Tuesday, 2 March 2010
Well we have now been in Cartagena for a month. Time sure flies by quickly! We have accomplished several boat chores and a lot of school work. We also took a bus trip to Carnival in Baranquilla a town a couple hours away. The boys actually had a live performance at a local restaurant and received rave reviews. This has inspired them to pull out their instruments so I am being serenaded as I write this blog. I wish I could include the music for you all to hear. We are thoroughly enjoying the old city of Cartagena. Most of it was built in the 1500’s and is like walking through a living museum. As Tavish noted he was in a washroom in a restaurant and the urinal was installed into a 500 year old wall. We just don’t have this kind of history in Canada. The architecture is Spanish colonial with balconies on all the buildings and bougainvillea flowers covering the balconies. As beautiful as the city is it’s real highlight is the people. The Colombian people have great senses of humour and are very easy to get a smile and a laugh from. They make learning Spanish fun for us all as they are more than willing to guess what we are trying to say and correct our mistakes with great patience and humour. On Feb. 15th 40 cruisers loaded on 2 buses at 9am and headed to Barranquilla with our guide Alex, his son and 2 assistants. The bus trip was very pleasant as the bus was air-conditioned. We stopped at a roadside empanada stand on the way for breakfast and arrived at Barranquilla at 11am. This was the day of the children’s Carnival parade which was meant to start at 1pm. We rented chairs to sit on under a canopy and as soon as we were all settled the canopy owners moved the canopy backwards so we were now sitting in the blazing sun. This didn’t last long as our man Alex jumped in and got our canopy back for us. There is enormous value in having a local advocating for you. It wasn’t long before the veteran carnival goers showed the rookies the ways of Carnival. We were covered in spray foam, water, and cornstarch in very short order. Unfortunately for the veterans we catch on quick and outnumbered them! We spent hours waiting for the parade to start having foam and water wars. The water here is sold in plastic bags which you drink out of by biting a small hole in a corner. This also makes for a great water gun when you squeeze the bag of icy , icy cold water. We were warned by the local military presence once that is was OK to spray each other but if we sprayed people we didn’t know they would have to take our weapons away. When the parade started at 3pm this rule no longer applied and then the only people not to be sprayed were the parade participants. This is a good thing as the costumes and makeup were very elaborate. The costumes generally used most of the material for the headdress which left very little to cover the rest of the body. This was a highlight for some of the members of our group, especially when Miss Brazil danced by! Janine was befriended by a local boy named Eduardo. Well the friendship started as a foam/water/cornstarch war but when Eduardo ran out of water he quickly switched alliances. By the end of the parade Eduardo’s mother decided Janine should adopt Eduardo as a 4th son. Janine was relieved when Eduardo’s mother gave her a pair of earrings instead of her son. It was just more proof that the people of Colombia really are it’s true gems. From the parade we climbed on the bus and travelled a short distance further into town where we had the option of going to the band competition. We all voted with our stomachs and chose to go for dinner at various local restaurants instead. At 9pm (which is like midnight for cruisers) we climbed onto our buses and had a quiet ride back to Cartegna and our boats. Of course a shower was required before we could crawl into our bunks. What a great day! While we have been in Cartagena we have been frequenting this great local restaurant called Pacho Y Guillos. It is owned and operated by a wonderful couple. Sandro the husband is Italian and his wife is from Bogota, Colombia. They lived in the States for several years and both speak Italian, Spanish ,English and Yiddish. Sandro makes wonderful thin crust pizza. Every day they have a lunch special for 5000 pesos which is about $2.75, this includes a large bowl of delicious homemade soup, coconut rice, beans, salad and your choice of chicken or meat as well as a drink of Juice. Again all this costs $2.75! It is not possible to go to the grocery store and buy the food for so little money. This what we have for lunch almost every day , and believe it or not the Minielly boys have finally decided they like soup! Pacho Y Guillo is also where Bradley and Tavish had their opening debut. After the crowning of the Cruising Queen ( maybe we will tell this story another time) the microphone was opened up and the boys were coerced into playing a couple of songs. They were awesome and that isn’t just their parent’s opinion. The boys left shortly after their set and their parents with Kevin and Melissa from Solange were left behind to collect the fans appreciation. The line of the evening was “yeah, were with the band”. As mentioned earlier this experience has had the bonus effect of inspiring the boys to dust off their very neglected instruments and start to work on learning more songs. Well now that we have been here for a month and our new mainsail has arrived (thank you Brett for getting it to us so quickly) we are getting ourselves organized to head out to the San Blas islands. These are a chain of over 300 islands off Panama that are inhabited by the Kuna tribe. They are remote and very limited supplies are available here. So how do you fit 6 weeks worth of food for a family with teenage eating machines onto a 46 foot boat? Stay tuned and we will let you know how it goes.