Entry 9, March 14, 2011, 2:35pm (ship time)
I have just set foot upon my third continent. Last time the boat was in Cartegena I didn't get off, as it was only my first full day and I was a bit busy. This week, though, I'm much less stressed out about "Where do I go?!? Which lifeboat is mine?!? When can I eat?!? Wait, where's my room?!?"
Which is why I am now sitting in a small port authority park with decent internet for the first time in a week, enjoying the shade and trying to bend my head around the fact that I'm in South America (by the way, I have yet to encounter a single internet café that plays well with google Chrome -- something worth noting if you're headed overseas anytime soon).
Later -- 9:24pm (ship time)
Had a good time in Cartagena. I am glad that I didn't go into the city by myself, at least this first time. Next week I want to go see the fortress, and that's probably something I can do myself now that I know where to go.
If you ever find yourself in Cartagena, this is what I recommend. Follow the sidewalk out of the port terminal, as the taxi drivers inside the terminal will charge you $20 for what the guys outside will charge $5. Apparently you have to have a special license to get into the terminal parking lot. We grabbed one literally right outside the gate who took us to the Old City for $5 (useful phrases to know: "Cuanto cuesta?" how much does it cost? and "Ciudad Vieja" the old city). After a fairly frantic ride (including a two-way traffic circle; yes, it IS as dangerous as it sounds) you'll probably get dropped off at a large stone gateway with a clocktower on top. This is the entry to the old city, a maze of old stone and plaster buildings. Horse-drawn carriages circle around the streets, mixing with tourists and cops on motorbikes. I didn't get to spend as much time there as I would have liked, but I still got a bit lost at least once. There was a pretty active night scene considering that it was a Monday. When you need to get back to the ship, "Barco Cruisero" is a useful phrase to know.