Columbia offers many beautiful destinations, but bring Sugar Shack will only see Santa Marta. We originally thought about sailing her down to Cartagena, but after arriving in Santa Marta and doing a little research, we felt it’d be best to leave her in Santa Marta and take the bus into Cartagena.
Our twelve year wedding anniversary is November 11 which also happens to be Cartagena’s Independence Day celebration. Seems like a perfect time to go on a new adventure, don’t you think? Jon, Mia, and Teo on “Itchy Foot” decided to come on this journey with us.
Pedro de Heredia, a Spanish Commander, founded Cartagena de Indias in 1533. Its rapid growth began after the establishment of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in 1717. The Silver Age of the city is the period between 1750 and 1808. Cartagena became the richest city of the colony at that time.
On November 11, 1811, Cartagena declared its independence from Spain amidst the Peninsular War, which became Latin American Wars of Independence. Cartagena’s Independence is an important milestone even though the city was almost destroyed in 1815 and Columbia didn’t gain full independence for several more years.
Twenty people were took the Marsol to Cartagena which took a little over 4 hours. It was a nice bus with reclining seats and AC and it made one stop for food and bathroom breaks.
We checked in to our respective hotels and set a meet up place and time. Matt and I stayed at Casa Ebano 967 for a whopping $35 per night. Matt is almost touching both walls under the AC unit and the bathroom wall was not much bigger. It wasn’t big, but it was clean and safe.
We walked to the Walled Colonial City or “ciudad amurallada” which consists of the historical districts of El Centro and San Diego. It is a real gem of colonial architecture, packed with churches, monasteries, plazas, palaces, and mansions with their overhanging balconies and shady patios.
The old town is surrounded by Las Murallas, the thick walls built to protect it against enemies. Construction began towards the end of the 16th century, after the attack by Francis Drake; until that time Cartagena was almost completely unprotected. The project took two centuries to complete due to repeated damage from both storms and pirate attacks. Only in 1796 was it finally finished, just 25 years before the Spaniards were eventually expelled.
The streets are lined with colorful store fronts, offices, apartments, cafes, hotels, hostels, and more. Several have over scale wooden doors with ornate knockers or smaller doors built into them. Some are topped with beautiful flowers crawling below their roofs, and yet others sit vacant and alone.
As we made our way to the parade route the crowds great louder. We saddled up to the crowded barrier and waited for the parade to start. Evidently, Columbians like to celebrate with foam. They sell foam canisters for 5,000 pesos and everyone is fair game. It did not take long before we were covered in a soap type foam that dissolved into a bit of a sticky mess. Nothing mattered, everyone was fair game and everyone got hit or sprayed, many times.
The parade started and captured our attention. It was a beautiful display of costumes, music, beauty contestants, culture, and history. Many men dress up in female costumes which is part of their heritage. There were also many men dressed as woman celebrating LGBT we assume since they were out in full force too.
Interesting Colombian Facts:
- Colombian pesos are confusing and should therefor drop three zeros.
- Colombians are hard workers and have an entrepreneurial spirit.
- Foam does not taste very good.
- Parade costumes are the most elaborate and elegant ones I’ve seen.
- The heels they wear (both men and women) are ridiculously high!
- The streets of Columbia are very clean with little litter.