed into a small taxi and headed off to the bus terminal - because of the rush hour traffic, the taxi driver took a number of short cuts through less well off suburbs - For a split second on that journey we all thought that we might be relieved of our worldly possessions - thankfully we were fine and at the bus station we changed our attire to cope with the impending chill of a long distance bus journey.

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