#5 Colombia, Feb. 2, 2014

DSC00869I started my day in Cartagena with a walk around the DSC00878Muelles (Walls) of the Old City. There I could also look across the water and get a glimpse of the New City. Continuing on, I finally was able to go inside the Cathedral and then went to the Palace of the Inquisition, DSC00907on the street DSC00906of the same name, where lots of bad stuff went down from 1610 until Independence put a stop to it in 1821. DSC00905The major crimes were magic, witchcraft and blasphemy. Hmmm—I wonder how many uppity women were charged with these? In all about 800 people received their execution verdicts from the window on the side of the building and were executed in an auto da fe in the plaza.

I walked on to the Church of Santo Domingo with its cockeyed bell tower and pretty DSC00942DSC00937orange color. Another Botero statue decorated the

plaza directly in front

of the church. Next to the church was an agency to support women. They had a nice popular DSC00945arte display in there. I especially like this ‘India Lisa.’ Then it was time to go back to the hostal and cool off.

There had been a notice posted that the city was shutting off the water for 18 hours starting Tuesday morning at 8:00 AM. I got my shower in before that, and we had disposable plates and cups for breakfast, but flushing the toilets was another matter! They had a big garbage pail of water by the bathrooms, but I noticed that was all gone early on. It was a problem all day, but the water came back on at midnight so all was forgiven.

I chose this day to go out of town (good strategy) to La Boquilla, a small fishing village DSC00984DSC00965nearby. The bus let me out right on the DSC00964beach where there were some boats and thatched hut restaurants. I don’t like to go swimming alone in the ocean, so I only photoed some birds, looked at the beach, had an agua con gas, rode through the village on DSC00997the bus, and went back to town. It was a pleasant but low-key day.

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Another day I hired a taxi to take me to a couple of high-up places—yes, it’s pretty hot to walk UP! The Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas was constructed in 1657. It is the strongest and DSC01003DSC01008largest fort ever built by the Spanish in the Colonies, and was never conquered.

 

It’s really big and covers the whole of San Lazaro hill. It offered nice views of Cartagena. It is built with a series of tunnels for distribution of provisions and communication.

DSC01019Moving on (and up) my next stop was the Convento de la Popa, whose real name is the Convento de Nuestra Señora DSC01016de la Candelaria. Popa supposedly means ‘stern’ as in boat, because it kind of looks like that. It was founded in 1607 by the Augustine fathers. It has a lovely chapel, a flower-filled courtyard, beautiful DSC01015views and a tranquil setting, which was most welcome DSC01024after the furious traffic that my taxi plowed us through. There were two representations of people worshipping DSC01020a sheep here—don’t know what that was all about. There were also ‘exvotos,’ which are silver thank-you medallions for healing, shaped like body parts.

 

 

I had intended to go on to the Mercado Bazurto, which was also out in this direction. We did, that is we tried, but this was more than heavy traffic or even gridlock—people, cars, wheelbarrows, and buses were going every which way and it became impossible. Through all this traffic leading up to the actual market were zillions of stands selling everything under the sun. It was kind of interesting to see that kind of chaos, though, but we headed back to where we had started, at my direction. An interesting morning!

Interesting to observe: ALL of the young women in the hostal are wearing little pretty dresses with bra showing, long hair and flip flops. I don’t mean ‘most,’ but 99 and 44/100 %! Apparently they all got the memo, but I didn’t. I think I didn’t make the weight cut-off, which is probably about 110 pounds. So it goes. And, interestingly, they are from all over the world—-Argentina, Brazil, Canada and all over Europe. What a small world we live in!

A landmark here is the Monumento de la India Catalina, which is where I got off the bus DSC01041from the airport, and where I, again, got the bus to the airport. It’s a beautiful statue—.

I got my flight to Cali and, while the taxi had trouble finding my hostal, we finally found it. Again, this city is steeply uphill and downhill. My Italian roommate (2 persons in this dorm with bathroom) kindly exchanged bunks with me so I have a bottom bunk. Cali is definitely a grittier city than Medellin or Cartagena. There aren’t many tourists and it seems quite work-a-day.

DSC01073I had breakfast (including arepa con queso-yucca cake with cheese) and then went DSC01043exploring downtown and saw several churches and museums, including their Gold Museum—from the Calima people who lived around here. Again, it was wonderful. Their newest church, finished in 1948 was quite surprising with its Gothic look. Inside a painting credited with many DSC01042miracles was titled, “El Señor del Cane” or “Lord of the Sugar Cane.”

 

 

 

This whole valley raises sugar cane and the DSC01051Conquistadores brought in many African slaves to work the fields. Consequently the skin tones are darker here than in other places in Colombia where I’ve been, as in DSC01091my cook and waitress for linner the other day at a seafood restaurant.

 

 

 

I visited the Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia, but modern art is a mystery for DSC01097me. Obviously I don’t understand it or haven’t seen enough of it. One presentation was a movie of a young man who stared into the camera, then slowly ate some green grass. I’m sure it had some deep meaning, but what? I liked some of the colorful paintings.

DSC01108I had one more thing left to see in Cali, and DSC01106that was the San Antonio Church with some special statues. I had tried to see them once but the church was closed. Later I was successful in gaining DSC01120entrance to the church. These figures are ‘tallas quiteñas’ meaning they are 17th C. figures in the style of the Quito School.

There was a celebration going on in a small amphitheatre just adjacent to the church. Music and dancers from Chile were performing, maybe because it was Saturday night. They were also preparing for a wedding in the church.

And as I was going back to the hostal I could see the copycat of Rio’s “Christ the Redeemer” on a high hill overlooking Cali.DSC01100

Tomorrow I shall go to Popayán.

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