Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | December 14, 2012

Christmastime in Cartagena

N 10° 24.95′   W 75° 32.68′

Cartagena, Colombia.


The city is adorned with holiday decorations including these penguins we found on a sweltering morning walk outside a pretty home in Castillogrande. There are familiar holiday tunes and we were surprised to hear the English “Twelve Days of Christmas” broadcast on the loudspeaker at a shopping mall.

We are off to the San Blas, saying “adios” to Cartagena as the city is gearing up for Christmas. We’d love to stay longer, but our 90 day immigration and customs permits will expire soon.  There is much to see in the San Blas and we want to beat the Christmas winds and get tucked behind the reefs that shelter that area.  I am re-reading the wonderfully detailed “Panama Cruising Guide” by Eric Bauhaus and discovered there are so many little islands to stop at in the San Blas that we couldn’t even spend a day or two at each inviting anchorage and stay on schedule. I’m not sure where we will end up spending Christmas. Probably somewhere around Isla Pinos.

Based on some updated local knowledge we hear there are a couple of excellent Colombian cruising destinations to visit as we head south from Cartagena.  Weather permitting we will stop at the Rosarios and perhaps make a few additional stops before arriving in Panama.  We explored making the entire passage via day trips, but the word is that in the rural area between Isla Fuerte and Sapzurro there are no safe anchorages.  We will still need to make one overnight passage.

We will do our best to keep up the blog for the next couple of months, which will depend on when and where we find internet along the way. There may be some long lapses between posts, or no posts, or perhaps text-only posts for a couple of months.  By March we expect to have worked our way from the eastern to western San Blas, then on to Shelter Bay Marina in Colon.


Elaine,Lee, Pachi and pup Camilla

We have enjoyed getting to know Lee and Pachi Miles while in Cartagena. Lee is the Ambassador for the Seven Seas Cruising Association. He has led an intriguing life, spending much of his childhood as an American living abroad and attending high school in Bogata. He married lovely Pachi, who grew up  in Cartagena, raised their family here, has a successful emerald business -“Mr. Emerald”- and coordinates city tours for visitors. He and Pachi are also sailors who enjoy cruising the Colombian coast and the San Blas. Visiting boaters should definitely get in touch with Lee as a gracious and helpful local resource – whether or not you are in the market for emeralds or a tour.  It was a treat to visit their home one afternoon where they served a traditional meal, which here is usually the largest meal of the day.  We dined on a Colombian style roast, coconut rice made with coconut milk, a sweet tortilla casserole made with plantains, green salad, fresh coconut pie (similar to a torte, not a cream pie) and ice cream. Who says Colombian food isn’t special? Everything was so delicious!!!


We have also enjoyed excellent restaurant dining here, including traditional and international fare and several fabulous gourmet meals at the Club and nearby restaurants. Bob, who loves Southern-style cooking, found this humongous country platter at La Parrilla (“The Grill”) in the food court in nearby Plaza Mall. It consisted of beans, rice, arepa (sort of like cornbread), pork, ground beef, sausage, plantain, fried egg & avocado.  Did we really need the side of fries??? With the beverage it was $13 US. I found a more appealing stir fry at the Sarku Japon, a US chain that is expanding in Colombia.  My Bucs shirt led to a conversation with the friendly manager who used to live in FL.


We couldn’t believe all the trikes and bikes we saw at the local market. Guess lots of kids will be getting them for Christmas!


Club de Pesca has been well decorated since we arrived, and had a 3 day traditional “Festival del Mar” last week with fishing tournament, entertainment and family activities.


Bandit has made friends with the cute marina pup “Danger”. His name is English, with a Spanish pronunciation. Little “DON-jair” got into something he shouldn’t have eaten the other day and we thought he might have done himself in. He was lucky a quick trip to the vet saved his life and he was back to puppy activities, zooming all over the place the next day. And we have discovered the mystery behind Lady’s reluctance to go on walks. The “ferocious” watch dog seems to be afraid of the marina dogs!


View of harbor, Club Nautico and the port from Lee and Pachi’s apartment. Yes – that is a familiar US Coast Guard ship in the distance! We are happy to see them here, so far from home, helping to keeping the waters safe.

Wishing our family, friends and blog followers a most wonderful holiday season.

Feliz Navidad to all!!!

Elena, Roberto, Senora & Bandita

(our aliases in Spanish-speaking lands)



  1. Feliz Navidad! Enjoy this very special time of the year in paradise!

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