Cartagena is a large Caribbean beach resort city on the northern coast of Columbia and it is the fifth largest city in the country.
With it's drug years behind it, Cartagena has become a centre of economic activity in the Caribbean, as well a popular tourist destination.
Activity and development of the region is dated back to 4000 B.C. around Cartagena Bay by varying cultures of indigenous peoples.
The Spanish colonial city was founded on June 1, 1533 and named after Cartagena, Spain. Cartagena served a key role in the development
of the region during the Spanish eras; it was a centre of political and economic activity due to the presence of royalty and wealthy viceroys.
In 1984, Cartagena's colonial walled city and fortress were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For this leg of our journey, the tour we selected was the Mangrove Eco Canoe Journey, which included a brief bus tour of the city.

This is the area of Cartagena the locals call "Little Miami", so named because it reminds them of Miami's skyline.

Pulling into port, we spotted this schooner . . .

. . . which is a tourist boat, providing tours of the harbour area.

While we were not touring the fortress, the but stopped there so we could take
pictures. This is the kiosk where you pay your fee to take the tour. Relatively
cheap, it costs only US $10 to see the entire fortress.

The Castillo San Felipe de Barajas.
During the 17th century the Spanish King commissioned the building of several
forts in the area, which resulted in over 11 km of walls surrounding the city. The
Castillo is considered to be the strongest and most fortified fort ever built by
the Spanish for it's colonies.

The Castillo was named in honour of Spain's King Philip IV.


Loosely translated, it means: "Castillo San Felipe de Barajas has been
preserved, restored and managed since 1923 by the Society for Public
Improvements of Cartagena".


Outside the fortress were crowds of street vendors, hawking
anything from water to silver jewellery. They were so 'in your
face' it was actually annoying.



The tour guide offered to take our picture outside the fortress,
so we let him.

He took one of Jay too.

One of the statues outside the fortress - probably King Philip IV.


After the stopover at the fortress, we headed out to where we were to board
the canoes. The area is in the poor part of Cartagena, so the driver
drove directly on the beach to reach our destination.

That's Dina (in the yellow top) waiting for her turn to board.


That's me . . . and in case I you're wondering why I always where the same
top on shore excursions, it's because it's a sheer fabric, which is cool, and
it keeps my skin from burning, which it's prone to do.


The canoes each hold four people and have a small platform at the back
where the guide stands, similar to the gondolas in Venice.


And we're off. The water is not deep (about 2 feet) which allows the guide
to use a pole to propel the canoe. A group of children are waiting for us
at the entrance with the hope we will buy the seashells they have collected.


The mangrove trees have trails cut through them which allowed us to pass.


As you can see the groves would be almost impassable without the trails
cut through them. The hive like thing at the top of the picture is a termites
nest. People here leave them alone, so the termites stay in their nests and
don't get into their homes.


Around the bend are the same children we saw before. Turns out they have
cut their own paths through the mangroves and the swamp so they can have
several opportunities to sell their shells.


We're out of the mangroves and into the main swamp area. To the right
is someone's home . . . rather run down, but home.


Dead trees in the swamp.


Fellow tourists.


We look like a congo line!


As you can see, the canoes were small and very uncomfortable. You didn't
dare move around too much for fear of tipping it.

This Great White Egret was the only wild life we saw on the trip,
much to our guides surprise.


Locals drift net fishing.


More mangroves.


And of course the children were there to greet us on the way back. They
would hold up their shells and say "Dolla! Dolla!" in hopes that someone
 would buy one.


A closer look at a termite nest.


A fellow tourist took these pictures of Dina and I . . .


. . . And Jay and Izak.


On the way back I managed to get a picture of these ruins, probably
someone's home at some point.


Heading back in, as another group is heading out.


After the canoe trip we drove to the old town, were we stopped to do some
shopping. The 'mall' your looking at use to be a prison.


The old city wall can be seen from the shopping area.


Colombians seem to like the colour yellow for their buildings!


A local tour bus parked by the old wall.

On the way back to the ship, I shot some pictures of the local scenery through
the bus window. Here we have a view of one of the many fortresses in the area.


Street scene within the old city.


While a regular taxi is shown here, anyone who owns a motorcycle or moped
has become self-employed as a one passenger taxi as a result of the 11%
unemployment rate. They're everywhere (except in this picture).

One of the many churches in Cartagena.

The beach area - in the tourist area. Much nicer than the beach in the poor area..

More beach front.

The old city wall.


Partially hidden behind the traffic light is the old clock tower.

Castillo San Felipe de Barajas as seen from across the Bay.

That building at the top of the hill is a monastary.

A popular place for weddings and other functions.


The schooner that we saw earlier pulling into port.

The Old Clock Tower when its not hiding.

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