Shore Excursions to Colombia, South America

Just a small section of the buildings overlooking the seaport of Cartagena, Colombia

The movie ‘Romancing the Stone’ with Danny DeVito, Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas helped popularize Cartagena, Colombia.  Colombia is also well-known for its association with the Medellin drug cartel.  For both of these reasons, I was not expecting much when visiting Cartagena.  What a surprisingly beautiful city it is from our ship’s port.

Simon Bolivar Slept Here

We were so busy with last-minute reservations for our six month tour of the Pacific, no investigation or planning was done for the many cruise ports we would visit.  Turns out Colombia seems to love two things, Simon Bolivar and the color yellow.  You will note every photo posted here contains some yellow.

As if it is not enough of an honor to have the entire country of Bolivia named after you, the city of Santa Marta, Colombia, our first cruise stop, honors this national hero by charging admission to view his toilet and bathtub.

Simon Bolivar toilet and wash basin


Simon Bolivar bathtub

The house where Simón lived and died is in a nice park setting. When Simón died in 1830, he was buried in the Santa Marta Cathedral in Colombia.  Twelve years later, at the request of the Venezuelan president, Bolivar’s remains were shipped off to Caracas, Venezuela, his birthplace.  In 2010 Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez had the body exhumed to see if the cause of death could be determined, tuberculosis or arsenic poisoning. 

Palm trees outside the Bolivar home

Maybe Simón is the one who started the trend to favor the color yellow.  Even the birds in the park have some yellow.

Let’s Dance for the Tourists

I really dislike going on tours where we are taken to watch the locals dance dressed up in costumes worn only for tourists. Unfortunately, such a dance was part of the Santa Marta tour.  The really bad part of these dances is when they drag people from the audience to the dance floor. The front row is not a good place to be.  I managed to not be selected for audience participation by not making any eye contact.  The photos I took are at a slow shutter speed to try to show the movement of the dancers.  Notice more yellow.

Even MORE dancing

I did take some iPhone videos of the actual dancing performance, even experimenting with slow motion for their wild gyrations.  However, I am just too embarrassed to post it.  It may only be shared with my brother-in-law Doug.  We have an ongoing contest for who sits through the most embarrassing performances.  So far, I am in the lead.


Fruit Everywhere, for Tourists and Locals

The vibrant colors in Cartagena make it an enjoyable locale for most any photographer.  More than just a single afternoon stop would have been fun.  In such a warm climate, fruit is easily grown then sold in the plazas to locals as well as tourists.  More yellow.


More yellow


Even MORE yellow

The men seemed to have a decidedly less flamboyant method of selling their fruit than the women.  Sometimes when I take photos of people, I worry they will look up and get mad at me.  Sometimes I ask permission.  This guy, concentrating on his sharp knife, never looked up once in the several minutes I watched him.


Six Cranes a Dancing… Five Shippers Shipping

Container ship in port of Cartagena. The Norwegian Sun cruise ship can be seen in the lower right corner.

Most men enjoy watching heavy equipment in action.  These cruise ports are full of large, heavy machinery working with precision.  To more quickly load such large container ships, six or more cranes can be in constant motion.  In an era of innovations such as self-driving cars, it seems this would be an area ripe for computer automation.  At times there was a man waving forward, left or right to the crane operator.  It appears to be the same method used 50 years ago.  On the other hand, I did not get to see the electronics in the crane operator’s cabin.

Miscellaneous Info Learned in Santa Marta, Colombia

  • Motorcycles are called the Colombian Uber.  It is common to see motorcyclist carrying an extra helmet for the next ride they may pick up.  However, they will only pick up women passengers as they are too fearful of getting robbed by men.  The women often have small children with them who ride wedged in between the driver and mom.
  • Colombia is accepting hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans each year who are fleeing their crazy government. The Venezuelans are allowed to stay and work in Colombia for six months before they must leave.
  • The grocery stores do not sell prepackaged goods, like a pound of sugar.  Due to the widespread poverty, most food is sold from large bins so small quantities can be purchased for only a few pennies or for preparing only one meal.

Next, on to the Panama Canal for more machinery in motion.

8 thoughts on “Shore Excursions to Colombia, South America

  1. Happy New Year!

    I’m a little confused on Simon’s toilet configuration. What is the purpose of the slide out compartment on the left?

    My guess would be that the drawer below the wash basin was used for magazine storage?

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