Cartagena, looking north towards the Caribbean
Cartagena, looking north towards the Caribbean

End of the South American Line – Postcard from Cartagena

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 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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