The old & the new in Cartagena

Cartagena sits on the northern coast of Colombia in the steamy heat of the Caribbean. A city of over a million, it presents the different faces of the country.

From the monastery overlooking the city the sound of music systems blare up through the humidity and the modern apartment blocks & hotels stretch up to try to escape the thick, steamy heat.

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Alongside the modern stands the past. The Spaniards built the fort when they arrived to protect their interests in the whole of South America.

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Providing essential protection ever since Colombia arrived in the Indies, the fort stands with its huge thick walls solidly guarding the harbour from all attackers. It was built with native & slave labour. Local tourists come to explore its turrets & tunnels & walkways, hawkers hawk conch shells & models of sailing ships, buskers busk Beatles’ tunes. In its shadows families support baseball teams to the smell of African food & reggae rhythms.

The old town within the protection of the old walls consists of narrow streets & squares with elegant colonial houses, churches & administrative buildings.

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In the shadows of these proud buildings the locals live their lives, mostly servicing the Colombian visitors, the foreign tourists & the  lines of well heeled American ants that are unloaded from the multi layered cruise ships and stretch in thin lines into the colourful streets. Cafes, classy boutiques & jewellery shops, churches, goverment buildings, supermarkets, vendors selling tacky tourist tat share the paved streets in elegant buildings facing their public in the wonderful colours of an artist,’s palette.  Buskers, posers, hawkers & touts are dressed to coordinate & blend with whichever buildings are around their patch.

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