One of the main reasons I went to Cartagena was to get back in the water, aka scuba dive. I hadn't been since my honeymoon in Indonesia, so I was a tiny bit rusty... but Diving Planet in Cartagena took care of that. Here are the photos of the day (please note that the underwater photos are not mine = the dive camera malfunctioned, and I'm still awaiting the possible retrieval of the photos).
Las Islas del Rosario lie to the southwest of Cartagena, in the Caribbean Sea.
Diving Planet's office in El Centro, Cartagena.
Warnings about the non-native and highly poisonous lionfish (pez de leon). I was very excited at the prospect of seeing one up close (but not too close).
Diving Planet's doorway.
I opted to ride in the back of the truck on the way down to the harbor.
Away we go...
View of El Centro from the harbor.
A Peruvian guy, Harold, would be my diving buddy for the day.
Looking back at El Centro from the boat ride through the harbor.
Cartagena's office and apartment buildings.
Cartagena has grown into a major cruise ship stop. I was stopped several times by cruise ship people, who thought I was part of their group.
It would take about an hour to get down to the islands.
Andres, the dive master, points to something of interest.
The rest of the divers, including an American in the foreground.
Near Bocagrande, part of Cartagena.
This was either Bocagrande or near it.
Almost to open water, but not quite.
Once we passed this fortress, we'd have open water til the islands.
One of the first of the Islas del Rosario that we spotted. Some of the islands are only big enough for a resort, like this one.
Others were barely big enough for two houses.
We arrived at our particular resort, from which we would venture out to the dive sites.
Not a bad place whatsoever.
Hotel Cocoliso was the name of our resort.
The beach looked inviting, but it was underwater that called to us all.
None of the following five pictures are mine. Credit to a random Flickr user. These are from similar dives in las Islas del Rosario, so it gives you an idea of what I saw. Not pictured = a wreck, which was the highlight of our first dive.
I saw not one, but THREE lionfish on my second dive. They were all underneath coral outcroppings. They're surprisingly large - almost rugby ball or American football sized. The dive master, Andres, had been stung before, and said it was so painful he quite literally wanted to cut off his hand. Fortunately for me, the lionfish isn't aggressive.
Yours truly, post diving.
Time to head back to civilization.
An Argentine and his son (one of two) were part of the team.
We took a different way back than the way we took in.
It was far more interesting.
Cartagena's harbor, about 90 minutes after we left las Islas del Rosario.
Later that night, I would walk to the San Diego district of Cartagena. This is Muelle Turistico de los Pegasos, which is named for these statues of the Pegasus.
It was another gorgeous night in El Centro.
The obligatory Messi shirt (hey, it's South America after all).
Plaza Fernandez de Madrid
Iglesia de Santo Toribio de Mangrovejo
A street in the San Diego district.
My dinner location = La Cevicheria, which admittedly attracted me because Anthony Bourdain ate there when he came to Cartagena.
A Latin American tradition common in Colombia is cerveza michelada, which is beer mixed with lime juice and spices. La Cevicheria's wasn't spicy, but others I had in Cartagena were downright picante.
My ceviche - not life changing, but good nonetheless.
This mozzarella-based dessert with a fruit sauce WAS life-changing, however. Yum.
Inside Iglesia de Santo Toribio de Mangrovejo.
The church is noted for surviving a cannonball that interrupted a service in 1741. They proudly display the cannonball at the front of the church.
I couldn't end the night without going down to Plaza de la Aduana.
Time to leave El Centro for the evening, through Puerta del Reloj.
Coming up = my final day in Cartagena. Stay tuned.