After our exhausting four day trekking tour to Ciudad Perdida, we are looking forward to sitting and relaxing in Shujaa’s comfortable and above all air-conditioned driver’s cabin. The roads along the coast are very good (no comparison with the gruesome mountain roads in Colombia), but the road fees are partly horrendous especially for us as three-axle vehicle.
On the way to Cartagena we see in the evening, in the dark, a group of young men who stop the traffic with burning car tires. Two policemen were shot in the mountains just before we pass the village. That’s a bit scary, even if we did not have any contact with crime or threats.
Before we come to Cartagena, we climb a volcano …. However, it is only 20 meters high and so we are spared major exertions this time. Inside, there is probably a very healing mud bath, but at around 40 degrees outside, we do without it – even if our bones, which are still somewhat damaged, would have been happy.
Cartagena thrilled us from the first sight: we have a good parking place to stay next to the Hilton Hotel on the beach of the modern district of Bocagrande. With its skyscrapers it looks like Miami, only the beach life is typically South American. The old town of Cartagena we visit both in the evening and the following day and it turns out to be a true colonial jewel: beautiful churches, palm-lined squares and beautiful colonial houses with beautiful overgrown patios – sometimes spruced up and sometimes completely disintegrated. This morbid charm and the contrasts between new and old make Cartagena very special. In addition, great fashion shops, which sometimes have only fashion of Colombian designers, and excellent restaurants. Although all in all quite touristy (Cartagena is the most visited place in Colombia) – especially after our last few weeks, when we were in very untouristy areas – but overall very nice and consistent. We go out for dinner and enjoy civilization again.
The very hot and humid climate make us leave after 1.5 days again to the cooler highlands of Medellin. Before we head off we drive to the nearby island of Baru to Playa Blanca – it is considered the most beautiful Caribbean beach in Colombia: it is certainly, but for our taste too many people and the Colombians are just a celebration-joyful and entertaining type of people. In that respect, we only make a short sight-stop there. When we get into the mountains, the well-known streetscape of Colombia reveals itself to us again: narrow mountain roads, lame and smoldering trucks and crazy motorists who pass wildly without seeing anything. Since we also try to progress reasonably quickly we have to overtake constantly which makes the driving extremely exhausting. Karin thinks at some point, I would drive almost like a Colombian now …. But she is glad that I only drive “almost” like that.