Getting Vaccinated in Cartagena

It was our first day of riding since purchasing the motorcycle and we couldn’t have been happier to be skipping the bus. We were leaning sideways into an extremely strong wind as we drove along the ocean road from Taganga to Cartegeña. As we curved inland we knew we were getting close to the city as we got jammed up in traffic. Unfortunately, with the bags sitting horizontally across the bike we weren’t quite thin enough to squeeze between vehicles. We got into the historic district of Cartageña and zig-zagged our way through the cobblestone streets until we found a hotel we liked. It was still peak season in mid-January and a lot of the popular hostels were full, none-the-less we found a comfortable hotel with a rooftop patio and a balcón overlooking the street.

The historic neighbourhood of Cartageña is the perfect place to get lost in. It’s famous for the colourful buildings that line the streets and the many balconies that are decorated with cascading plants and flowers. With tall buildings and a narrow maze of one-way streets it’s easy to lose your bearings and end up far from your hotel.

cartegena_contrasts
Two contrasting sides of Cartegeña.
cartegenamarket
A colourful market inside the walled colonial city (ciudad amurallada).
cartegena_streetsigns
The tiled street signs on every corner.
cartegena_jesse
Jesse on top of the wall that surrounds the colonial city.
cartegena_streetcorner
A bicycle vendor selling something sugary (there is no shortage of sweets here).
cartegena_skatepark
360 flip to fakie at the local skatepark.

As we were preparing for our trip to South America we (at the last minute) considered the vaccines we may need. Luckily we were mostly up-to-date since our last trip to Asia, but one we were missing was the Yellow Fever vaccine. In Canada, after a mandatory consultation this can cost up to $250 and since we leave most things ’til the last possible second this wasn’t an option. Luckily, Colombia is awesome and you can get the vaccine here for free. We made a few wrong turns but with a little help from the locals we found the clinic and judging by our skin colour they immediately guessed why we were there. We were directed across the parking lot to an even smaller clinic that had no other patients and the nurses quickly registered our passports and gave us the shots in less than 5 minutes. Overall it was extremely clean and efficient (and free!).

cartegena_yellowfever
The smaller clinic where we got our shots.

One of our favourite parts of Colombia (and Europe … and South-East Asia) are all the ‘squares’ where everyone meets in the evenings to socialize, drink, eat, listen to music, dance and other shenanigans. Depending on the size of the city and the time of year it can be a full blown block party. Cartegeña had a great square a few blocks from our hotel where, around dusk, we would inevitably end up to take shots of aguardiente (the local liquor), talk to locals and other travellers, and sample food from the vendors lining the square. Funny enough, despite the open air policy on drinking we never see problems with intoxication in this country (are you listening Canada!)

cartegena_nightmarket
The night market/fiesta in the square.

After a quick vacation to Isla Baru (post coming soon!) we returned to Cartegeña so I could finish some work with a decent internet connection. After meeting up with our Acadian friend from Magdelan Island (did you even know this place existed in Canada?!) for another night in the square we hit the road towards Mompós.

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