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Cartagena 21st May

May 21, 2017

Cartagena. 20.5.17. 2
There is a man opposite our balcony sitting in the doorway of a vacant building. He crochets. Does a beautiful Job: full of colour and imagination. A nice man whose face bursts into a wholesome smile when we greet him. He doesn’t hassle the passersby like many others are inclined to do. But we haven’t seen him sell anything. That is until today when we watched him make at least three sales to women passing down the street. He immediately bought himself a drink and something to snack on. We gave him the thumbs up which brought a smile to his face. Once dusk sets he stops his crocheting and his place in the doorway is taken by a human statue. For 20 minutes he blackens his body then adds gold to his chest, places a thick chain around his neck and also holds a shorter length. Then stands immobile while the young buxom girls pose next to him. All Colombians women seem to be buxom.
Below us, on our side of the street, a young violinist tunes up just as we are sitting down to a meal. She plays quite well and only lasts a few hours though going to bed with the sound of a violin playing is not the worst sound you can think of. She even managed Dylan’s ‘Times are a Changin’’ bless her soul. I floated a 10,000cop note($5) down to her tonight, she was very grateful. A beer to the crocheter also went down well. It is very hot on the street even at 8.30 at night.
There are so many locals trying to make a living out of the tourists walking the streets. An older man trying to sell sunglasses is a sorry case. I slipped him a couple of dollars yesterday and will give him a few more before we leave.
The apartment has been great. On one of the main thoroughfares of the old city it is very noisy but being in the middle of the action compensates. The apartment itself is lacking in certain amenities and the TV and microwave have not worked since arriving despite contacting the owner.
Today saw us up early walking to the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajes. A fort inland built in the 17th century to deter the pirates and invaders attacking from the landward side. Cartagena is built on a bit of a peninsula meaning boats can enter further to the south and attack the city from the land. The British tried it in 1739 and although taking the city, were defeated when they attacked the fort. They reckon that if the British had conquered, South Americans would be speaking English, not Spanish.
Perhaps we have stayed in Cartagena a few days too long. Most of the sights have been visited and have had a relaxing time, but it is good to just wander around, grab an ice cream and sit down in a plaza and have a chat to the old men who seem to fill most of the seats in the plazas. I had a beard trim and hair cut the other day. That in itself was an experience; four barber chairs and four older barbers plus a younger man. When not busy they sit on chairs on the street outside the premises. The barbers’ chairs are old, the ceiling noticeably cob webbed as you lie back getting trimmed. A political march goes by, there are waves and cheers as some of the marchers greet their barber friends. The odd woman breaks away from the march to give them all a hug. The cut and trim took well over an hour.
21st May.
Tomorrow we fly to Mexico City where we stay a few days before catching a bus for a 5-6 hour ride to Vera Cruz. The boat is meant to arrive on the 31st or 1st June. It has just left the Dominican Republic heading to Port au Prince in Haiti. Then it continues on to Cuba, Miami and finally Vera Cruz. Such an interesting route. Luke is following its progress on a handy app for shipping.

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