Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Day 8

Vamos a la playa... oh ooooh oh oh!

Day 8. The funniest moment of the trip so far. A Colombian driver who was supposed to pick us up at 8:30 AM yelled at us for being 5 minutes late! We were a bit confused, especially the Germans, who were by now getting a bit cozy with the Colombian time. (Good luck when you return home, Georg :) ! ).

Getting ready for the beach:

Rosario Islands is a 1 hour ride on a speed boat from Cartagena. As we left the Cartagena bay, we could see the water turn from dark green to blue. First, we stopped by the mouth of the bay where there are 2 forts on either side. We were told that the Spanish Navy would bomb any enemy naval vessel which tried entering the Cartagena bay. The bay was a great natural protection for the city.

Completely random story: Blaz de Lezo was a 17th Naval admiral of Cartagena and was also called "Half Man". He had 1 eye, 1 leg and 1 hand. The Half Man was able to hold off a formidable Great Britain Naval force of 124 ships and more than 30,000 combat troops with just a navy of 3000 men, 600 Indian archers and only 6 Spanish ships! I learned from the tour guide that one of the main advantages that the Half Man and the Spanish defense had against the Great Britain offense was that he had an Airforce................... of mosquitoes.

It was a really hot day and the sun was out by now. The weather so far really cooperated and we hardly saw any rain. We reached the islands on a private entrance by 9:30 AM where we were told, we had time until 3:00 PM to do any of the following activities on the island: kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, get a massage, take a hiking trip through the rain forest to a village and then kayak in the mangroves. The other option was to take the boat to another island where there was a very nice aquarium with dolphin shows, etc.

Most of us decided to do snorkeling and skip the aquarium. This was one of my best snorkeling experiences ever. We were given instructions in Spanish on the boat (very encouraging for first time snorkelers in our group and people who did not know how to swim). 15 of us were taken on a boat 10 mins off the coast. Then we were asked to jump into the water with our swim fins and goggles. For people who did not know how to swim, there was a tube which they could hold on to and would be pulled by the snorkeling guide. The corals started off pretty deep, we could see some nice fish, but nothing spectacular. But as we went deeper into the sea, the corals started getting closer and more shallower and we could almost touch the fish hiding in the corals. 30 mins into the journey, there was nothing but corals around us and all kinds of fish from Barracudas to Blue Tangs. At one point, the corals were 2 inches from my belly and I was forced to navigate my way through the corals - almost like I was scuba diving instead of snorkeling! I hate saying this but I was forced at least once, to hold a coral with my hands and push myself forward in order to avoid being stabbed by the coral in my abdomen. I hate touching corals because they are a living organisms and are very important to the ocean and the marine animals that depend on them. 60% of the coral reefs around the world are in danger due to human related activites. Anyway, suffices to say that it was an extreme snorkeling experience.

After 1 hour of snorkeling and swimming, most of us were totally exhausted. We had a great lunch buffet with Arroz con coco, arepa con huevo, ensalada, fried banana, Yuca fries and some juice.

Steffen and I got a massage right after lunch under a canopy. We paid 30,000 pesos or roughly 10 USD for a 30 min massage. I did not exactly think she used any scientific methods for the massage, but after snorkeling for 1 hour, I did not really care if it was a deep tissue massage or a random pressure on the back by an unqualified massage therapist. Plus, I almost fell asleep even though there was loud reggae music playing right next to my ears.

We returned to Cartagena by 3:30 PM and took the shuttle to the hotel. We then met again for dinner in the downtown (same place as Day 7).

Georg, Michal, Gek, Rene and I went to the Casino and played Blackjack and Roulette for a while. I won 30,000 pesos and Rene won 35,000. With 4 tables games and probably 10 slot machines, this is officially the smallest casino I have ever seen.

We went to McDonalds for an icecream because all other restaurants were closed.  The humidity by now was probably 100% and we were sweating pretty bad. Mcdonalds food never tasted so good before today!

A great day on the beach and the sea - even though I'm not a beach person.

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