Into Colombia & Cartagena
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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
I originally toyed with the idea of sailing from Panama to Colombia through the San Blas Islands, a stunningly beautiful trip by all accounts.
A number things made it not work out that way:
- Sailing is about $375-$400 and takes 3 – 5 days.
- We couldn’t leave Panama City until the ship with our container departed allowing us to collect our “original” Bill of Lading. This makes timing difficult and we would have to pay for container storage if it sat in Colombia more seven days after arrival.
- Sticking with Vince and Marie wasn’t 100% necessary, though it kept things a lot simpler.
- We got plane tickets for $150 each (inc. taxes), see http://www.aires.aero/Home/Default.aspx
Late in the afternoon we catch a city bus for two and a half hours through downtown Panama City rush hour traffic. It’s obvious everyone else on the bus makes this trip daily and they zone out after no more than two minutes. Security at the airport is similar to elsewhere I’ve been in the world, and we soon find ourselves loaded into a little dash-8. I haven’t been in a plane with a propeller for a long time and I somehow feel like I’m back in small town Australia.
The flight itself feels like it’s over before it even begins, barely an hour in total. I step off the plane onto the tarmac with an enormous grin on my face as do Vince and Marie. We’ve made it to South America and couldn’t be happier.
The guy at customs is very friendly, simply asks if I am on vacation and happily stamps my passport and waves me through.
We find a cheap hotel in the Getsemani neighborhood of Cartegena and head out to explore. Immediately things feel different than in Central America – it’s very busy and more motorcycles and tuk-tuks give an Asian/Indian feel. Wandering into the old walled city is really cool, the whole area is very clean, well patrolled and heavily touristed making it feel very safe. Outside the old city is a lot more raw and dirty, though I have no reason not to feel safe and quickly get the hang of things.
Cartagena is a very beautiful city.
When my friend Mike’s trip to South America was unexpectedly cut short his ‘wish list’ of activities sat uncompleted – until now.
I’m not going to make this the focus of my journey, though it will be fun to see how many I can complete along the way:
- Bathe in the Amazon (but do not get a parasite).
- Have a fresh cup of Colombian coffee.
- Go to Carnival in Rio.
- Go to a soccer game in Brazil (but do not die in a riot).
- Visit the ancient ruins of the Incan city Machu Picchu.
- Stand on the Equator.
- Find penguins at the southern tip of Argentina.
- Ride an alpaca.
- Shear an alpaca.
- Eat chili in Chile.
- Learn five new swear words and say them to people.
- Go to a beach in Argentina.
- Helicopter tour of the Nazca Lines.
- Go to Lake Titicaca.
- Visit the Galapagos Islands (swim with iguanas).
- Visit Iguaçu Falls, if possible kayak or barrel roll down them.
- Visit the Patagonia glaciers.
- Meet a gaucho.
- Eat a guinea pig (Jess Baran highly disapproves of this).
- Eat world’s hottest pepper from Chile.
Feel free to leave a comment with your own suggestions