Cartagena: Within the Walled City

Our last night we stayed in the walled city.

Inside the walled city

Inside the walled city

Walking through the city

Walking through the city

 We had quite an adventure trying to find dinner that night.  After checking into our hotel we loaded the kids up in the stroller and walked outside the walls to what looked like a promising restaurant on TripAdvisor.  We walked up and down the dark street, navigating piles of trash along the broken up pieces of sidewalk.  Cartagena wasn’t unlike most other cities we’d visited in South America in that respect.  We finally gave up locating the restaurant and headed back to the walled city.  We thought we’d have an easier time finding a good eatery there, but it also proved challenging.  Eventually, we stumbled upon a tiny local, over-decorated and somewhat dusty Colombian restaurant.  The food was decent, and at that point we didn’t really care too much anyways!  It was bedtime already for the kids, so we ordered some coconut rice as soon as we sat down in our chairs and they started chowing down.  Coconut rice was the kids favorite Colombian treat (after Arepas, of course).  It was browned and sweet, cooked in coconut water, and went great with the local whole fried fish they served up in Cartagena.  Dinner was long and a little painful with two very sleepy toddlers, but we survived!  The next morning we got an early start.  The breakfast at the hotel was wonderful and the kids loved all the fresh juices.  After that, we started out on a walk around the Walled City.

Walking through the city

Walking through the city

At the edge of the city

At the edge of the city

The lookouts were really fun to see.  Took us a while to find an empty one!  Popular place!

Hola!

Hola!

Hanging out in the sun

Hanging out in the sun

 From the opening you could see the Caribbean, just across the road.  It was hot, hot, hot, by this time.  We were glad for a little shade.

Me and my girl

Me and my girl

In the lookout

In the lookout

Enjoying Cartagena

Enjoying Cartagena

 We’d promised the kids another ice cream popsicle, so we headed back to the center of the city.

Cliff loves "caballos"

Cliff loves “caballos”

At the city's center

Livi and daddy

Buying some fresh squeezed orange juice

Buying some fresh squeezed orange juice

Enjoying the city

Enjoying the city

 While we were waiting for it to open, we grabbed some iced coffees for us adults at a delicious local coffee shop.

Being "patient" in the coffee shop

Being “patient” in the coffee shop

Iced Colombian coffee!

Iced Colombian coffee!

 The kids were good, with the promise of ice cream looming, and soon they were holding their fruity ice cream pops.

La Paletteria

La Paletteria

Delicious ice cream popsicles

Delicious ice cream popsicles

Happy kids

Happy kids

 It was almost time for us to leave this beautiful place, but we had one more fun thing planned….the hotel pool.

Splish-splash!

Splish-splash!

Fun times!

Fun times!

 Just seconds after this picture, Cliff plummeted into the water.  He’s a tough boy though, and was laughing it off just a few minutes later.

Fun with daddy

Fun with daddy

 Olivia was super excited to get to use her “eye-gols” again.  Those kids crack me up sometimes.  It was a great end to our time in Colombia.

Beautiful warm people and bright colors

Beautiful warm people and bright colors

We’d really enjoyed this country!

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Casco Viejo: beauty in crumbling walls

For part one of our family’s adventure in Panama City, click here. For part two, here.

The sun was just peaking over the tall skyscrapers as we walked along the damp streets of Casco Viejo, dodging puddles from the early morning rain.

beautiful old bell tower

beautiful old bell tower

Most the shops and buildings were still closed up, but a few showed signs of life. We made a rough circle around the town and noticed one shop was still closed, despite the posted sign listing its hours from 10-6. It was nearly 11 by then. No one seemed in a rush there, though.

Cathedral doors

Cathedral doors

That was okay for us. We were enjoying the beautiful old buildings and soaking in a bit of the culture.

peeling paint

peeling paint

Casco Viejo, means “Old Quarters” in Spanish. This part of Panama City was built in 1673, after pirates all but destroyed the original city in 1671. Many of the old crumbling buildings have been restored and now quite a few nice restaurants, artesian shops and hotels are popping up.

a blend of the new and old

a blend of the new and the old

A lot of the buildings were in the process of being restored as we walked the streets.

There’s a definite Caribbean flair to the art, clothing and demeanor here in Panama.

Flower wall mural

Flower wall mural

Especially when compared to Lima, Peru. Most people in Lima seem to wear black or dark clothing. In Panama, the colors of the clothing are as bright as the land surrounding it. The art, too, is bright and bold. The people on the streets seem generally happy, though perhaps somewhat fatigued by life.

Bright buildings

Bright buildings

In Lima, we get smiles for the kids, but if you’re out alone don’t expect one. I still smile at people on the street in Peru, and then remember how out of place that is when I receive a puzzled stare in return. Back to Panama…

We were excited to get a chance to see the historical museum and even had a guide to point out the most interesting facts of Panama’s long history (in Spanish of course – John helped translate what I couldn’t catch). It was surprising to us to note that if Panamanians don’t like a part of their history, they just leave it out. Like the dictator president they had in the 1970’s, who just doesn’t appear on the list. Or the Spanish Conquest, where the country lost much of their gold supply, which is basically overlooked completely.

We had lunch in a cute little cafe in the town center.

Lunch in Casco Viejo

Lunch in Casco Viejo

You had just one choice to make: chicken, fish or pork. The rest was a set menu. Very good I might add. The kids must have been craving veggies because Olivia nearly polished off a whole bowl of calabaza (squash) soup and Cliff ate half the green salad by himself!

There were a lot of stray cats and dogs in the area, which fascinated the kids and made me a bit nervous.

This kid loves cats and dogs!

This kid loves cats and dogs!

At one point Cliff enjoyed breaking up a group of pigeons and chasing them around. They find entertainment everywhere!

Chasing pigeons

Chasing pigeons

As we walked down one street we heard a wailing toddler. I looked up and inside what had earlier appeared to be an abandoned apartment building was actually someone’s home. On each balcony was a child, one who was clearly upset about something. It’s been sad to see the living conditions of the locals here. More so because there doesn’t seem to be much hope for improvement.

morning walk

morning walk

Even as people invest into businesses and open shops, the poor still continue in their poverty. In Casco Viejo the contrast is pretty stark. Beautifully restored pre-colonial buildings right next to people living with sheets as doors and piles of trash and rotting food in the street.

It was amazing seeing buildings that were so incredibly old. Still standing to tell a part of their history.

daddy's girl

daddy’s girl

such a happy girl

such a happy girl

We walked around the town several times trying to find an art gallery we had read about, but never could locate it. The buildings in Panama don’t have addresses, but rather just crossroads or general directions, such as, “across from the cafe and down the street from the bakery”… Makes it fairly difficult to find anything specific!

Wall mural

Wall mural

After lunch, we visited a local ice cream shop, where each flavor is made of fresh ingredients.

Happy ice cream smile

Happy ice cream smile

John had the rum and raisin, I had the fresh ginger, and Olivia of course chose “pink” or strawberry :). It was a nice end to our morning out.

family mirror shot

Family mirror shot

 

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