Sunday, October 9, 2011

Things to see and do in Cartagena, Columbia

Play in the warm waters of the Carribean Sea on Playa Blanca (White Beach), Baru Island!  We had quite an adventure getting to the island of Baru but as we suspected, once we were there it was wonderful. 

Wander the streets inside the walled old city of Cartagena (Centro and San Diego areas) and admire the colourful buildings, beautiful flowers and interesting architecture.

Join a bus tour of the city on a tacky tourist bus where you are the only English speaking person.  Although the tour company ensured me that there was a bilingual tour guide, the amount of information given in English was somewhat limited.  On one stop at a church on a hill above the city (La Popa) the tour guide gave a very long explanation about the church and, I'm assuming it's history and significance (took about 5 minutes while we sat in the pews).  After finishing his detailed explanation, the guide looked at me and said, "This is a gold plated altar and it is dedicated to Saint _____" and off he moved to the next point of interest.  Thankfully my fellow tour participants were very kind and between my very limited Spanish and their knowledge of English, helped fill me in on some of the missing information.
los zapatos viejos (old pair of shoes) with Barajas Castillo, a massive fortress having a complex tunnel system, in the background.  Just 2 of the sites I saw on the tour.

 Float in the warm mud of El Totumo Mud Volcano.  This was an experience that I had read about in several blogs and one that I had really wanted to try myself.  As many people have reported before me, it is a strangely bizarre yet wonderful feeling.  The strangeness begins when you enter the mud and find that you have a hard time keeping upright.  The mud is so thick that you can have your legs pointing straight down and you will remain buoyant, with your shoulders above the water.  The next strange feeling to overcome is deciding whether to give into or avoid the roaming hands of the local men who are quite insistent about giving you a rub down as you float in the mud.  We all chose to avoid, though several people enjoyed their rub down and found it quite relaxing.  (you pay $$ for this service - they say 3000 Columbian pesos but they always try and talk you into paying more).
Try as we might to dunk Paul under the mud, Chloe and I could not do it.  The kindly Australian mate (behind Chloe in the photo) offered to help Paul by pushing down on his shoulders with all of his weight.  Following the dunking, we all laughed hysterically as Paul tried to figure out how to open his mouth and eyes.

Good-bye Cartagena!


  1. the mud thing looks cool, but going under...yuk, I can taste the mud just looking at the photo. We're all exercising today after a big turkey dinner. Happy Thanksgiving.
    The caribbean water looks so wonderful, glad to see you getting some sunshine and heat!

  2. Hey Deb! I couldn't agree more about going under. Quite a few people did so I guess it wasn't so bad but makes me shudder just thinking about it. Sunshine and heat is over for now,... we're in Medellin and we appear to be here in the rainy season. Still having a good time despite the occasional shower (not the constant rain of good ol' Vancouver). Thanks for the comment!

  3. Did all of you get dunked under the mud?

  4. All 3 of you should have been dunked under the mud at the same time for a family dunk affair.