It only took 15 months and 50,000km, but we made it to South America!
First impressions of Cartagena: hot and muggy. We spent a few nights near the harbor since Ben needed to get the Landy out of the container. The area was convenient for that but not much else. After we checked in we figured we should walk to the old town since it was only a couple km away. With 90% humidity amd temperatures reaching the low 30s, we were covered in sweat by the time we got to the city walls.
Weather aside, Cartagena is beautiful! The buildings are colorfully restored and you feel like you are walking through a scene from Gabriel García Márquez novel – if it weren’t for all the other tourists and street peddlers. Outside the old walled city is the neighborhood Getsemani, which was just as charming but a little less overwhelmed by tour groups. After we freed the Landy, we moved to a hotel in this part of town. The street art in this area is also more interesting to stroll past. We found a nice spot for coffee on a quiet and colorful street amd we were a short walk from cheap and delicious food in the Manga neighborhood.
San Basilio de Palenque
We spent about a week total in Cartagena. First to get the Landy out of the container and then Rachel’s sister Sarah came to visit. From the city we took a day trip with her to San Basilio de Palenque. The town was founded by escaped slaves and was the first free town in all the Americas. The history is incredible and we recommend reading more about it on Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Basilio_de_Palenque
Our tour guide told us a lot about the town, invited local musicians to play traditional music and got us to dance, and finally took a walk through town i the sweltering heat.
Rachel and Sarah took another day trip together to the mud volcano Totumo. This is a tiny active volcano full of mud that people jump into to splash around like pigs. Bathing in the mud is alleged to have healing powers. We can’t confirm this claim, but it was a strange and amusing experience.
Taganga and Tayrona NP
We then spent a few days further Northeast along the Caribbean coast. We spent 3 nights in taganga, formerly a tiny fishermans village and now gateway to Tayrona National Park, cheap diving and nice beaches. We spent a day swimming and splurging on food and drinks at Playa Grande. The nect day we went diving out in Tayrona.
From Taganga Sarah headed back to Cartagena to catch her flight home and we headed into the mountains in Minca in search of cooler weather!