August 22, 2015

Colombia Cartagena: Museo de Arte Moderno

The small Museum of Modern Art featured Colombian artists and I wish them success.  I enjoyed this last bit of culture before we had to say "Adios" to Colombia. 

August 21, 2015

Colombia Cartagena: Chivas Bus and Street Dancers

Our open-air Chivas bus was packed with mostly Spanish speaking tourists from all over Latin America. Whenever one of the other 17 buses came near, we were encouraged to shout the Spanish equivalent of "BORING BORING ... ". Each row was given a pint or two of rum, coke, ice and plastic cups. Then the emcee would ask something like "Which row is the most drunk?" Chile and Colombia tried to out shout each other for that honor. The onboard band played at ear shattering volume. We got off to dance under the night lights of the Castillo. When they let us off a second time to dance on the city walls, we decided to walk home.

 On our way home from our Chivas Bus adventure, we passed by our new favorite outdoor bar "SHOTS" and stayed for a few drinks, hoping the "Street Dancers" would be performing. We had to endure some less than entertaining entertainment but our patience was rewarded. My video was "too large" to transfer to this blog but trust me, these dancers were amazing.

Colombia Cartagena: San Basilio de Palenque

An hour drive brought us to San Basilio de Palenque, a UNESCO "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity." These were the earliest "Free Africans in America" per a Spanish decree in 1691. This was probably a concession to discourage this community from helping slaves arriving in Cartagena to escape. The 3500 inhabitants have preserved their language, music and traditions. Our local guide introduced us to an 81 year old musician who regaled us with tales of he and his band being invited to play in DC, Havana and Venezuela. Of course, he had to play and sing for us. 

 Lunch was on the way back to Cartagena at the lovely Villa Martha resort. An enterprising young man brought up two water buffalo who sat and laid down on command.   

August 20, 2015

Colombia Cartagena: City Highlights

Cartagena is delightful Spanish colonial city on the Cartibean. The walled city and Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other sights include Bocagrande on the Cartagena Bay, Convent of La Popa high above the city, the one eye / one leg / one arm protector against the British aka Admiral Blas de Lezo y Olavarrieta, Los Zapatos Viejos, Joyeria Caribe Emerald Museum and Factory, street music and a thoughtful exhibit about world problems as told by those with personal experience. We got a few hours break before we were picked up by horse carriage for another tour and dinner.

August 19, 2015

Colombia Medellin: Santa Fe de Antioquia

We drove hours through heavy traffic and a 4.5 km tunnel to reach Santa Fe de Antioquia, the first capital of Antioquia. It was fun to walk across the Cauca River on the "Puente de Occidente" suspension bridge built in 1887. The churches and shops were closed, so we ate lunch in a lovely restaurant and drove home. A relatively lazy day.

August 18, 2015

Colombia Medellin: City Highlights

A quirky baggage carousel surprised us when we arrived in Medellin. We dropped our bags at our open-air "ART" hotel and started our action packed day with a museum dedicated to Carlos Gardel of tango fame. 

The traditional "Bandeja Paisa" made of rice, beans, egg, sausages, avocado etc fortified us for what was for me the highlight of the day. We took the Metro and Metrocable over the sprawling and struggling barrio of Santo Domingo. For the first time, residents could travel downtown without scaling the mountainside. At the last stop is the "Biblioteca Espana" which serves as a cultural center and library for the residents. 

 Some on our tour took advantage of a two hour salsa lesson while I rested. After dinner, we watched the energetic salsa dancing at "El Eslabon Perdido" with live music.