You might have thought after a very poor night's sleep I would sleep all of the two hour journey from Barranquilla to Cartagena, well you would be mistaken I was wide awake so cracked on with my book Little Bee and before you knew it Earl, me and the random Chilean lady who came with us from the hostel had arrived in Cartagena. In a previous establishment I had found a hostel which looked pretty decent however they was only one space left so we went to another round the corner which ended up being cheaper and gave us a shock when later that day we met Stu and Charlotte, who we previously met in La Paz in the small hostel we were staying. It wasn't the first people we recognised in the Colombian Caribbean Coastal town, there was also the American lady from Florida whom we met in Banos, the place not the toilet and another American girl Olive or Olivia who we played Flip Pong with in Mancora, the night I passed out at the outrageous time of 8pm.
After we got acquainted with our surroundings I was eager to head out, find a pub and watch the Man Utd game, it proved more difficult than you would think. No hostel were showing the game as their bars didn't open until after 5pm and other bars were closed, we asked for directions off several people including a random cocaine dealer, we thought he would know the streets and the places to go but that turned out unsuccessful in the end I had to settle or watching the 2-2 in a Mexican fast food restaurant. Before I go on further I should mention that my trouble with mosquitos took an even worse twist in Cartagena, things had been bad in Barranquilla and staying outside in a hammock in Santa Marta but that was mainly at night in Cartagena I was getting murdered by them, if I had twenty hands I wouldn't be able to scratch all the itches, it felt like my whole body was a bite and they were biting bites. I would have more bite marks than a Luis Suarez victim. My solution was to stay as close to fans as possible. Anyway after a brief rest and me getting ate alive by pesky insects we decided to go up the fort to see the sunset. Yeah Cartagena is surrounded by a wall it makes you feel like you are in King's Landing from the Game of Thrones. There was a slight problem to our plan though as when we got outside the sun was missing, it had already set, we assumed like most other places it would set at 6pm obviously it didn't and I had my former ginger haired work colleague Ryan Overton's voice going through my head saying 'if you assume you make an ass out of you and me.' With that we toddled off to the supermarket and had some dinner, another healthy salad for me. After a couple of hours chilling we headed out into to see who else we might meet from the rest of our travels, my money was on Sam who we had bumped into no fewer than five times without knowledge and in random locations. We decided to head to the hostel where we had first tried to lodge for the night - Mamallena nothing much was happening there though and over a couple of beers we started reminiscing of the trip so far, best place, best food and if we were to have a fifty person party of all the people we had met on our travels wo would get invited were amongst the questions. With nothing happening on Mamallena we decided to walk to the night life area of town as indicated on the map, all we found were fenced off areas of roadwork's so we decided to call it a night so we were fresh for the beach the next day.
I woke up the next morning itching everywhere, yes the mosquitos had been hammering me again through the night. I had warned Earl that if I was getting attacked again I would join him for a spoon in his mosquito net and I should have done. I guess Mosquito's look at me the same way as I look at mashed potato, cheese, bake beans, steak, cheesecake and them empanada's from Bogota. I guess in a weird sort of way I should find it quite complimentary that the animal that kills the most people in the world with their infectious bites had took a liking to me. Though I thought they might go for a more plump part of my body and not my ankles, to my knowledge we don't go round eating the ankles of cows, pigs or chickens we have the good stuff like breast or the rump, but no the mosquito's wanted ankle meat the most, as well as calf, shin, knee, hand, back, shoulder and biceps. A cold shower nullified the itching very temporarily but it was back as I was munching on the hostel's free breakfast which wasn't much and to be fair prison food is probably better than the just one slice of crusty bread and butter I got. That was never going to fill my bulging belly so on our way out to the beach I stopped by a street vender to pick up a spud ball - a spud ball are about the size of a tennis ball and consist of very lumpy / chunky mashed potato and minced meat. If you were lucky like I was the previous day you even got a hardboiled egg inside. I had a particularly fondness for them. We then headed off to the beach, we didn't have enough time to visit the popular Playa Blanca beach where Stu and Charlotte were heading for the night instead we went to the city beach called Bocagrande, as we were first arriving at the beach it reminded me a touch of Rio with its high rise buildings looking on to the main road then beach, if I woke up there and then I might of thought we were in a taxi on our way to see Tom Brennan still at the beginning of our trip, I would wonder why I had such a long beard though. As we stepped out of the taxi, the memories of Rio soon vanished. There was no golden sand, no crashing waves, no Brazilian beauties it was just your bog standard average beach. It was quite cloudy so we got limited sun as we lay their reading, Earl on Game of Thrones and me reading the tales of Little Bee. The sand was hot and the sea breeze was a warm breath against the skin so I decided to lay half in the sea and half out. After a couple of hours lay in the clouded sun I had finished my book, I swam, lazed around in the sea, dew random things in the sand but I was restless. The beach is not one of my favourite destinations because I hate sand getting everywhere I'm sure my backpacker is heavier because I'm carrying around accumulated specks of sand you can't get rid of from all the beaches I have visited and having nothing to do only makes my time at the beach worse, give me a decent book I'm content, ball games better, a group of folk to chat too and I'd be fine but Earl had his head in his book and fair play to him Game of Thrones is a page turner but it didn't help my restlessness. I hung out for as long as I could as I knew Earl said he wanted to 'brown up' before he headed home but after around forty minutes I requested we leave, the sun was hid behind clouds and loads more were arriving in so he didn't mind although he was slightly disappointed the weather was against his ambition of the day of browning up. It wasn't until we were back that we realised that even the clouded sun had worked its magic, not in a good way either. I had just got rid of my pink bits and now my back was bright shade of fuchsia and as you may or may not be aware sun burn is itchy two so not only did I have the rouble of itchy Mozzie bites but I had sunburn too, and you thing travelling is living the dream, still I'd sooner have these problems than being sat behind an office desk staring at a dull, grey and more than likely wet England.
My aim after returning from the beach was to exchange my book in one of the many hostels around Cartegena. I didn't fancy the prospect of an 18 hour coach journey with just my iPod and solitaire. With the buses of late the lights wouldn't be working and I wouldn't be able to read anyway, but it was better to have a book than not. The hostels didn't prove fruitful they either lied about not having a book exchange, had poor books or the book were in German, so I'd be faced with 18 hours of sleep and solitaire. After a dose of salad and watching the second half of Porto vs Atletico Madrid champs league game (yeah I thought it was a weird choice too until I realised there was a Colombian - Jackson Martinez playing up front for Porto) we went to San Felipe fort. The fort reminded me of Game of Thrones I imagined that the author George R R Martin could have visited this place for inspiration for one of many of the castles in his book, maybe Winterfall? We wondered around the fort seeing the views and exploring the tunnels until it was time for sunset over the Caribbean sea, which we somehow missed the previous day. We then made our way back to the hostel to pick up our bags and then we were off to the bus terminal. It took us a while to get a taxi, it wasn't because they wouldn't stop, we had stopped about five but they had all declined, even a guy who tried to sell use cocaine tried for us and failed, when we were eventually successful we could see why so many had refused as the terminal was a fair distance away and the traffic was as busy as a Next post-Christmas sale. To put it into context we set off at 18:30 to get to the terminal for the 19:30 bus, however we didn't arrive at the terminal until 19.45, it was ok as there was another bus to Medellin at 21:30 so this gave me chance to fix the craving I had for a hamburger, I'd had far too many salads lately, soon after that the bus pulled into the depot and we were on an 18 hour journey to Medellin.
So until next time stay safe and take care