Monday, June 22, 2009

Cartagena Pt 1

The city of Cartagena des Indias

Greetings from Cartagena, Columbia. Jo and I rejoined Visions of Johanna this past Wednesday, safely berthed at Club de Pesca on the island of Manga.

Literally ensconced within an early 17th century fortress, the marina is gated and exceedingly secure. While the Isle of Manga is residential and not unsafe, security at the marina is job one and there are always guards at the gate, as well as several others scattered around. They often position themselves at the ends of each “T” dock, and as we are berthed near a “T” head, we often feel that we have a “boat guard” standing by of our very own. The marina is full and we are shoehorned into a tight stern-to slip.

It was a bit exciting backing in to said slip with at least 12” between us and the pilings to port and starboard, but fortunately, both we and the pilings escaped unscathed. Fortunately, we have a full but shapely stern which just nestles into the diminutive fingers.

While I was gone, various boat jobs were done either by Gram or under his direction. Aside from the major acquisition and installation of the air conditioning unit, a forward bow awning is being sewn, some varnish work was done, and our baby was washed and awl-cared.

The Columbian people, certainly those who work about the marina, are industrious and hard working. Labor is inexpensive, and our friend Javier, and his twin brother Reynaldo, will spend a seven hour day working on your boat for $50,000 Pesos, or about $25.00 dollars.

More on the people of Cartagena later, but suffice it to say that I have found them to be uniformly friendly, interested, and patient with us and in our attempts to communicate.

Hopefully we will soon get back into a regular blogging mode, but since our return on Wednesday, we have been having a great time busy as both tourists and with typical vessel maintenance. The engine room and sole has been cleaned and the boat is being squared away. Even simple chores such as changing money and going to the outdoor market becomes an adventure.

Saturday I managed to squeeze a swim and a run in between early an morning cockpit teak clean and brighten, a wonderful and informational mid-day city tour, and finally…drum role please…a wrestle with a toilet as I changed seals and valves on the vacu-flush head. It worked again the second time I put it back together.

The long awaited Saturday tour made the day worthwhile and was much anticipated, as our first tour attempt with (our fantastic) delivery crew failed. Thus, I dedicate this portion to Jacob, Chuck, and Peter. I have become quite fascinated by the history of Cartagena, a history colored by wars, walls, and defensive measures necessitated by geography and it’s strategic location. Now a city of 1.2 million, the area was inhabited by indigenous Carib Indian tribes until European colonization by the Spaniards in the early 1500’s. A 200 year litany of siege and attacks, ensued, necessitating the creation of a walled fortress around the downtown (centro) and multiple, multiple strategically located forts and armaments.

The picture is from the Museo Naval del Caribe Cartagena de Indias. More details about this and our tour of the fort to follow soon but it is now time to get back to chores and tourism.

Also, please see our picasa web albums for more photos.


Anonymous said...

glad you finally got a proper tour of the city; was it in an air-conditoned van?


Mario said...

Called your home yesterday (6/28) to discuss my upcoming unemployment. Zak told me your story and plans - FANTASTIC! Am gobbling up your blog.
55 - 60 degrees and raining this long sailing weekend. Yes you are missing a few things here in Maine - but for the past 2 weeks it hasn't been the weather.
Mario (