blog 4/29/14- Colombia update
We are enjoying our stay in Colombia. We usually spend our first day in a new country
dealing with immigration, customs, internet access, cell phone, bathroom keys and electrical hookup. These
chores required nearly a week in Colombia due to our arrival in Semanas Santos, the Easter holy week. Since
Colombia is very religious, the entire country shuts down for a week of drinking, loud music, 24/7 parties and prayer. Even
the following Monday was slow due to a nationwide hang over.
City of Santa Marta
Santa Marta is a mixture of old and new. It
was the first city established by the Spanish in Colombia for storage and shipment of riches pilfered from the indigenous
people. There a large historic district near our marina which we are still exploring. Today Santa Marta
is a very modern city where the police ride Segways. Most of all, Santa Marta seems to be a beach resort
for Colombian tourists.
Last weekend, we traveled by bus to Cartagena. The trip
there was slow as the driver had to deal with a backlog to text messages. The return trip was fast since
the driver did not attempt to avoid head on collisions. Cartagena itself is the most beautiful city we
have visited, even surpassing Dubrovnik and San Francisco. We stayed in a wonderful hotel within the old
walled city and enjoyed great restaurants, bars and historic sites. The forts, churches and convents were
magnificently preserved and displayed.
Several family members and friends have expressed concern over
our stay in Colombia. While the country certainly has a history of drug violence, kidnapping and revolution,
we feel very safe. The only country we have visited with more security is Israel. In
the tourist areas of Cartagena and Santa Marta, there is literally an armed policeman on every corner.
Only once have we felt any concern.
For several days, we had noticed a soldier patrolling the marina in full battle gear carrying a machine gun.
One day while we were having lunch in a café, we saw him run towards the marina gate carrying his machine gun-
apparently summoned for some emergency. We were looking for fox holes when he returned carrying a huge
ice chest. He was followed by an officer with two machine guns. They loaded up
one of the Armada speed boats and were joined by other officers and ladies. Soon they were off an
afternoon cruise on the bay. Of course, the enlisted man stayed on the dock guarding the empty berth
and awaiting their return.
Colombia has been like a Spanish immersion course since few people speak English. Practically
everyone is friendly and curious where we are from. Nevertheless, we are being careful.
s/v Georgia J
Moored in Marina Santa