Friday 28th September – Cartagena

This morning we took a walking tour of the city of Cartagena in Spanish! I was starting to realise that Spanish in Colombia was a totally different ball game! Luckily our guide was really good about trying to speak slowly and clearly for us non-native speakers! Cartagena, besides being a beautiful town has a very interesting and sad history. It was a major port for the importation of African slaves in the past. So there are a huge mix of Indigenous, African and European amongst others in the town. Thousands of slaves were brought to South America through Cartagena and there are a number of monuments and museums in the town recognising this difficult history. We visited the church of St Peter Claver who assisted slaves with healthcare and food and confronted violent slave owners. Another interesting aspect to the history of Cartagena was the cities involvement in the Spanish Inquisition. Hundreds of people were murdered for not conforming to the Churche's religious teachings. During this time people were killed for being witches, sodomists and basically anything else that the church didn´t like.  In the afternoon, we visited some of these museums and churches to find out more about the history of slavery and the Spanish inquisition in the area.

In the evening we headed out for dinner and stumbled upon a really cool local square full of vendors selling beers and local food where people just seemed to hang out and watch street performers. We stopped and had a delicious margarita drink and watched some hip hop dancers who were awesome! A cool way to spend our last night in Cartagena.

Saturday 29th September

This morning we visited the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, a strategic and impenetrable fort designed to protect Cartagena from pirates. Luckily, the strength of the castle was never tested as it was finished right at the end of the pirating era. Today the castle has been restored and we were able to wander around for great views over Cartagena and also explore the extensive underground tunnels. 

Later that afternoon we caught a bus to Santa Marta – the jumping off point for the Ciudad Perdida trek which we were hoping to complete the following week.