Sadly, I think Antigua, Guatemala might lose the top spot on my list of most beautiful cities. Cartagena has everything: cobblestone streets, buildings dating back to the 17th century, Spanish forts, tree-lined plazas and lot’s of interesting things to see on the streets. Last night we went walking around and ended up at a small plaza where some kids were playing soccer (on one end 2 statues were used as goal posts). Lot’s of people just hanging out enjoying the cooler temperatures. A TV news crew even made a visit, presumably just to catch the local happenings around town.
The city is very safe and a strong police presence, especially in the touristy areas, helps keep it that way. Almost every other corner has a police officer on it. Several other corners also have some “ladies of the night” who do a cute little dance if they see you. I think it’s a good sign that the police aren’t packing huge machine guns like they do in… well, everywhere else. All the ones I saw just had a night stick and a handgun. The gringo presence here is still very small for such a large city (pop. 1.1 million). Hopefully it picks up because it really is an amazing place.
Karin and Marten leave for their home in the Netherlands tomorrow and won’t be back for a few weeks. I’ll miss them and it’s going to be strange not seeing them all the time but I’m happy they are able to make it home for a family visit. I still have to plan a route through Colombia so that’ll keep me busy tomorrow. Not too sure which roads I want to take south but I’ll stick to main roads due to repeated warnings about FARC activity further south and into the jungle areas on the other side of the mountains. I’ll look to head out Tuesday morning.