Cartagena has long been on my bucket list. As we entered the harbor, the beautiful impressive skyline was bathed in morning sunshine. After we docked on the other side of The World (the ship), I was anxious to begin our tour. We booked a tour of the Old City, which included a photo op of the majestic Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, a Spanish fortress built for protection against pirates while shipping gold out to Europe; a visit to the Historical Museum to view a display of instruments of torture from the Spanish Inquisition; the Naval Museum and Folkloric Dancers; Las Bovedas, dungeons that now house boutiques; and the Jesuit Cloisters and Museum, where we learned the history of Saint Peter Claver, the priest who freed the slaves.
During our first stop at the fortress of San Felipe, we were swarmed by vendors as pesky as gnats. They were in our face everywhere we turned trying to sell us hats, necklaces, and other items. The fortress, built between 1536 and 1657, is the largest Spanish fort ever built in the New World. We continued our tour at the Old City, where our first stop was Las Bovedas, a series of small boutique shops where we were once again surrounded by vendors trying to sell us their wares. Then, it was back on the bus to the Jesuit Cloisters in the center of the Old City. As we stood in the courtyard listening to Wilson, our tour guide, one of our fellow passengers was almost hit by a mango that fell from the tree above us. Anxious to avoid the peril of falling mangoes, we visited the museum to view the exhibit highlighting the life of Saint Peter Claver. A short walk took us to the Naval Museum, where we viewed a performance by native folkloric dancers before going in to view the exhibits, all in Spanish, about the history of the Spanish and English invasions and subsequent independence in 1811. We briefly visited the Historical Museum to view several instruments of torture used during the Inquisition. We had approximately 20 minutes of free time before we ended our tour in the Park near the statue of Simon Bolivar. We were a few minutes late getting back to the ship because Winston had to go find a little lady, who hadn’t been able to keep up with the tour.
As we left the harbor that afternoon, I good a good photo of Fuerte San Fernando de Bocachica, the fort that guards one of the main entrances to Cartagena’s harbor, situated on Tierra Bomba Island.