Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cartagena, Colombia, N10.24.549 W75.32.527 Feb 13 – 24 2011

We arrived back in Cartagena after a pleasant downwind passage, again under headsail alone.  The only exciting (non event) was the passing of the River Magdalena which is reputed to be an area of some concern because of all the water detris and debris that outflows off the mainland after heavy rains.  We traversed this area approx 10 miles offshore and still found ourselves in muddy murky water infested with large flotsam worthy of ‘keeping an eye’ for that elusive log that could tear away the rudder.  Unfortunately we did not escape totally without some damage as our rudder apparently did take a strike with some minimum surface damage.  Lucky for us it was not serious and we did not notice the damage until our arrival back in the busy bustling port of Cartagena.

Our purpose for returning to Cartagena was to provision, get our mainsail repaired, dinghy cover patched and get Doc’s next chemo treatment taken care of.  So with provision completed, refueled, water tanks full, sail and dinghy repairs finished and with only Doc’s treatment to do, we discovered, that morning, to our dismay that our dingy and motor had been stolen during the night.  Needless to say, we were not happy and our good friends John and Jerie on Peking came to our rescue and loaned us their dinghy to get Doc ashore.  It was a couple of days before we were able to find and negotiate a replacement dingy and motor.  

We did enjoy spending time and reacquainting ourselves with old friends and spending time and enjoying wonderful food at the fine eatery de Olivia as well good pizza and fellowship with fellow cruisers on Wed evening at ???? Pizzeria followed up with desert at the local ice cream boutique...mmm what a treat! One of the must see things to do while visiting Cartagena is a trip into the Old Walled City.  The largest oldest and largest Cathedral stands majestically at it's center.  There are miles of paved stone pathways lined with small shops and restaurants.  It is a real treat to re-visit this quieter gentler side of Cartagena.

One of the fun things to do while visiting Cartagena is to take a tour to the ‘Mud Baths’.  This is literally what it sounds like.  It is an offshoot of a Volcano that has created this mammoth cone filled with bubbling warm liquid mud.  You are greeted by a tour guide who takes you up 150 +/- steps and you are slowly immersed into the crater along with another 25 hot sweaty bodies too be totally covered in grey liquefied clay.  For $3.00 you can have a massage while you soak in the mud.  The experience lasts 15 minutes, the memory a lifetime.  After climbing out and sliding down the long staircase you walk to the nearby lake you are stripped and scrubbed by experienced hands until you are squeaky clean…or at least mud free.  Kaija highly recommends this experience.

 We left Cartagena with very mixed feelings given the circumstances.  The city is beautiful and the people can be warm and friendly.  However, clearly the anchorage around Club Nautico is not safe and cruisers need to beware that there is no assurance of protection for your valuables unless they are securing stowed, lifted & locked to your vessel.

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