Sunday, March 27, 2016
Cartagena, Colombia - 19 Mar 2016
We gathered at a bus for an 8 am Eco Canoe Tour through a mangrove swamp at the outskirts of the city, where progress was halted on shoreline development in order to protect and preserve the remaining mangrove swamps. We would drive to a small village where Afro-Colombian peoples still partake in centuries-old customs of net-fishing. Prior to that, however, we drove through the heart of Cartagena for a city tour that included the “Walled City” and “Old Fortress” that protected the Colombian people from British attack in the 1700’s.
The new city itself is a contrast in socioeconomic situations that includes sky-rises surrounded by squalor. The Boca Grande, or Little Miami as the locals call it, is a skyscraper complex that is impressively built along the edge of the port city that successfully obscures the poverty that pervades the area when you drive through it. But folks are friendly, and life is bustling everywhere. Our stop at the Old Fort was a brief 10-minute opportunity for locals to hock their goods, like sunglasses and hats, to us tour-folk.
We came upon Jose, a local fisherman, who demonstrated the skill of net-casting and crab fishing. We returned to the dock and drove back through town before stopping at the pier. Along the way we spotted a half-dozen Yellow-headed Caracara sitting in an empty parking lot and nearby light posts. Try as I may I couldn’t get a decent photo of one through the bus window.