Wednesday, August 27, 2008


A World Heritage site with beautifully restored Spanish architecture, Cartagena is a wonderful place to work for my fellowship. The scene above is what I see when I go to lunch or stroll around the historic city.

The old city is surrounded by a stone and corral wall, which the Spanish constructed over a period of 200 years (from the late 1500s to the late 1700s) to protect the city against pirate attacks. The wall remains remarkably intact, with only one section removed in the early 1900s for modernization. Much of the downtown thus remains behind the fortress walls.
Behind those walls are narrow streets with colorful colonial homes. It covers a quite large area; it's easy to become a bit disoriented wandering the streets.
There are many places to explore, with fortresses, cathedrals and monasteries (above) throughout the city.
The main cathedral of Cartagena.
Outside of the historic city, Cartagena is growing rapidly. There is a lot of development on a peninsula that juts out into the sea, called Boca Grande. We live in this neighborhood, which is largely apartments and beach hotels. It is about a 30 minute walk from here to the office.
The beach is only a block away in Boca Grande, and there are other nice beach areas on nearby islands. A marine national park is about an hour by boat away, and The Nature Conservancy is working to improve management of such national parks (more on this on Friday). The beach above is a few miles outside of Cartagena, a very peaceful spot.
This past weekend, we visited a nearby volcano. It no longer spews lava but still contains about liquid mud about a mile deep. We climbed into it and despite the depth of the mud, bobbed around it like apples in water. It was a strange sensation and overall a bizarre experience.
It's been a wonderful place to live and work for the past couple of weeks. Cartagena's many charms are becoming more well known around the world, as evidenced by the extensive development in the beach areas. Hopefully the city can benefit from this without losing its history, culture and natural features.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

I forgot how beautiful that city is. As I recall there is a great place to hang out and get a hamburger (if your not sick of arroz con coco and pescado) in the Manga neighborhood. It is on the waterfront near boca chica I think, the restaurant overlooks the bay. Have you had a chance to take the public transportation? That is a pretty wild experience as well.