From Salento, we drove first to Finlandia where we enjoyed an excellent local meal at Helena. Finlandia is similar to Salento except that this brightly colored colonial town sits atop a mountain. We spent the majority of the afternoon around the plaza Major. It is not as big as Salento's but is filled with hibiscus.....deep red, tangerine, yellow and pink. Other plants also are present as well as trees.
In mid afternoon thunder, lightening and their sidekick torrential rain rolled in. We dashed into a coffeehouse where Gord tried cafe campesino...black coffee with lots of panello...sugarcane. we sat an hour while it rained.
After we looked in little shops, tried to see the 'magnificent' views...hidden by cloud, and at 5p opted to drive on to Pereira and El Aeropeurto. Here we had a snack, checked in, went thro' security and flew to Cartagena.
Cartagena is a large international city. Boca Grande is lined with large hotels. Fortuneately our hotel, Casa Lucy/Helga is within the city walls. It is an old colonial building with an indoor courtyard and rooms off it. We overlook the garden. It is filled with beautiful flowering vines climbing on walls, orchids, air plants, trees and bushes. Beautiful and relaxing. Breakfast is served along the edge.
Breakfast starts with a dinner plate size serving of different tropical fruits and juice followed by a bread basket filled with different kinds of breads, arepas and loafs, mermalada mura and an orange and molasses tasting mixture. Next eggs of our choice arrived and coffee followed. Our choice of cereals was also available. Stuffed we left on tour.
Our guide, Walter, walked us through the old town as he explained some of the city's history. We stopped in Plaza Simon Boliver to learn he was born and raised here. We were taken through the 2nd built Church....the name escapes me....now a history museum.
After we walked to the port area where slaves were brought in and sold. Next Padre Pedro de Clavers statue and Church was viewed. It is part museum and part church. The church is relatively plain compared to European churches. It has a huge courtyard with mangos and avocados growing. We watched red squirrels play, saw green parrots and explored Pedro de Clavers domain. We saw his sparse quarters, his original church, and learned of his benevolence towards the African and indiginous slaves.
From here it was up on the wall....30 or so feet wide and many times reinforced. We talked of sunsets, viewing spots and cervazas. Once down we strolled to Santo Domingo. It is a neat little church with a plaza in front and a garden filled atrium in the center. As a service was in session we spent little time there.
As our hotel was a short distance away, this was the end of our tour.
We spent a quiet afternoon out of the heat....yes it is hot!
The evening found us travelling on foot across town...a few blocks only...to La Mullato for camarones de Mullato. This restaurant is in one of the many hosteles. And very busy. We were tenth in line. They had filled 4 large rooms before we left. It had come highly recommended....and the seafood was delicious.
After we walked back to Santo Domingo Plaza and people watched with a cervaza in hand. And life was fun. Many touts with bracelets and rings, hat salesmen, kerchief salesladies, water salesmen bustled by. A hot dog vender set up shop...and was busy. Cars came and went as did horse drawn carriages filled with clients, little children with parents talking, people meeting and greeting each other. Even spiderman and his evil cohort made an appearance...tossing a youngster into the air giving him a thrill. We noted a lot of Colombian tourists as well as those from other countries. By 9 p shops and restaurants were closing. The square was becoming empty so we, too, walked the short distance to Casa Lucy's.
Here we talked to John from Australia. He is a 70 year old surfer...who owns a fiberglass factory just north of Sidney. His wife has died 4 years ago. We talked for well over an hour. He says that when he travels, he meets people and is less lonely. When he goes home he is going to sell his house and factory and travel in his sprinter van.
Today we were up late, breakfasted with John and arrived at the Emerald Museo at 11a. The museo was nicely air conditioned. It is very small but interesting. An emerald is a type of beryl...with chromium added usually to iron oxide. We learned that they stay put...where they are formed. Yes we saw samples of indiginous-set gems as well as the treasure discovered on the Antiochus by Jack Fisher...a sunken Spanish galleon from the 17th century. A gift shop followed of course with its beckoning jewellery....and yes we looked but didn't touch.
The temporary quarters for the Gold Museum was right across the street. It consisted of a few small rooms with lots of history and only a few gold trinkets, bracelets and necklaces that the Indiginous used. Maybe we should have seen it first.
We wandered next to the harbor and the Naval Museum. Its descriptions are mostly in Spanish with exception of the battle fought between Don Blas and the English Captain Edward Vernon circa 1741. The British far out-numbered the Spanish 20,000 men to 195....and Don Blas won. Tropical diseases disabled the British giving the Spanish an advantage. We were able to translate some of the Spanish and spent over 2 hours in the small but interesting museum. We had a snack....pollo empanada...here. upstairs dealt with the navy nowadays. It displayed guns, had a mock-up of a warship, showed uniforms etc. Downstairs had dealt with the time long ago until now. The museum is well arganized with lots of ship models as well as maps and dioramas.
After we walked back toward our street. Gord spotted a barbershop and we spent the next 1/2 to 1 hour there as a very particular barber clipped and straightrazored his hair and beard. He has little of either left....much cooler....and 30,000 pesos. So much for the 5,000 quoted.
Now we sit overlooking the garden...Gord with a cerveza in hand. Soon we will go to dinner and come back to pack. Tomorrow we will spend the day travelling to Quito, Ecuador.