Barcelona to Cartagena, Columbia

13 - 14 Nov 2005

Drug sniffing dog reception, beautiful colonial Cartagena

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 Jesus was at the hotel promptly at 7h30 to pick us up. Today was Sunday and, unlike the day of our arrival, there was hardly any traffic on the roads. Carlos and his wife were at the aeroclub to greet us and Jesus accompanied Flemming in the plane to the airport apron while I drove with Carlos and his wife. Like on our arrival, Carlos and Jesus took us to the various airport offices to speed things up for us.

We said farewell to our new friends and took off for Cartagena. Jesus had advised us to fly as much over the sea as possible due to drug traffickers who might mistake us for anti-drug police and shoot at us. As it turned out, on the odd occasion when we were flying over land, we were mostly above the clouds, so invisible to those on the ground. It was good to know that the stormscope was working because we had to go through some rain showers this time. The flight took just over 5 hours Ė the last of the long ones for a while.

Upon landing we were greeted by a whole army of customs officials as well as the anti-narcotics police with their Labrador. This was the second time we had to take everything out of the plane. It was boiling hot on the tarmac and difficult to keep our tempers. Also I had a splitting headache. The anti-narcotics police were pretty thorough, even sniffing our herb tea and my Agiolax laxative granules! I had thought they would only bother to do this on our departure from Colombia but, as Flemming said, we had been flying in Colombia before arriving at Cartagena and just might have picked up some drugs on the way.

Cartagena was one of the first cities to be built by the Spanish in South America and it has a beautifully preserved colonial centre. There are a couple of 5-star hotels in converted convents, but they didnít give generous discounts to pilots and were over 200 dollars a night, so we stayed at the Hostal San Diego in a lovely old house in the northern part of the colonial centre where the middle class used to live. Having saved on the room, we decided to have dinner at one of those 5-star convents, the nearby Santa Clara Hotel. One of the waiters showed us round the tastefully decorated hotel and swimming pool area. Later, we enjoyed a gourmet meal al fresco at their French restaurant.

Had a great time exploring the streets of Cartagena. We went into probably the best shop for quality handicrafts and replicas of pre-Columbian artwork. The owner was a charming Colombian lady married to a French archaeologist. When we told her we were living in Geneva, she said her husband supplied the Barbier-Mueller museum that specializes in pre-historic artwork. Quite a coincidence since, as I told her, I used to work as an au pair for the Barbiers back in 1967!

Another gourmet dinner, this time at the lively El Mar de Juan, frequented mostly by well-to-do young Colombians, and good looking ones at that. Some of the girls could have happily competed in the Miss Colombia beauty contest that was held that evening in Cartagena. One of the contestants had gracefully posed for me that afternoon.

On final for runway 01 in Cartagena

The swimming pool in the Santa Clara Hotel

Charming colonial Cartagena

The square near the Santa Clara Hotel, Cartagena

Breakfast in the courtyard in Hostal San Diego, Cartagena

A famous Columbian artist likes to make sculptures of fat women..

We met one of the miss Columbia candidates in Cartagena

Sundowner in one of the pretty squares in old town Cartagena

JAlbum 6.0 Copyright: Angela & Flemming PEDERSEN

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