Andres slept through the night again – we’ve been waking up before he does. That’s partly because he’s going to bed late, it’s a bit difficult to get him to bed early and then get ourselves fed at a reasonable time.
We got up and dressed and headed down for a leisurely breakfast – the buffet is served in the open air dining area next to the pool, which makes it a nice place to sit, but it is still very hot, even at this hour of the morning. The staff directed us to a table with a fan pointed at it and found us a high-chair for Andres, which made things a little easier. The buffet was okay, certainly not like the 5-star spreads put on by Asian and many Australian hotels, but they did have cereal with fresh cold milk, and that’s generally good enough for me.
After breakfast we headed back upstairs to cool down a bit and get ready to go out. Andres slept for a while and when he finally woke up again we went back downstairs and caught a taxi to the old town.
Cartagena has a long and interesting history – being on the Caribbean coast and quite a successful town after Spanish colonisation, was a ripe target for pirates and corsairs and others who sought to take advantage of the local wealth. After a few such attacks, the Spanish government sponsored the construction of port defences, with forts and barricades and such to help ward of raiders. The city still came under attack, and so more money was spent, eventually leading to the construction of a wall around the city as a key defensive mechanism. It only took 200 years to complete! Wikipedia has more on the history of Cartagena de Indias if you are interested.
This walled city still exists and was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1984 along with other key parts of Cartagena. Now, it is a prime tourist desitination, but still the centre of business and trade in the town. As we wondered through the narrow streets admiring the old colonial architecture and quaint little buildings, we were struck that despite being very old and protected, there are a mixture of very modern businesses and shops running from this area. It’s like development of the buildings was stopped, but life still went on – which gives the area a very ecclectic feeling, a blending of old and new. Many of the buildings have been well maintained, with new rendering on the walls, new paint, and new woodwork – all usually quite sympathetic to the original architecture.
We spent a couple of hours wandering around, trying not to collapse from heat exhaustion – and we eventually decided to stop at a nice little Italian restaurant for some lunch. Key to our decision was it was airconditioned! Lunch was a leisurely affair (things never happen too quickly in this part of the world), but it was delicious and we cooled down nicely.
After lunch, we continued our walk, discovering some of the main commercial areas with street vendors selling all manner of goods – although fruit and vegetables are the most popular, especially avocado (which are huge and smooth), lemons (which are small and green like limes), mangos, coconuts, and such.
Eventually we decided to head back to the hotel and recover from the heat. We decided not to take any photos on this outing – it was a camera-free day.
That evening, Andres was tired and grumpy, so rather than go out and try to find something to eat, we had room service for dinner.