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May 24, 2017
Russell’s Colombian Quest

The Worldtrippers welcome you to Santa Marta, Colombia (that’s our Deck 4 cabin window)

We had a completely free day at sea on Tuesday, May 23. Gail was close to getting burned out on presentation research, so we decided to take the day off. We relaxed, caught up on sleep and visited with other passengers.

On Wednesday, May 24, we had a port day in Santa Marta, Colombia. This is the only port we have not visited before; it is also our first time we in Colombia. Once again, we did not schedule a paid excursion. And once again, we joined up with fellow passengers Richard and Wendy.

The ship docked at a working cargo port, and we had to take a (free) shuttle to the pier so we wouldn’t get hit by a forklift. Given the heat, we hired a cab ($5 American) to the old town center. We saw another old Catholic Church. And we went to another local grocery store, where we found more local spices and sauces.

We were amazed that this tiny cab could fit four passengers

The “little grocery store” (as the Tourist Booth described it) was actually the size of a Target department store

(Gail has been complaining that the cruise ship doesn’t have any crunchy food. Everything is soft, probably to accommodate the older clientele. She made a point to buy some crunchy snack chips.)

On the walk back to the ship, we stopped at various souvenir stores along the waterfront. At the last shop, Gail almost bought herself a dress but decided against it. At the ship, Russell ran into two other fellow passengers, Tim and Luanna. They had just completed a rather miserable paid excursion. (It was hot and humid, and they had gotten eaten up by mosquitoes.) They wanted to do some souvenir shopping, and Russell advised them to visit the waterfront stores we had just visited.

Our ship was docked at a busy working cargo port

Our portside reception area advertised “Free Wi-Fi.” But after 20 minutes, Gail couldn't connect to anything.

After lunch on the ship, we realized that we had forgotten one souvenir. So we walked back off ship and went back to the last souvenir shop. As soon as they saw Gail, the proprietors happily brought out the dress, thinking we had changed our minds. They were disappointed when all we bought was a keychain.

On our second return to the ship, we ran into Tim and Luanna again. They had gone souvenir shopping, but were unable to find a postcard to send to their five-year-old grandson back home. Gail was tired, but Russell volunteered to take Luanna back into town.

As soon as we walked into our familiar souvenir shop, the proprietors happily brought out Gail’s dress again, thinking we had changed our minds. They were disappointed (again) when all we bought was a postcard. (It still cost $1 American.)

Finding a postage stamp was much more challenging. The proprietors told us to walk four blocks back into the old town. We did, but couldn’t find any shop that would sell us a stamp. (Not speaking any Spanish, Luanna kept pointing to the corner of the postcard where the stamp should go. People kept thinking she was asking what it was a picture of.)

We learned the Spanish word for stamp: “estampilla.” We were also directed all over old town, but still couldn’t find anything. Finally, we stopped a random man on the street and asked him (in broken Spanish) where we could buy an “estampilla.” Not only did he find out where we needed to go, he volunteered to walk us there.

Some shots of downtown Santa Marta

José was a young lawyer from Cartagena. He recently moved here to Santa Maria because it had a lower cost of living and better job prospects. (His aunt lives here). José had learned some English at school, and Russell was happy to help him practice his skills.

We had a charming conversation during our seven-block walk to the local post office. José saw us to the door and said good bye. We told the clerk inside that we needed an estampilla for a post card to the United States. He quoted a number in Colombian currency. Luanna asked about “dinero americano.” The clerk declared, “Uno dollar.”

Luanna handed over a bill. The clerk pondered again, then said “Dos dollar.” Luanna handed over another bill. The clerk pondered again, then decided that was sufficient. Luanna handed over her postcard. We hope it gets to her grandson some day. It turned out to be a rather expensive postcard, but Luanna was very grateful for Russell’s help.

Back aboard ship, Russell told Gail about his latest adventure. She said, “You could have bought me the dress. That would have made me very happy.” Sigh…

We were treated to a gorgeous sunset over the lighthouse as we sailed away out of Santa Marta


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