Monday, April 9, 2012

Sea Day &  Cartagena, Colombia

A stop on the last of Traveler Al's "Almost a Last Hurrah" Voyages.

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Cartagena - Antique map reproduction on sale at a souvenir shop on top of the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas.

Sea Day -  

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 was a sea day as the ship headed southwest to the Caribbean coast of Colombia on the South American continent.  We were definitely sailing the playgrounds of the pirates, privateers and buccaneers who were out to intercept fat, Spanish galleons loaded with gold, silver and the riches of the New World back in the 15th and 16th centuries. 

I had a great time getting into the swimming pool for a bit today. It was very nice to be gently rocked by the waves caused by the ships motion while in the  pool's salt water.  

I won $10 that night in the casino after dinner!

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena is pronounced with the Spanish "J" sound - which is like the English "H" sound as in the word - "hasty'.  So, the correct pronunciation of Cartagena is "Cart-ah-HAY-nuuh." 

Panoramic view of Cartagena, Colombia from the top of the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas.

Our planned departure from Cartagena was set for 1:30  in the afternoon to arrive in time at the entrance to the Panama Canal for a daytime transit of the canal on the next day  Therefore, all the tours departed early in the morning and returned by departure time.  The weather was a a bit threatening, overcast skies, warm and very humid. In the afternoon just before our ship left the city, there were heavy squalls of wind and downpours of rain.

I had signed up for a tour which included the Old Town inside the city walls of Cartagena and the fortification of Castillo San Felipe de Barajas  The tour started with the Castillo

The Castillo from the public plaza at the base of the mound of stone and brick clad earthen fortress.

Ken by a public sculpture - Castillo San Felipe de Barajas in the backgroud. Photo by Ken

Wikipedia tells me that Cartagena was founded in 1533. The Spanish were very active in the New World almost a century before the first colonists arrived in 1606 at Jamestown in Virginia - the first colony in what became the United States. 

The city of Cartagena was sacked and plundered repeatedly by pirates and privateers, including by Sir Frances Drake in 1589, who followed tradition and burned about half of the city when his occupation ended. 

Ascending the steep ramp up to the top of the Castillo

An actor or busker in period costume - at the Castillo

On top of the Castillo - Guess where the only restroom is?  Hint, the man is pointing at it.

The Castillo's fortifications were designed to repel attacks from the land.

A replica of the types of cannon used at the Castillo

Imagine trying to scale the walls while under fire.

Almost to the top - Castillo San Felipe de Barajas

The wealthy city was vital as the transshipping point for gold and silver from the mines of Peru on its way to Havana and then across the Atlantic to Spain.  After Drake's occupation and destruction of the city, the Spanish crown subsidized Cartagena's defense by the modern equivalent of 2 trillion dollars per year or almost 22 million gold reales.

The British with the assistance of men from the American Colonies unsuccessfully invaded  and attacked Cartagena in 1741. They were defeated by the Spanish defenders, the rainy season and Yellow Fever.

Military engineers from Europe were brought to Cartagena to design and build the city's walls and fortifications.  The lynch pin for this defensive complex is the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas (The little castle of St. Philip of Barajas - King Philip of Spain) which is a giant mound of earth, covered with stone, brick and concrete cladding with sentry boxes, gun ports, storage rooms and tunnels that link the Castillo to the other 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) of fortifications and walls around the city.  When the fortifications were completed, the city was considered impregnable.

Entry to a tunnel that leads downward past various firing positions and out of the Castillo.
Tunnel leading to other fortifications, firing positions and out of the Castillo
The Castillo was not designed to be a permanent base with constant occupation. It was occupied to deal with a possible attack. Defenders would man the Castillo when an alarm was sounded.

When the King, Philip V,  reviewed the costs for the construction of fortifications of Cartagena and Havana in 1759 when they were completed; it is reported that he walked to a window with a telescope and declared he should be able to see them from Spain they were so expensive!

Click here to learn much more about Caragena, Colombia

Cartagena is a very typical, Spanish Colonial city, expecially the old city inside the city walls. The architecture and beautiful use of pastel colors - pink and white, blue and white, yellow and white - in the houses and buildings reminded me of my short visit to Granada, Nicaragua.several years earlier.

A beautiful old house inside the city walls of Cartagena, Colombia

A street corner inside the city walls of Cartagena, Colombia

Near the outdoor bus center - Cartagena, Colombia

Note the Moorish influence in the color and design of this home.

Near the port area of Cartagena, Colombia

An upscale resort area near one of the beaches of Cartagena.

A supermarket - not much parking available.
Statue of Pegasus and colt just outside the walled Old Town - Cartagena, Colombia

An entry to the Old City - Cartagena, Colombia - Photo by Ken

Narrow street in the Old City - Cartagena, Colombia - Photo by Ken

Inside the Old City, Cartagena, Colombia

An old theater near the Old City, Cartagena, Colombia

In the Old City just before a downpour of rain started 

Christmas display?  In the Old Town, Cartagena, Colombia

Spanish Colonial architecture in the Old Town - Cartagena, Colombia

Next - The Panama Canal Transit

Please click the colored link to view my other blog about living in Hawaii "Life in the 50th State"

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  1. Thank you very much for all very interesting reports, Al,
    Enjoy your break
    Jacqueline Nieser