End of the South American Line – Postcard from Cartagena

Cartagena, looking north towards the Caribbean

Cartagena, Colombia – After a fourteen-and-a-half hour bus ride from Medellin, I arrived in Cartagena this morning, the northernmost point I plan to reach on the South American continent. The snap above, taken from the top floor of my hotel, was my first view of the Caribbean since 1999.

The climb north officially began 127 days ago on Martillo Island on the Beagle Channel in Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost point where I managed to plant my feet. As the harrier flies, that’s 7,754 kilometers, or 4,818 miles ago, nearly twice the width of the continental U.S. With the exception of a couple hitches, the entirety was covered by bus. I think last night’s was the last longer bus ride for at least the next two months. I hope so because they’re killing me.

Cartagena is also the hottest place I’ve experienced this year. The mercury had already reached 32 C (90 F) when I arrived this morning, with the humidity hovering at about 80 percent. Now, it’s cooled down to a sultry 30 degree (86 F), which weather.com says ‘feels like 99’. I believe it.

Just eighteen weeks to cover the length of an entire continent was woefully short, particularly the past month when the sudden immediacy of deadlines forced abbreviated stays in Ecuador and Colombia. I have to be in San Jose, Costa Rica, on the 27th, and have to catch a boat here for Panama (via the San Blas Islands!) on the 14th. So I won’t be moving on just yet.

I’ll be parked in Cartagena for the next six nights, exploring the city’s colonial charms while trying to catch up on a bit of work. I’ve been making decent progress on my book manuscript in recent weeks, so I can’t stop the momentum now. I hope to share a chapter or two here when they’re near some sort of completion.

To give you quick lay of the land, below are a few more snaps taken today.


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  1. Inbal says

    Have you got my e-mail?

    1. BobR says


  2. Playamart - Zeebra Designs says

    Enjoy Cartagena and enjoy staying in one spot for a while! You’ll surely get some great photos there!

    Have your ears been burning lately? Silvana and I have been on a three-day painting binge, and we were not only reminiscing, but she gave a summary of the many posts i’ve recently missed.

    the restaurant is getting a new look, and i think you’d approve of the changes!

    rest well and have fun in Cartagena!

    1. BobR says

      Sorry I missed it! You know, I had a brush forced upon me at a very early age, so I actually could have been put to good use.

  3. ilargia64 says

    I have been told Cartagena de Indias is a wonderful and beautiful city…Hope you enjoy it!

    1. BobR says

      It’s quite nice so far, thanks!

  4. Looking forward to your adventures in Cartagena and then your boat trip to the San Blas Islands. Next March, April and part of May, we’re taking the boat from Panama through the San Blas Islands to Cartagena and onward to Ecuador. It will kind of be a backward trip of yours. Enjoy your remaining days in SA. I am loving your blog. 🙂

    1. BobR says

      Excellent! I think you’ll love it. Just don’t do it as quickly as I’m being forced to. 🙂 Unrelated – can you send me a quick email via the email link on my front page? I can’t find a contact email on your blog and would love to get in touch re: my visit to Ometepe sometime in July. Thanks!

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