Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sun Screen Can't Save You now, My Pretty.

Cartagena, my friend. How you wow us with your crashing ocean waves, twisting narrow streets, impenetrable (and centuries-old) city walls and beaming sun. Oh. That sun.

Kristin and I started our adventure yesterday at 9 am, by which time it was already 90-degrees. We enjoyed a leisurely (and relatively quiet...cabbies were still sleeping, I guess) walk to Castillo de San Filepe de Barajas, a fort built in the 17th (ish) century on top of a tall hill and once was the strongest, most impenetrable fort in South America. It was incredible (internet isn't letting me post pics. See KC'S Facebook).

The fort had seven main fortresses with different lines of defense and an intricate network of tunnels, so with purposeful dead ends. Kristin enjoyed exploring the tunnels. :)

We wrapped up the day in "old city," which is the section of Cartagena enclosed in stone walls. There are tons of museums and cathedrals to keep two girls entertained, so we elected for the Church of San Pedro Claver, which was both a museum and cathedral and features the skull of San Pedro himself at the altar. It was super cool. He was also a small dude. The museum is connected to the church and used to be where the monks and such lived (including the quarters of Pedro who lived and died there). Now it's a museum (obviously) and a neat little indoor/outdoor courtyard with the cities cutest two parrots (Pedeo and Claver).

After all that, KC and I were toast. Literally. No amount of sunscreen is any match for the Cartagena sun and heat. So we regrouped at the hostel for a few hours before heading out to dinner.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Tap Water Gamble and Beach Bum Paradise

Hola! (See? My Spanish is already improving) from Cartagena! KC and I wrapped up the night in Barranquilla with a casual dinner at Uncle Benito's, where we both enjoyed tex-mex-with-a-Caribbean-twist meals and took a gamble on a tall glass of house water. Probably a mistake, but we're going with it. After that, we hit the hay.

We departed from Barranquilla this morning on a little bus ride to the Caribbean coastal city of Cartagena, known for it's beautiful colonial architecture and beaches. We grabbed lunch at a hole-in-the-wall lunch restaurant. Kristin had a fish thing, I had rice.

After a brief walking tour of the beautiful city, the heat got to us and the beaches were calling. We spent the afternoon lazing about on the beach. We both enjoyed full body massages, salt water and people watching. :)

We're chilling back at the hostel now, killing time before dinner, and are hoping for decent weather tomorrow so we can take in more of the sites.

Okay, check in with you later!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Beans Sisters Getting Unlost: Barranquilla, Colombia

Bonjur! KC and I made it safely and uneventfully to Barranquilla, after three plane rides and 17 hours of journeying. Made our way in the dead of night in a speeding taxi with a driver with only one eye to our hotel, Barahona 72, on an unassuming street in the El Prado district.

After sleeping like logs, we enjoyed watermelon juice, scrambled eggs, papaya and a club sandwich for breakfast (weird but good) before venturing out into the now awake and lively city of Barranquilla.

If I had to compare Barranqilla to a US city, I would call it a Cincinnati. Not a huge city, no world-known attractions, overshadowed by other bigger-and-better places, but full of character, characters and micro-cool activities.

We decided to play it low key on day 1 and walked down a main artery for about an hour before landing at the Museo del Caribe (Museum of the Caribbean), which was a six-level bunker-looking square structure filled to the brim with Colombian/Caribbean information. The muesum was newly built and the exhibits were very techie/interactive. We had a great time, guided by a personal English-speaking (thank gwad) guide.

First regret of the trip: not brushing up on my Spanish. The accent is so different and thick here that it may not have made a difference, but we have found ourselves in a few different situations that would've been more efficient (but way less fun) had we been able to converse a little better.

But that won't stop the Beans Sisters. :) After the museum, KC enjoyed some carne asada (beef set lunch), which included veggies-and-bone-marrow stew, thin steak (I was going to call it a "meat thing" but KC edited), rice, french fries, salad and a creamy chickpea salad (all for $3) while I enjoyed a Clif bar. :)

THEN, WE TOOK PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION! Like it was nothing. Instead if hoofing the hour walk back, we caught the R2 bus (thanks to recommendations from our museum guide and smiling gestures from the bus metrotransport ticket lady). We felt empowered. We're just about to head out to dinner/evening activities, so I'll wrap this post up here. To be continued.  :)

Tomorrow we're taking a 10am bus to Cartegena, which will be a totally different backdrop from Barranquilla.

Weather here is so-humid-it-is-hard-to-breathe hot. My hair is huge. I actually broke a sweat on our morning walk. But we love it. It's what we've been waiting all summer for (no thanks to Polar Vortex).

Okay, that's it for now!

Picture descriptions:

1. Outside of the Museo del Caribe

2. Word wall on the 2nd level of the museo. Features words only used in Barranquilla/Caribbean spanish dialect. Personal favs are "chevero", which means "cool/nice", yuca, which means potato, but is used as an insult for people with big feet and "guayabo" whuch means "hangover"

3. Kitten sitting under KC's chair at lunch.