From quiet Uruguay to chaotic Colombia!

LOCATION:  Cartagena, Colombia
WEATHER:  Hot.  High 90

We got up at 2:30 AM in order to catch a 3:00 AM taxi to the Montevideo  airport.  Our flight was at 5:00 AM, and it was good we got there early as lines were slow.  Colombia has some complicated immigration requirements.  We had to register ourselves on their immigration website yesterday.  It took about 5 tries each to do it.  I ended up typing in the wrong date of the flight, which I could not correct.  George lost his on-line immigration application in computer-land somewhere, so couldn’t do a screenshot. So, we were a bit worried that we would have issues.   At the airport, a friendly airline agent helped us retrieve George’s, and wasn’t concerned about my date boo-boo.   We had to complete the online registration by 4:00 AM.  Whew!

We flew on COPA Airlines which is based in Panama City, Panama.  Our flight took off on time.  We flew over Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia,  Brazil (including the Amazon River), Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and the Pacific Ocean,  landing in Panama City.     It was pretty much a 7-hour shot directly north and west up through South America.  We saw rugged mountains and then hours of hours of green  – perhaps the rain forest?  We are now officially in the Northern Hemisphere, but not too far north of the Equator.

As we neared Panama City, we saw the freighters in line to go through the Panama Canal. 

  In Panama City airport, they changed our gate at the last minute, so we had to sprint to the new gate, about a mile away.  Yikes!  The flight from Panama City to Cartagena was under an hour.  We flew over this pretty island on our descent.

The skyline of Cartagena reflects the “new Cartagena”.  We are staying in the Old Town – without high-rises.

Cartagena seems much more exotic than Punta del Este and Montevideo.  Definitely a Caribbean vibe.  Very chaotic.  Our chirpy taxi driver gave us a little tour on the way to our AirB&B.  He wants to be our private driver while we are here.  It is a big city of about one million people.

After getting settled in our little apartment, we started roaming the streets.  The front desk man gave us wristbands naming our building to find our way back,  just in case we got lost.  We thought it was kind of funny…..until we DID get lost and had to show our wristband to people on the street to help us!

First up was to get some Colombia pesos.  We are rich!  The ATM spit out $1, 111, 000 pesos.  We are millionaires!  (Equivalent is $200 USD.  I’d say that have a little inflation here! Each of the $50s is actually $50,000 pesos.

Next was to find George a baseball cap, as he had left his accidentally in Montevideo.  He doesn’t want to burn his bald head!   That accomplished by spending $25,000 pesos ($5), we found a bar to get out of the heat.

Final stop was to get a few groceries.  We will have breakfast in the room, and perhaps one dinner, but will mostly eat out. We bought a pineapple from a street vendor.    Such exciting food to try.

As evening approached, we went in search of dinner.  The horse-and-buggies were out driving tourists (mostly Spanish-speaking) around.

We found a place that only serves fish and seafood, which was fine with us.  It was quite exotic inside.

I had their ceviche which was out of this world.  It was served with plantain chips.

George ordered a whole grilled red snapper in a cilantro sauce, served over a bed of pureed yucca.  On the side were plantain fritters.

We watched this whole lobster being served..

We called it an early night, since we had awakened so early, and due to the 2-hour time zone difference.  Tomorrow we will do more exploring!

BOOK:   I read this entire book on the flight….. “The Stars Are Fire” by Anita Shreve.  I really like this author, and enjoyed a previous book of hers “The Pilot’s Wife”.  It is historical fiction, based on a real, massive fire in Maine in the 1940s.  5 stars out of 5

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