15 February 2011 | Panama
14 February 2011 | Panama
15 November 2010 | Portobello
26 October 2010 | West Lemmons
26 October 2010 | San Blas
14 July 2010 | Spanish Waters
15 June 2010 | Spanish Waters
15 June 2010 | Spanish Waters
19 May 2010 | Ensenada Honda
15 May 2010 | Archipelago Culebra
11 May 2010 | Ensenada Honda
Bocas del Toro
15 February 2011 | Panama
BOCAS DEL TORO
On the 18th January 2011 we decided to take advantage of a weather window and set off for Bocas Del Toro ( 151nm). This turned out, for Talacam, to be 2 nights out and motoring most of the way. Not much wind but a wonderfully calm sea and a full silvery moon to light the way. Passat made in the last light the day before.We arrived early in the morning of the 20th and anchored off Bocas Town on Isla Colon and after catching up on some rest were ready to go to shore and explore.
The islands of Bocas del Toro are the essence of Caribbean Panama. They are located in the extreme western part of the country, only 40 kilometers from the Republic of Costa Rica. This archipelago has the perfect combination of nature and historical and cultural traditions, with a variety of aquatic species, coral reefs, mangroves, tropical forest, beaches with crystal clear water, undisturbed jungles with all the flora and fauna you can imagine. The Bocas del Toro Archipelago consists of nine islands, 52 keys and some 200 tiny islets. The largest and most developed island is Colón Island, where the capital of the province, the town of Bocas del Toro ( Bocas Town ), is located. The total population of the archipelago is around 9000 people, of whom roughly half live in the town of Bocas del Toro. There are many very reasonable hotels and hostels catering for backpackers and surfers and a meal can be had for a few dollars. I am very surprised at the number of back packing tourists in town, young and old. There are many boat trips to choose from to explore the area on the sheltered lagoon side, and we are seriously thinking of making one of these trips to the mainland if time allows. There's a small airport on Isla Colon with flights daily to and from Panama City. A vehicle ferry comes from the mainland town of Almirante five mornings a week and water taxis holding up to twenty-five passengers travel to and from Almirante and the nearby town of Changuinola many times a day. Though not large by any means, Bocas town has a hospital, several Internet Cafes, numerous hotels and restaurants, pharmacy, hardware shops, a bank and one ATM machine and a butchery. There are many stores but no grand supermarkets. Still, most anything you need can be found. The Gourmet store also stocks many hard-to-find foods and sundries. All in all an interesting little place to wander around. We have played a few games of pool and done internet at The Black Olive Bar and Restaurant and had more than one beer at the popular RipTide, a floating bar and restaurant. There are choices, choices and more choices.
Our visit to Red Frog Marina on the island of Bastimentos for a fund raising party was great fun. Live music and a juggling act all to raise money for a Kuna family whose home was destroyed by fire. There are many great walks, one of which started off walking along the beach and through the jungle in search of red frogs and sloths and snakes. Not too successful this walk but the following one took us up into the rain forest and we were successful in the quest for two of the three. The first sloth was in a tree right next to the dirt road and we got some good photos after Bob had prodded it with a stick to raise it from its sleep. The Bastimentos Sky walk revealed many of the tiny red frogs hidden in the damp leaf litter in the forest, this of course, after we knew where to find them. Their poison was used for poison darts/arrows in the dark past. On the way back the sloth was still in his same sleeping position and sorry to say we had to disturb him again. After this 4 hour walk we deservedly stopped for a few cold beers and then back towards the boat. We passed the Marina’s resident sloth perched in a tree on the way through to the dingy. Debbie was very happy to have sighted 2 sloths in one day. Still looking to sight a boa! The following day we had a farewell dinner on our friend Viktor’s boat (hamburger and Vossie’s sort after chips). Viktor had to go back to California for a while but he will be back in the not too distant future. We had heard that Star Fish bay at Boca del Drago was a must so the next day sailed off to spend a few days there. Confirm it was worth the visit. It didn’t take us long to get to shore to walk the beach and swim in the clear water and literally see red starfish dotted around in the shallow water. Lots of water taxis bringing tourists daily but from 4 pm it was wonderfully quiet and deserted and it’s at this time that the huge black pig has his turn to run along the beach with the dogs. Yep…. A pig! And it must be a daily occurance as it has been reported by other cruisers anchored off this beach. We also took a dingy ride around to the next little bay to show Bob and Debbie the Del Drago restaurant and surrounds as we had previously been there by bus on a rainy day. Could have stayed longer at Starfish bay but we sailed back to Bocas town to join in the SuperBowl celebrations and this time anchored off the Bocas Marina after the small disaster of fishing line fouling the prop. It was a fun evening at the Calypso restaurant which is owned by two S.A guys who have made it a great success. Because the weather has been kind to us since we have been in this area and the particular day chosen had very light winds, it was decided we would go out on Passat and have a spinnaker party. We took Talacam’s spinnaker as well and tried out both sails for the first time, each for a few hours. If you watched very carefully there was confirmation that we did move under sail. But like I said it was a party with friends, albeit with beer only and a very good one. Saturday saw a swop meet at the Calypso bar between 4 and 5 pm and naturally we stayed for happy hour 5 to 6 and beyond. Perhaps not such a good idea to be anchored so close to the temptations of Calypso. By the way, if anyone wonders what we do on the days in between these fun filled times………… we have take it very easy for a day or two and recuperate sufficiently to take up where we left off……………
The last few days I have had the good fortune to be staying in the apartment of a friend while she has gone to the mainland of Panama and thus have been able to bring the blog up to date thus far. I will have to add a part two later as we are still cruising in this area for a while and hopefully will have a lot more to add .
Portobello - Colon
14 February 2011 | Panama
Mid November 2010 to mid January 2011
This period of time was spent moving between Portobello and Colon.
Being the “wet season” there has been no problem during this period keeping water tanks on the boat full but it puts a damper on getting off the boat and wandering around the town or catching buses. It was also a tragic time for many people in Panama and especially in Portobello as lives and property were lost in serious landslides. Both the community and cruisers pulled together to assist in any way possible.
Some cruisers, including Vossie, have also spent a lot of time helping Dennis out up at Capt Jacks with organizing new tables and seating, made from some very heavy thick wooden slabs and the task of getting them up the stairs and into position to expand the entertainment area . Sharing tools, skills and workmanship is very thirsty work!!! But fun….
We set off on the 29th November for the port of Colon which is the Caribbean entrance to the Panama Canal. We anchored at Club Nautico which turned out to be an absolute nightmare of an anchorage. For 2 weeks we hardly slept a full night what with tugs and ferries constantly going by causing uncomfortable wakes and boats dragging, tugs breaking loose from mooring buoys. Dreadful………………. A small anchorage which could take 4 or five boats comfortably trying to accommodate double that number. Definitely not a recommended anchorage for any length of stay.
The cruise ship harbor was nearby and watching the cruise ships passing close to our boats provided some excitement and also watching the comings and goings of the container terminal. Colon is a large and an extremely busy port. Colon is also a very dangerous city where even the shortest distance is done in a taxi. We visited a few shopping centers and hardware shops outside the city center which were well stocked and had a police presence to keep us safe. The city itself is very poor and many abandoned buildings and very unsafe.
While in Colon we booked to haul out at Shelter Bay Marina to see to our bottom paint and waterline ( which had disappeared with all the additional weight loaded in St Maarten) . On the 13th December we hauled out and Vossie started work on cleaning the hull and raising the waterline. Difficult task with rain and more rain and having to fit the paint work into the few days when it was dry. Despite the walking distance from the yard area to the showers and laundry it was a pleasant experience and an organized marina set in a Nature Reserve close to the Panama Canal. They have a free shuttle bus in the morning to the Quatro Altos shopping center, outside Colon, for the marina customer’s convenience. I took advantage of this a few mornings and managed to catch sight of some wild Toucan birds and a sloth on the way in. I heard that a boa constrictor was seen on the road on another day. There were also many howler monkeys which make an almighty noise. Pity there was no time to spend walking through the jungle.
We splashed Talacam on the 24thDecember looking all bright and beautiful and headed directly back to Portobello . Although a bit rough leaving Colon port, it was a good trip to Portobello. What a pleasure being in a quiet anchorage where one can get a good night’s rest most of the time. A quiet Xmas was spent on Talacam with Bob and Debbie from “Passat” and Pat from “if Knot Why Knot”. And a not so quiet New year’s eve was celebrated at Capt Jack’s and a good time was had by all. The following day Vossie had an early start, going up to Capt Jacks to organise a pig on the spit for the afternoon meal. This pig was done to perfection and those cruisers who had recovered sufficiently from the revelry the night before had a feast. We needed a few days to recover from all this activity!
On the 5th January we were scheduled to be line handlers for friends transiting the Panama Canal in their catamaran “ Pacific Bliss”, Colin, Liz, Zinnia and Cosmo. What better birthday gift for Vossie! So with great excitement the Talacams and the Passats caught the bus to Colon to board Pacific Bliss. We waited in The Flats for the advisor to come aboard at about 3.00pm and headed towards the first Gatun lock. When time was right to approach the first lock we rafted up to the other Catamaran going through with us and motored in behind a container ship and a tug. Nervous excitement all around and time to concentrate as the locks start filling with water to raise us up from sea level to the level of the Gatun lake. Vossie and Bob shared the line handling on the bow and Liz handled the stern. Safely negotiated the 3 locks to Gatun Lake where, after separating from our partner cat, we both spent the night on a huge buoy. Everybody was very happy that all had gone smoothly, so a few beers to celebrate and wonderful meal and to bed, looking forward to the next day. At 6.30am new advisors were dropped off on the respective yachts. I must mention that both of our advisors were really wonderful, helpful guys and a pleasure to work with. We motored through the manmade Gatun lake ( 23 miles ) towards the next set of locks. It was a beautiful sunny day, very hot and we started passing the big ships that were heading from the Pacific side to the Atlantic side. We also passed many little islands that are actually the tops of the former jungle hills before the area was flooded. We were hoping to spot some crocs in the lake but they were all in hiding. About five hours later we arrived at the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks and it was raft up time again. We were very fortunate in that only the 2 catamarans were doing the transit, not having to share with a container ship. A lot easier and less nerve wracking. At the entrance to the Miraflores locks everyone was out on deck waving at the cameras as the families abroad watched the transit live. Again safely through the locks and great joy on entering the Pacific waters and anchoring in Panama City.
A big thank you to Colin and Liz and their children on Pacific Bliss for allowing us to share in the adventure and for their hospitality and for making Vossie’s birthday a memorable one.
It was a happy foursome that made their way back from Panama City to Portobello by bus arriving back to find our boats safe and sound.
15 November 2010 | Portobello
Saturday 13th November , 2010
Our last stop in the San Blas was the islands of Chichime. We spent a few days exploring the snorkel sites and met up with friends that were in Coco Banderos with us. There was also a small bar on the island but this one we didn't visit, wonder of wonders!. There was a yellow trimaran anchored close to us though, that obviously partied hard of an evening and decided it would be fun to let loose with a few flares in the anchorage.... not up, but through the boats. One missed our bow by a very close margin. Needless to say that there were a few of us cruisers who did not think this behavior was very professional.
We left Chichime on the 29th October destination Isla Linton. Mostly the trip went well until the afternoon when the seas chopped up a little with wind on the nose and making headway slowed so we decided to stop overnight in Green Turtle Bay, which turned out to be much smaller than anticipated and a roller coaster ride. Here we spent a sleepless night as it was very uncomfortable and we couldn't wait to get going in the morning. Upped anchor early and sailed to Isla Linton ( 30th ), a short trip. On the way we went through a squall which lasted quite a while, lots of rain and no visibility but fortunately the sun peeked out just as we were making our way to the entrance so the stress level evened out somewhat.
Isla Linton was a really lovely protected anchorage, nestled between the island and the mainland and with plenty of space. Isla Linton itself is uninhabited except for some monkeys which we hear are fairly tame but get a little upset when they see you leaving the island and could bite, so we decided we would just take photos from the dinghy. Rather safe than sorry! We are now on mainland Panama and the vegetation has changed to jungle. Most homes and villages are built on the waters edge and there is a road link to Colon by bus or taxi. We can hear howler monkeys and there is lots of wild life and bird life. Total contrast to the San Blas islands but a change is as good as a holiday, I guess.
On shore was a restaurant/bar, owned by Hans and a few afternoons were spent here playing Mexican Train dominoes or stopping for a few beers and a meal after a walkabout. We walked through the villages of Puerto Lindo and Garrote which are typical fishing villages with dogs, chickens, ducks and pigs. The population is now more West Indian and although Spanish is still spoken, English is heard a lot more. We visited Isla Grande ( next door island ) by dinghy and being Independence holidays in Panama found it very festive with everyone set to enjoy their BBQ and beach day . Even though the day started out rainy it cleared up and a good day was had by all the visitors. Unfortunately the weather turned nasty for a few days with swell entering the bay and having us boat bound and rolling. When we eventually decided to try a shore visit we had a right time trying to get off and then back into the dinghy later. However nothing much deters the four us from partaking of liquid refreshment. We sat in Han's place with some other brave, wet cruisers and enjoyed our beers while watching the waves break over into the restaurant area from a safe distance.
Tuesday 9th November was the day picked to make a run for Portobello as the sea was supposedly calming down but allow me to add that the swell was a good 8-10ft. We left at 10.45am and arrived in Portobello at 2.30pm, 11.5 nm trip and had a current of 2-2.5 knots against us. I will post pictures taken by Passat who were ahead of us. Very thankful to arrive in a calm anchorage and have a peaceful rest.
A lot more rain on this side of the world, seas not so calm and weather windows need to be picked before moving on. Still small villages built along the waters edge and the rest of the mainland with thick growth reminiscent of jungle. Very pretty though. Went into Sabanitas town yesterday on an old school bus (1 hours, local transport ) to check out the supermarket which was quite an exciting ride. The Reys supermarket was huge for us as we have been buying out of huts for the last few months..... but better is yet to come as we get to Colon area. There was a parade on the go as it was yet another holiday and after shopping ( 1.00pm )we came out to catch the bus back. While we were looking around a taxi person came to tell us we needed to catch a taxi back as the next bus to Portobello was at 6.30pm because of the holiday. This would cost us only $ 20.00 for the 5 of us. ( the bus was $ 1.30 each ) Needless to say, even though we were concerned, we were not trusting of the taxi man which was a good thing as a bus did indeed come along about 20 minutes later. Us "gringos" are such prime targets in this neck of the woods!
We have walked through the town, found a few Chinese supermarkets with the necessary supplies, stores selling tourist bits and pieces and have visited Capt. Jacks on the hill where there is wireless internet at $ 3.00 all day, and he runs a restaurant and bar. He is quite organized catering to the needs of cruisers. A visit to the San Jeronimo Fort was also very interesting ( There is another to be explored ). The Church of San Felipe de Portobello is home to the Black Christ of Portobello, a wooden statue of Jesus of Nazareth. Once a year the devout make a pilgrimage to the holy shrine, sometimes walking on their knees from as far away as Costa Rica to show their devotion. The Festival of the Black Christ is celebrated October 21st every year.
Our plan is to get a bus to Panama city next week and I will keep you updated.
26 October 2010 | West Lemmons
SAN BLAS 23rd September to 28th October 2010
These islands are picture postcard material. Islands covered in palm trees, white coral sand and beautiful clear waters with amazing coral reefs to snorkel. An abundance of fish, rays, and sharks. Home to the Kuna Indians who effectively control this quarter of Panama. They have preserved their tradition and culture for the most part except for a few villages, Nargana being an example. They are peaceful people and live life simply. The women row in their ulu's ( dugout canoes )to sell their molas, mostly hand sewn. A mola is part of the Kuna Yala women's traditional dress, a blouse with two reverse appliqued panels front and back. The panels have between two to five layers of cloth with different colours being cut away and embroidered to form the patterns. There were some excellent traditional designs and also some more modern designs catering to the tourists. Mostly Spanish spoken though the men often had a smattering of English, some having been educated and/or have worked in Panama city. The women on the islands all wore traditional dress with gold nose rings, gold earrings, headscarves, patterned wrapped skirts, arm and legs beads. I have bought quite a few.
And the men are out early in the morning fishing and then come past the boats to sell their catch. It seems that cell phones and computers are making their way in even though there is no electricity on the outer islands, thus many a cell phone has been brought to us in the morning to charge batteries.
Our time in Coco Banderos was spent snorkeling on the various reefs, happy hours on the beach around a big bonfire, night snorkeling for Vossie( I gave that one a miss due to shark feeding time.) and social evenings with friends. In fact knowing so many people in that anchorage we had a torrid social life.
A few trips in the dingy to Nargana ( 4 miles away )to top up fresh veg and beers when the weather was good and the supply boats from Columbia and Panama had come in. No supply boat equates to no veges. After 2 weeks of this hard life it was time to move on to Nargana for a few days to buy some diesel so we upped anchor and motored to Nargana and anchored near the end of the small runway which is serviced by Air Panama light aircraft. The small aircraft and boats is the only access between the cities and the islands as there are no roads into this area. It was also unfortunate that there was no garbage control here and the anchorage was the garbage dump which spoilt the scene a little. We did a trip up the Rio Diablo by dinghy. There was a constant stream of ulus going up the river to fetch fresh water or for families to go and have a fresh water swim. This was an interesting outing and you were transported from the sea into the jungle of the Panama mainland as you went further up the river.
Having got our much needed diesel we moved on to Green Island a few hours away. We had just anchored when an ulu arrived to sell some seafood. This ulu had a makeshift mast and sail and he got too close to our wind genny and next thing there was much shuddering at the back and we realized that his mast had touched the wind genny and snapped off one of the blades. Being unbalanced is what caused all the shuddering at the back of the boat. Repalcing this blade is going to be a problem. Not happy chappies on Talacam!!! There was a lot a cursing and sending them on their way. We are 4 boats travelling together at the moment and in sympathy no-one would buy their fish. Eventually they were sent back to us to deal with Vossie who managed to get a very good deal on their catch in repayment for the damage caused. Crab, lobster and a big fish from the grouper family. Spent the rest of the day cleaning and preparing all this food. Another feast to be had by all.
The snorkeling was not really that good here but we did explore and swim and it was pretty.
13th October we moved onto the East Hollandaise Cays to the "swimming pool" anchorage. Anchored in 10 foot of water, 4-5 ft under the keel. Totally protected by reef and islands this was a calm, beautiful anchorage with crystal water and aptly named. Sitting on the side of the boat you could see the starfish on the bottom and the rays and fish swimming past. Many reefs to snorkel on. We did a lot a trips in the dingy to find the reefs to snorkel on and to have a look at the wreck of a yacht up on the reef. It was during one of these snorkel trips that we spotted our first shark sleeping on the bottom under a coral head. Granted it was a nurse shark , a large one, but nevertheless there was a lot a back peddling to put some distance between it and us. The snorkeling was really great here! Sundowner time every evening had us in the cockpit watching the rays and fish leaping out of the water . What a magnificent sight!
On rainy days we spent time playing cards or Mexican train dominoes....great fun. And I also let Vossie loose with the graders to cut my hair as it was getting too long. Well now it is short, very short!! No problemo.....it will grow again.
19th October we moved onto the East Lemmon Cays and spent 2 nights. Took the dingy to check out the West Lemmon's anchorage and found a small beach bar with internet so no guessing as to where we are going next. Soonest!! Only excitement here was Passat catching a nurse shark at about one in the morning as he had a fish hanging on a hook at the back of the boat for night fishing. Debbie took a photo so will hopefully post that pic when we have a better connection. Just before leaving we bought another good sized grouper ( $10.00 ) and veges and coke from the vege boat that came around. Well stocked again we lifted anchor and onto West Lemmon Cays. Tricky entrance, less than a foot under the keel in some places and Vossie up front pointing to coral heads. Eventually anchored after some kind yachtie showed us the last channel to enter safely and anchor. All of the anchorages entail reef dodging but I suppose good practice for the Pacific.
Good snorkeling here and of course the bar and internet. Almost back to civilization. This last Sunday gathered at the bar to play Mexican train again, got home late but great fun had by all. Monday we put the 18hp motor on for a dingy trip to Porvenir, about 3 miles away, to check in and out of the San Blas and into Panama. Cost of this paperwork was $ 263.50 and no .50 cents change so effectively $ 264.00, the main cost being for the one year cruising permit for Panama. After this session No cold beers to drown one's sorrows as it is now prohibited to sell beer in San Blas, however rum and whisky seem to be no problem. Very odd reasoning by the Congresso who are the law in this area. But for those of you who know us well, we always have the ever present little cooler with our stock for the journey. Just as we arrived back to the anchorage an arriving boat went hard aground on a sand bank and no amount of maneuvering could get it off, even with the help of many yachties in their dingys . They eventually got off some 24 hours later after some Kuna boys dug a trench for them and the tide rose enough.
Tomorrow we move to Chichime where we will spend 2 nights and then say goodbye to San Blas and move to explore the islands on the Panama side.
Cartegena to San Blas
26 October 2010 | San Blas
CARTEGENA TO SAN BLAS
We left Cartegena on the 11th September bound for Cholon. After entering through a narrow, shallow entrance we found that the anchorage was large, protected and quite lovely. It wasn't too long before the boat vendors started coming by with jewellery, lobster and fish and seldom take no for an answer. In all fairness though, once you accepted something they kind of left you alone.
Happy hour was on an old shrimping boat called "Manatee". Getting on board was up a ladder on the side of the boat, climb over the side ( no ladylike moves in this exercise ) onto the big deck where we all gathered with other cruisers in the anchorage bringing our books for exchange at the same time.
The water here was cleaner than Cartegena but still not good enough for snorkeling but we took some walks through old plantations and explored . A trip in the dinghy to Baru, the closest village, took us through narrow channels in the mangroves which was quite spectacular. Naturally we have to find a store that has cold refreshments and then wandered the dirt roads between the homes and did some people watching. We spent a week here waiting for our friend Carolina who had gone to Bogota to do some business. On her return we had a birthday celebration for her eldest son, Xavier, who turned 16. We had a braai and plenty of Aguadente. Good stuff!
We left Cholon on the 19th September for the island of Rosario ( still Columbian waters ), a short trip and anchored on the south side. Minor mishap on the rocks when entering but went onto anchor only to be told this was not a safe anchorage overnight if bad weather came so.... up anchor off to the north side which turned out to be a far better anchorage. Lovely clear water. Bought lobster which were bigger than what we had seen in Cholon. Had a good night and the next day walked across the island to visit the bird park. Entry was free as this is the pet project of a gentleman who funds this himself and whose aim is to have every species of bird in his park. This was truly amazing and his collection at this point is unbelievable. We spent a few hours here. The place is obviously very well organized with a kitchen for the different meals required by the different species and a medical room to treat sick birds. A very interesting outing and highly recommended for anyone visiting Rosario.
21st September we set off for the San Blas, destination Coco Banderos Cays, 181nm. The weather was good, seas flat but that generally means little wind and so motored most of the way. After 2 nights out we were in sight of the islands and very excited to see the island paradise much talked about.
Vossie caught a big tuna and called ahead to friends we had met in Curacao who were already in anchorage, telling them to have the BBQ fire on the island ready to go as there was going to be a fish braai. Even after all the boats in the anchorage shared this fish we still had plenty left over to turn into fish cakes!
10 September 2010
CARTAGENA 1ST TO 10TH SEPTEMBER
Our time in Cartagena, Columbia has been very enjoyable, although short. We are desperately trying to brush up on the Spanish as communication is important in a foreign country and as Debbie says, we feel a little intimidated by not being able to speak fluently. I suspect that by the end of our trip thru this area we will be talking like locals.
We are anchored off Club Nautico, which is undergoing construction, in the suburb of Manga. The water is muddy brown and encourages healthy barnacle growth. Lots of floating debris and floating grass islands. We have had to get our hull and propeller cleaned before departing after only 10 days in the anchorage!
The highlight in Cartagena is, in my opinion, the Old walled City, known as Centro. It is European Spanish beautiful and the photos I post will give a better idea. Narrow streets, overhanging balconies decorated with trailing plants and bougainvillas. The architecture is stunning , very romantic and eye catching with the earthy colours mixed in with the bright blues, orange and reds. Solid large old wooden doors with smaller doors inset. Old churches, sculptures ( by El Gordo ) and many Plazas and parks dotted around the old city where everyone hangs out in the shade.
Street vendors selling everything from fresh fruit beautifully presented in little cups to virtually anything you can think of. Also many boutiques both international and Columbian selling leather goods, artifacts and emeralds and more emeralds ( very expensive ).
On one of our walks through the old City the men were approached by a suave gent who was offering an unbelievable rate of exchange pesos for dollars. Very tempted the men begin to negotiate, although warily. This went on for some time and eventually the money began to change hands, again with everyone watching carefully. Just as the dollars were going to be handed over, Vossie caught the slight of hand trick and snatched back his $ 100 dollar note, whereupon the trickster turned on his heels and hot footed down one of the streets having been caught out. A small crowd had gathered during all of this and all were warning not to have anything to do with these banditos ( would have been more helpful before the fact ). Well, lesson learnt and we were ready the next time .
We visited 2 very interesting museums in the Old City. The Museum of the Spanish Inquisition being the first one. The priests of the Catholic church invented very simple, deadly and efficient machines of torture to inflict pain and thus get the required confessions. Undoubtedly there were many sinners and guilty people in this period of history. For example, there was a list of questions being asked during the torture session to determine if one was a witch, which undoubtedly one was, after days, if not weeks of torture . Unbelievably barbaric customs and one must consider that this was only about two hundred years ago.
The second was the Gold Museum which was very interesting. The history of the various groups of peoples which populated Columbia and their skills in the manufacturing of gold jewellery and other adornment for the rich and powerful and in the agricultural field, managing the irrigation of the fertile growing region when the yearly flooding of the rivers would otherwise have caused devastation to the area. The history is too much for me to elaborate on here in this blog but would make for very interesting research.
Food is really a good deal here. The typical local meal " la corriente or sopa y seco" consists of a good bowl of soup, a fruit juice and a plate of rice, beans, veg, salad and either a piece of meat ( carne ), chicken ( pollo) or fish ( pesca ) The cost of this hearty meal ranges between $4.00 to $6.00 depending on the restaurant.
We have been using the taxis here quite often and at a very reasonable rate, typically 5000 pesos, about $3.00. There are also motor bikes taking one passenger or a bicycle with a 2 wheeled cart behind ( similar to our rickshaw guys in SA). Everyone needs to make a living.
In conclusion, a very vibrant and colourful city and we are happy with our decision to have spent some time here.