The seas continue to be rough. (I even begin to wonder about the hurricane season: some years a maverick storm comes along early and unexpected.) The seasick passengers look greener and the borderline ones are crossing over. The rest of us, although upright and eating well, still stagger and lurch around the ship and bed seems a very safe and comforting place to be. I continue to consider it my cradle - very soothing and rockaby. So the captain has decided to skip Key West, that was to have been our final stop before cruise end at Miami, and altered our course in an attempt to skirt the storm. He announced it late yesterday afternoon. I have to see where we're going on a map. Judging by the sun right now I'd say we are going east-north-east, heading for Miami in a roundabout way, and thus adding a Sea Day to the two allowed to reach Key West.We would have ween late for our booking, anyway. So far it still seems pretty rough to me, but who knows?
I digress, with the ship. But yesterday was a lovely day in Cartagena. Too hot but what do you expect? I took an excursion entitled "Highlights of Cartagena". When in doubt, I always hit the highlights as a comprehensive introduction. I was thinking of "Romancing the Stone", the movie with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, set in Columbia with key scenes in Cartagena. I saw the fortress and the wall but no crocodile. Ot guide pointed out one street as we passed by, that it was the set for a scene; he called it the Michael Douglas Street.
Such city of contrasts! The old Spanish fortress, I thick the oldest in South America, is climable, if you're young and dedicated. I am old and wiser. I stayed in the AC bus with a fellow sage and we talked while people laboured up to the ramparts in 98 F heat. (One of our group passed out in a tunnel.) But I was game for everything else, including a torture chamber in the Palace of Inquisition. It's a public building now, with other uses, including a day care. We passed from the iniquitous room into a child's classroom with bright crayon drawings on the walls. (More contrast.) Other old buildings have been set to other uses: a convent is now a hospital, another one a hotel, and so on
The bus parked at a lot outside of the Old Town and we walked into the past (though some, a few, places had AC or at least. fans, inside). I loved the old Spanish architecture with its balconies spilling roses. Why can't I have roses on my balcony in Toronto? February, that's why. We went into an old church where the bones of a saint were buried in a glass coffin under the altar. Is that morbid or reverent? We walked across a public square that could have been the set for the big party in Romancing the Stone. Back in the bus we drove around the big, expensive houses the guide wanted to show us, including the "Little Alhambra", built by the owner of the Coca Cola franchise in Colombia.
And then we drove out of that neighbourhood to a drive overlooking the bay to view the skyline of modern Cartagena. Stunning: hotels and hi-rise apartments and business buildings - such a contrast!
The guide was justifiably proud of his city and his county -"the most beautiful', he said. But I saw detritus and garbage strewn carelessly everywhere, piled up beside the road, scattered in heaps in vacant lots. Contrast.
It was a great day and I enjoyed it. But I wonder now whether I could have maintained my pace and energy and enthusiasm over the six months the cruise was originally planned to take. It's july 5 and I'll be home July 8, with mixed feelings. Contrast.