Friday (Viernes) 6th August, 2010
Day 511

Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena, Colombia
Miles: 50,853
N 05.64853°
W 73.51888°

Today we drove to Cartagena, the port from where we will ship back to Panama, and checked into a hotel. Our South American journey is over.

Much of the drive today was along the Caribbean coast. One stretch of the road, east of the port city of Baranquilla, was along a thin strip of land with the Caribbean on the right and a salt lagoon on the left. This strip was dotted with poor villages in which some of the housing was built on poles out over the lagoon.

Late in the morning we found a small side track off the highway and pulled in. To our surprise this track was actually the entrance to a small National Park and there was a gate keeper come guard who appeared out of what we thought was a derelict building. He opened the chain across the gate for us and invited us in. After a short walk out to the ocean and a bit of a look around I decided that this was a good place to do some work on the vehicle. So out with the angle grinder and some cutting blades and after about an hour, a large chunk of the rear carrier, and the propane bottle we bought in Argentina had been removed. The vehicle was now 1/2 a meter shorter. The guard was delighted to take ownership of the discarded metal from the carrier and our now unwanted (by us) propane bottle. As it turned out the guard had a small propane cooker in his building but no propane for it. I showed him how to connect the bottle and got the stove going for him. He was delighted - so were we. We had been puzzling for some days how to dispose of a propane bottle that was not entirely empty.

The route to Cartagena required that we drive through Baranquilla. This turned out to be a real experience. It is a large city with a population of over a million people, the city streets are in bad repair, the traffic chaotic, there is no bypass and the only map we had was our free GPS map of Colombia and it only knew about a handful of the streets. None the less we managed to find our way with only a small number of near misses.

West of Baranquilla we drove through the tail end of a tropical storm, and while we had a few minutes of very heavy rain the volume of water running over the ground made it clear that the storm had lasted much longer than we had experienced.


The Cartagena Plaza hotel. After checking in to the Cartagena Plaza we spent some time checking out other hotels on the peninsula called Boca Grande. None that we could find offered secured parking for a vehicle the size of the Tiger. The reason we looked around for other options is that the plaza is not great. The first room we got had no hot water (actually no water in the hot water faucet at all) and the towel rack fell off the wall at the first touch. Also the wifi service is not working anywhere in the hotel.