My stay in Medellin was brief. The next morning we flew to Cartagena. Unlike the last internal flight, this one was on time, and relatively quick. The most interesting thing was that the airport bookstore had a number of books in English. I almost bought one by Charles Bukowski, but it was a slender volume and besides Barfly, I really haven’t even heard of anything by the author.
The trip in from the airport to the old city of Cartagena was quite spectacular. We drove along the very windswept coast and passed the giant fortification before entering the walled city. Now, G Adventures hotels are not often the most luxurious, but their locations are quite central.
We did a walking tour of the old city and were accosted by vendors every ten feet. It wasn’t aggressive, but relentless. I don’t buy a lot of souvenirs normally, but this made me want them even less. I guess I just don’t want to be sold to.
The old city was quite beautiful. I loved the architecture and statues. Other tourists opted to take in the city by horse drawn carriage. I am not sure that was the best option, but I get how romantic that could be.
Most of the tours I take, always have some cause they support. In this case, they had a restaurant that helps teens at risk, or rehabilitated teens. They give them a job, skills, and teach them English. We went there for lunch and they had an interesting menu. I had banana bread, hoping it would help settle my stomach.
My illness persisted and I was getting nervous about the last part of the trip–a five day walk in the jungle. I contacted the tour company about changing my flight and coming home early. I had given them some options, but they were less than helpful. They didn’t want options, they wanted an exact day. Since I was going to change cities every day, I had hoped that this would make it easier for them.
I talked to my Chief Experience Officer, and he called his contacts in Quito. Basically, I started the ball rolling, but didn’t know how it was going to work out. I went to a doctor and got some medicine. She told me that she felt I could do the trip and that there was no medical reason to back out. I suppose if she had given me a certificate or note, I could have gotten a refund. Alas that was not to be.
So, after getting back, I decided to tour the fortification myself. Everyone had gone off while I was at the doctor. It was just as well. Things within the group seemed strained and I had had enough. The fort was impressive just by its sheer size. I wandered around it for a while and took some awesome pictures.
As this was the last night for most people on the tour–only five of us were scheduled to meet another group and start the jungle trek, the CEO organized a “posh” dinner experience. Since I wasn’t feeling up to a dinner like that, didn’t want to spend the amount of money, was craving pizza, and just wanted time away from the group, I used Google Maps to find something I could walk to.
I found a cool pizza place with a fantastic vibe. It was a small place, set off a courtyard. The ceiling was high and the dark stone walls had so many stories to tell. While walking the streets, I noticed that the locals were all out on the streets, regardless of the tourist noise happening all around them. They were playing dominoes, or just sitting on their porches enjoying the evening. It was loud, but all of that faded to the background.
In the back of my mind, I was wondering if this was going to be my last night in Colombia. I packed like it was. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. Three options were on the table. I was either going to leave for Canada from Cartagena, go to Santa Marta and take a flight from there to Bogota and go home (my original route, but earlier) or go to Santa Marta and do the trek. I really didn’t know which one it would be, but I liked the first two options the most.