22 January 2005
Cartagena de Indias, Colombia N 10.2472 W 075.3249
Unanswered questions upon leaving Cartagena
Who eats the ceviche carried around in small coolers by the street vendors and how long has it been there? Is there some kind of referral fee paid to the vendors by the emergency medical services of Cartagena?
There is plethora of coffee vendors that ply the streets selling coffee by the shot glass. Here is the national drink being meted out a few ounces at a time. Is it because in this small quantity the general populace can afford it or is it that too much caffeine makes you irritable or you might miss the noon siesta? How big are the cups at the breakfast table?
Have the guys that walk around with small buckets of raw oysters and limes ever heard of botulism or hepatitis? Do they ever have repeat customers or are they clever enough to only sell oysters to tourists that will be departing within the week.
Why is it that Christmas carols are in English when no other music is?
Is every donkey in Cartagena named Mercedes or is there some subtle joke here?
How does one translate, "okay okay"? We hear it in Spanish radio conversations all the time.
Did you ever think that the drug cartels worked well in Colombia because the telephone service is so bad that a wire tap is impossible?
How do they expect you to boost the local economy when the most you can draw from an ATM is $120.00? You can however stand there and make three withdraws in a row adding to the ATM service fees collected by the bank.
Why does milk come in bags, or is it that way in the US now?
Why does a restaurant sell a full course meal for $1.50 at lunch and a hamburger at night for $4.00?
If an old guy sails his boat into Cartagena alone, is it the responsibility of the dockmaster to supply the nubile young girl or is there another agency that provides this, "welcome to Cartagena" companion?
Why does ever project cost more than quoted? When your project is three quarters complete, you get the news, "sorry to finish this job we need more dinero." We believe this negotiating pattern is taught by Colombian Business Universities. Best of all they know when to stop talking and to give you that blank look, known to us cruisers as the "Columbian Stare". Language is not the barrier now, it is culture.
What does manana mean? After many experiences all we know is that it's "just not today". It does not necessarily mean tomorrow it's "just not today".
If someone tells you they will meet you Monday, why need you always ask "which Monday?".
Are there no watches in Colombia? Forget about requesting a time, just hang out on your boat all day and hope that someone shows. If not, well there's always the hope for the next Monday.
Why does the waiter let you order five items on the menu that are not available before he finally tells you that all they do have available is hamburgeresa? Is it because we are Norte Americanos and they just want to empty the freezer of hamburger and we are the logical choice having been weaned by MacDonalds?
During our stay we found no use of drugs by the locals or the cruisers. But if you remember Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters who took a yellow school bus from the west coast to the New York Worlds Fair, you will delight in the picture of this boat. The name Further is the same as Kesey's bus. Maybe just to refresh your memory, Kesey was a leading figure in the counterculture and wrote "One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest" which became a best selling book and an award winning movie. His life was filled with hallucinogenic experimentation and was chronicled in Tom Wolfe's book "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test". We never met the owner of the boat, probably still in the 60's somewhere.
When we entered the anchorage in Cartagena there were about six boats anchored outside the marina. Today there are 50. The word is getting around that Cartagena is a gem, an emerald actually. The sense of history is evident in almost every corner. The riches of South and Central America that passed thought this city left their mark on the infrastructure and in the culture. South Americans travel to Cartagena the way North Americans travel to Charleston. It is rich in history and hospitality. Cruise ships are returning to Cartagena after a long absence and marine insurance companies are responding to the demands of their cruising customers and are adding Cartagena back into their policies albeit with special provisions.
Our next log will be from a new location so be sure to look in and see where we are.
Adios Cartagena y nosotros amigos!
For more pictures of Cartagena, please click on the arrow to start a slideshow.
Zoe checking out the dolphins