Colombia! I know, right!? Who’d have thought we would end up here!? Certainly not us and probably not you. Whilst we’re actually really glad to be here, it wasn’t stress free and that was just getting here! You see, we had to book another flight at Panama airport to depart from out of the country we hadn’t even arrived in yet. We were better prepared this time but it still hurt to have to do this. Predefined times and dates are a traveller’s nightmare. Still, we gave ourselves two weeks to get a feel for this country in whatever way we could.
Panama was good to us in one way; it saved the bad weather it had been accumulating for the day of departure!
Here’s us leaving Panama and entering Colombia 🙏
For Covid reasons, Colombia doesn’t want people from Brazil to enter. Most countries clearly state that as long as you have not passed through Brazil in the last 14 days, no problem. Strangely we couldn’t explicitly locate this ‘14 days’ reference here so we essentially ‘chanced’ it on the basis of noting less than common sense. For real, no joke.
Awaiting border control we genuinely believed that we had made a fatal error as it was looking sketchy simply because of Vivian’s (Brazillian) passport. It honestly took over ten minutes and several internal calls before we felt we would be OK after all. Imagine how those ten minutes felt. We would have been devastated in many ways if we were rejected at the Colombian airport and we would have also felt properly cheated having not been anywhere near Brazil in over a month!
Anyway after those ten antagonising minutes, migration forms and negative Covid tests handed over, sense prevailed and the authorities thankfully let us enter. That’d have been an expensive mistake for our wallets if they hadn’t.
Within just a couple of hours of landing, we had interacted in some way with airport staff, security staff, taxi drivers and our hotel staff. Immediately I received what I hoped would be the general vibe about the people here and it was akin to what I had heard and read: A relaxedness and friendliness to them. Are you quietly surprised? Cue the coffee and drugs lines lol.
We remember this “people-feeling’ in Costa Rica once we had left the capital but in terms of instantly feeling and sensing it, we’d have to go back to Mexico.
So, Cartagena. A port city but also a city from mainland Spain not a million miles away from Malaga that the Spanish brought over with them those hundreds of years ago founding and naming the city here in Colombia back in 1533.
The old town/centro boasts walls that are 400 years old and an impressive 11 kilometres of concrete and mortar fortification. Completion was said to have taken nearly 200 years to complete! Too many coffee breaks, I reckon. In fact, I’m surprised it didn’t take this lot 250 years to complete having observed their laidback ways.
Ok, admittedly we’ve joined in participating with the said laidback ways by enjoying their proudest export and I don’t mean Shakira Shakira.
I mean you can’t be in Colombia and not drink coffee, right? Even if your taste buds can only cope with the western variation of ‘coffee’ and man, this was plenty strong! So who of you lot want some coffee for back home!? Drop us a comment if so and we’ll try our best to accommodate luggage wise..
The main tourists attractions of the town would be to see a 500 year old castle that has in its history been invaded by pirates, admirals and barons or to do some boat excursions. We’d have rather the latter but opted for the former, a visit to San Felipe Castle.
We’ve spent the last 4 nights here; we had a couple of nights just outside the walled city followed by a couple of nights within it which made for a authentic experience and provided visuals of colonial architectural and ‘feels’ of a special small village.
Regarding the four images below and how different and varied they each are; they were all taken from the same guesthouse.
My hair might be a little longer but it’s nowhere near long enough for Vivian to call out ‘Rapunzel‘ to me on the balcony.
The rest of our time here was spent strolling the streets absorbing the colourful delights of the town. We’ve also thankfully rekindled that lovely feeling of being able to eat, drink and enjoy fresh fruit snacks without it massively hurting our wallets like it did in Central America.
Here are just a few more images of the streets around Cartenga which don’t really do it justice. It’s both pretty, characteristic and authentic.
One late afternoon we stumbled upon a square that looked to have a Christian mass taking place. I sat on the perimeter for a short while until it ended however straight after, people broke into song. It was a lovely moment and I’ve supplied a short impromptu 30 second clip of it. Hopefully just from that you’ll get a feel for the people and the atmosphere I tried to describe earlier.
So with Cartenga visited, it’s time to move on and today we’ll hopefully do exactly that. Notice how scarred we are by all these airport experiences that we now exist in a state of mind where we’re never really 100% sure if we can board the flights we’ve already paid for. Brutal, huh.
If things go to plan I’ll get a post out on the weekend and this next location we’re particularly looking forward to so I really hope it lives up to what we’re hoping it to be. There might be a surprise in store too but it won’t be anything you can think of.