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Cartagena, Colombia

Port City Thursday, February 07, 2002
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Cartagena

Today was Cartagena-- a very modern Latin American Port. When I stepped out onto my verandah, the first thing I noticed was my camera lens fogging up ! It's tropical South American hot here, and very humid. I have to say, I was a bit weary of this port, but it is well policed and a very European-style city. I rented a cab with some fellow passengers and we went to the Monastery (on a hill overlooking the city/port), then to Old Town where beautifully colored colonial streets are full of fruit and merchandise vendors.

Internet Cafe

Stopped by an Internet cafe in a 200 year old bar, and was able to check my Hotmail account, for the grand total sum of $1.00 per hour. This place is amazing. My friend Patrick had a nice cool beer while I checked my emails. This is the kind of place where you could spend all afternoon (and not spend alot of money).

Major Container Port

What I had expected Cartagena to be, was crime-ridden, narcodollar supported city, but what I found was a pleasant, vibrant town of 800,000. Cartagena is a major container port, which exports coffee, consumer durables, and a huge amount of cut flowers. Excellent Colombian coffee was being sold for around $9.00 (for three pounds). Gasoline here, is $3.50 a gallon, even though Colombia and her neighbor, Venezuela are oil producers.

Working in Cartagena

We shared a pier with the Sun Princess, a huge mega-liner which dwarfed our ship (the had 2,040 passengers, and another 1,000+ crew). Cartagena was hot-- around 90 degrees and extremely humid. The typical worker makes $1.00 a day here. Middle class around $450 a month, and upper class anything over $1,000 a month.

A Host for Dinner

Last night I was a bit loopy, so I stood behind the Maitre-d in the formal dining room-- the normally anal Italian Maitre-d smiled and said, "Ok Pepe, you seat people" and so I seated people for most of the evening. The passengers were a bit confused, but the waiters thought is was just hilarious.

Bridge and Galley Tour

Today is another bridge tour, and a galley tour, to see where the fantastic meals are prepared. All food is prepared from scratch, and the bread ovens (with steam injection) smell so wonderful. Usually lunch is taken in buffet style on the upper deck, but dinner is either in a Italian Trattoria, or in the beautiful main dining room, which huge glass windows that overlook the back of the ship. Dinner consists of at least 5 courses, including caviar and a bottomless glass of red or white wine (all complementary). The presentation and quality of food is five-star.

Additional Photographs: Port City

(click on photos to enlarge)
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