Friday, February 19, 2010


We've been in Cartagena for almost two months and have explored much of the old city, seen the old forts, the convent on the highest mountain, have had many happy hours and other social events with cruisers, made new friends, seen a few movies, and have done lots of boat projects!  Typically we walk at least a few miles every day, either into the old city or over to the big mall where a few important stores are located: home center and carrefour, a supermarket with housewares -- sort of like a Walmart.  Traffic is horrendous here; there must be thousands of taxis running around town.  Luckily most of them are powered with natural gas because without that, the city would be smothered in smog.  On the other hand, we also see men and children driving wooden carts powered by donkeys.

Private autos, vans, bicycles and motorcycles round out the street vehicles.  However, when walking on the malecon (path along the waterfront), we see people riding on segways plus lots of children driving battery-driven vehicles, 5 and 6 year olds learning the techniques of driving!

The old city is a shopper's delight, everything from food, furniture, flowers, etc. to designer clothing.  Now, I'm not talking about designs by famous designers from Paris.  Cartagena has an ample supply of wonderful designers.  Everywhere we go we see boutiques filled with unique designs, blouses, dresses, men's shirts, children's clothing -- everything you could imagine -- and all at very reasonable prices.  We had a dressmaker make a dress for Marlene and a matching shirt for Roy.  The results were so well appreciated that we commissioned her to make one more dress and two more shirts.

Eating in or out, we have lots of choices of high quality foods.  We buy cheese from an Italian cheese maker who moved to Cartagena and makes wonderful Gorgonzola, Parmesan, Semicotto, and others.  We visit his shop every two weeks or so -- yum.  Salads are a big part of our diet here, a change from other locales we've visited.  Lettuce is plentiful and very delicious, lots of cucumbers and tomatoes.  We also have good access to olive oil, balsamic vinegar and, of course, garlic.  We're learning how to purchase meats that are not tough, and there's lots of chicken everywhere we go, either to the market or to a restaurant.

We have lots of cruising buddies right here in Cartagena and many more who have already taken off for the San Blas Islands, where we'll catch up with them when we leave here in a week to ten days.  A few more projects to complete before leaving, plus one more trip to Fort Lauderdale for Marlene to have her eye treatment.