2009 World Cruise – We were up at 6:45 in order to have lots of time before our first tour of the cruise. Thank heaven for room service breakfasts.
Our home for the next four+ months. Cartagena de Indias was founded in 1533 and became a major port for Spanish ships taking gold and other products from northern South America. The city also became a center for the Inquisition and a major slave market. The province declared its independence from Spain in 1811 and years of civil war followed. Today the city is Colombia’s fifth largest, mainly due to petroleum fields discovered in the Rio Magdalena Valley in 1917.
The first stop on our tour was Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, a massive stone fortress that covers a hill 135 feet above sea level. it was originally built in the 1600’s and named after Spain’s King Philip IV. Over the years it was re-fortified and expanded. In front of the fortress is a statue of Don Blas de Lezo, a Spanish Admiral who defended the fortress and city from an attack by Great Britain in 1741. (If you look closely at the statue you will notice the empty right sleeve – hence the left-handed swordsman – and a wooden left leg. Don de Lezo lost these limbs in other battles and also lost an eye – brave and persevering fellow, I think.) The view over the city was magnificent.
In a park there is a statue of national hero Simon Bolivar, who defeated the Spanish and liberated most of South America. He died Dec 17, 1880 from, it is commonly believed, tuberculosis (known at the time as Galloping Consumption).
(FYI – It is commonly held – although not universally adhered to (as proven by this statue) – that the position of the legs of the horse in an equestrian statue signify the death of the rider. If the horse is rearing with both front legs off the ground, the rider is said to have died in battle. If only one front leg is off the ground, the rider was wounded in battle and died of his wounds later. If all four feet of the horse are on the ground, the rider survived any battles and died later of other causes. Just so you know.) All in all, it was a good first port-of-call and an interesting tour on a nice day.