May 3, 2007 Cartagena, Colombia We left the San Blas at 3:00 pm and we were able to sail until midnight, when the wind turned on our nose. We motor sailed most of Friday, and then we were able to sail Friday evening until our arrival on Saturday, May 5, around 8:00 am. Along the way, we enjoyed a visit from dolphins (at least 10), and they accompanied us for about ten minutes. We checked into Club Nautico marina on Sunday and had a nice potluck with fellow cruisers that evening. It is our second day here, and already we are liking Cartagena, with its charming and colorful old town (Centro) and Bocagrande, where new high rises offer a dazzling contrast. We're excited to explore this interesting city, as well as to get some boat work done during our stay.
The old town is a walled city; the wall was built in the 1500's for protection during Spanish occupation. The wall, complete with cannons, is well preserved. The wall perimeter is eight miles, and you are able to walk on top of the wall for great views of the ocean and the town.
The old town comes alive at night. The streets are closed off to traffic, and people come out to stroll, shop in the boutiques and enjoy the many bars, restaurants and entertainment.. Street vendors display their colorful jewelry, handbags, belts and art. Horse drawn carriages carry their passengers around the town. In the plazas, there are various musicians, dancers and mime entertainment. We had dinner one night at Santa Lucia restaurant, which overlooks Plaza Santo Domingo. From there, we enjoyed a music and dance show, a mix of Latin and African rhythms. The gyrations of the dancers were incredible. We had after dinner drinks at the Hotel Charleston plaza where there was a terrific Latin band. It's a great place to sit outside and people watch; the weather is warm and balmy, and the ambience es muy sexy et romantico! Hotel Santa Clara is our favorite place to hang out for great music, drinks and food, in a beautiful setting.
There are many beautiful plazas, statues, churches, hotels, restaurants and boutiques in the old town.
Pat had surgery on his finger, which was bent, and was happy with the surgeon and the care he received. It has been difficult for him to work on the boat with his left hand bandaged.
As Colombia is well known for its emeralds, I decided to take my emerald earrings and ring to Lucy's Jewelry to be redesigned. They turned out great, and I was very happy with the results.
On Mother's Day, May 13, we awoke to high winds and rain. There were gusts of 35-40 knots, with one as high as 50 knots. The boats in the anchorage and in the marina were bouncing around. We were secure, but we kept vigilance as the boats alongside of us do not have anyone living aboard. We saw a boat adrift and it went alongside a concrete wall; the Navy came later to haul it off the wall. Another boat went adrift in the anchorage; the owner was ashore and quickly sped in his dinghy to the floating boat and managed to start the engine. We're not sure if the boat hit anyone in the anchorage. After about an hour, the storm passed through. The storm certainly got everyone's attention this morning!
We went to visit the Castille San Felipe, the largest fort in the Americas, built in the 1500's. We also went to La Popa, a convent at the top of a hill with views toward the city.
We have contracted with Juan Cisneros of Todomar boatyard to have our boat painted. We will also have some cabinets built by Gaston Fernandez. For boat work, we've found the level of expertise here to be excellent. While the boat was being worked on at Todomar, Susan went home to California to visit her parents. Pat stayed to supervise the work. During the boat work, we stayed at two lovely B&Bs (Casa La Fe and Casa del Curato) in the old town. After three and a half weeks, the boat was finished and it looked great. The topsides, hull and bottom were painted. We are back at Club Nautico, and Gaston is working on the cabinets, while Carlos, a hardworking young man of 20, is varnishing the deck woodwork.
It is now June 23, and we have been in Cartagena for seven weeks. We had planned to sail back to Miami for hurricane season, but we have decided to stay and sail back in late fall. We hope to take this opportunity to continue to enjoy this city and its surroundings, and take a trip in South America.
July 7 We took the boat out to Islas Rosarios, a three to four hour sail from Cartagena. En route, we hoped to catch an edible fish; instead, we caught a nurse shark! It took Pat five minutes to unhook it. The Rosarios are a popular getaway, with many charter boats bringing tourists out for the day or to a hotel. We had a cove all to ourselves, and it was wonderful to swim in the warm (88 deg.F), clear water. The snorkeling in the reef was very good. It was also a good opportunity to clean the bottom of the boat. On the way back to Cartagena, we caught a little tunny which we ate as sashimi that evening.
On July 16, Susan is traveling to Paris to meet Isabelle who is traveling from Mali. It has been over a year since we have seen each other, we we are both very excited! Our plans are to visit family in France, as well as Italy.
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