Today was Ryan's last day in Columbia. Over the past two weeks, we've seen and done a lot! I'm pretty sure he enjoyed himself and he remarked that Columbia was way better than his expectations. Yay! I'm glad.
Yesterday I booked a shuttle for dad and me to Cartagena for noon. Ryan had previously booked a flight from Santa Marta to Bogota for the same day. We paid our bill at the beach hostel (770,000 pesos!) and I tried to reconfirm our shuttle, but it was a woman running the front desk and her English was not as good, so instead of confirming our noon shuttle, she made a new reservation for us for 11:00am.
I sent some emails inquiring about sailboats to Panama and had a few exchanges and ended up making reservations on a catamaran called Nacar. It's the next boat leaving, on October 22, they had room for only two more people in a private double cabin. $600 per person for a 5 day trip, includes all your food.
About 10:40, we headed to the front of the hostel to wait for the shuttle while Ryan had the desk get him a taxi.
The taxi showed up in no time, and Ryan was off to the airport. Our shuttle showed up about 11:30.
The shuttle was uneventful. We stopped in Baranquilla for a 20 minute stop (about 2 hours from Santa Marta), then another 2 hours to Cartagena. The shuttle stopped at the shuttle office, then the driver, in his very broken English, asked where we were going, I showed him the name and address of the hostel from the email, and he seemed to know where it was. Dad was all concerned, asking me if he knew the address, if he was taking us there, did I have a picture of the hostel to show him. Dad needed to chill, the driver would get us there! I asked dad to turn on his Wi-Fi, so I could get a better map of the place. Once on, I started getting IMs from Ryan, he was at the Santa Marta airport and really struggling. There were no screens showing the flights, all the announcements were in Spanish, the plane (he thinks) was late, and he had no idea what was going on. And nobody at the airport spoke any English. He sounded so confused. I guess he eventually found a doctor that spoke English and the doctor helped him it.
Dad and I got checked into our hostel and went out for supper. It was raining cats and dogs and thundering like crazy, the streets were starting to flood. Dad had a hankering for something a bit familiar, so we choose a fried chicken place, essentially a Colombian version of KFC.
It stopped raining while we ate, so we headed back to the hostel to see if we could find our way through the maze of very tiny streets. We made it with the help of Google maps.
I tried IMing Ryan when we got back, but no reply, so he must have got on the plane eventually.
We headed back out to explore the old city in the evening. It is soooo bustling with people. Dad wanted ice cream, so we stopped at an ice cream place. As the evening wore on, everything just seemed to get busier.
The old city is huge. Every few blocks is a square or small park. Many of the squares have outside restaurants and patios in and around them. We'd look down a road and it won't look like there's anything at the end, but you'll walk it anyway and around the corner is another bustling square filled with activity.
We wandered near the part of the wall where a huge outdoor seating area was, and loud music. There was a large outdoor restaurant/bar area with all kinds of folks sitting around watching some dance (looked like flamenco dancing) with other guys playing music on drums. Of course you also have the street vendors and hawkers wandering around trying to sell you their wares. Over the edge of the old wall you could see the tall masts of a sailing ship, so we walked up the wall and saw the Cartagena waterfront cityscape. Across the road was a tall sailing ship in the harbor, another older looking sailing ship was also tied up and was obviously a bar, tons of people on it having a blast, and a lineup on the wharf to get on. Tall skyscrapers all along the waterfront made it look like a very modern, cosmopolitan city.
In short, my mind was blown, this was quite amazing. I wish Ryan could have seen it.
We ended up walking around for maybe 3 hours and still didn't see everything in the old city, but decided to head back around 9:30, everything still very bustling all over. Lots of tourists, both backpacker t types and higher end types staying in one of the many expensive and fancy hotels here. And so much shopping!
Dad went to bed and I stayed up and read, then went to bed around 11.