Friday 11th March
Discovery docked early at Cartagena – in the Port area, which made a pleasant change from tendering. We had enjoyed the magnificent sail in – past the old fort of San Felipe and then the total contrast of the many sky-rise buildings reminiscent of many another wealthy modern city.
We had decided that a pre-arranged tour was a sensible idea in Colombia and ours was to take us several kilometres around the city. First of all we visited the 17th century La Popa Monastery which occupies a prime position overlooking the city. This afforded us a magnificent view and the opportunity to take many photographs before we went into the convent itself and its associated chapel. Jill had her photograph taken with a sloth for which its opportunist minder was keen to extract twice the usual one dollar fee!
From La Popa, we travelled in our minibus to the fortress of San Felipe de Barajas which we had sailed past earlier in the day. This dates from 1657 and we went into some of its labyrinth of tunnels as well as exploring the ramparts.
We re-boarded our minibus and were taken to the Old Town area of Cartagena where we had a walking tour after first doing some shopping in duty free arcades which had formerly been dungeons within the walled city ramparts. They had been built to store provisions for the troops. Jill bought a couple of tops inscribed “Colombia” as well as three necklaces for $9.00.
The buildings in the Old Town were somewhat reminiscent of Cuba but in a much better state of repair. Indeed they are considered to be some of the most impressive and best preserved in South America. Particularly noticeable were the balconies, often covered with plants and flowers.
In one area we entered a San Pedro Claver Cloister and monastery. San Pedro was the protector of slaves (the Slaves’ Slave). We took photos of a statue depicting him with one of the slaves. Nearby was interesting street furniture depicting a variety of trades which made the whole scene very picturesque. We concluded our tour by having a drink in a courtyard café before returning to the ship.
The following day we enjoyed our last sea day of this cruise - from now onwards it is a different port almost every morning!