Another Eventful Day in Cartagena

Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia
Today we planned to ride the double decker tour bus into the Old City, but we received a personal lunch invite from the hotel group reservations manager.   Since we are trying to maintain or develop a relationship with this hotel, we thought that having lunch would be a good idea.  This did not allow sufficient time to do a bus tour and also get back in time. So, we adjusted accordingly.
We each took the opportunity to do some exercise.  Scott went to the gym to walk on the treadmill and lift some weights for his legs, and I went to the semi-Olympic pool to swim.  I swam 500 meters.  I found it more refreshing than running when it is 90 degrees outside.  After showering, I finished up the church announcement bulletins for this coming Sabbath, ready to get to my husband for final edits before sending out.  I knew the end of the week would be very busy with camp, so I wanted to get them done early.
Scott received a request for an urgent counseling, so he tried to connect with the person with a convenient time for both.  Since we will be in and out of internet connection all day today, this can be tricky.
We met Esther at 12:30 p.m. at the hotel restaurant.   They have a very nice buffet lunch with a variety of salad ingredients, breads, fresh and cooked vegetables, several main dishes, three desserts, and lemonade for a beverage.  Esther told us that many of the employees have worked at this hotel for 30 or 40 years.  I said that means the hotel is a good employer—the people want to stay.  She pointed out the owner of the hotel, who happened to be eating there that day. They have dozens of hotels around the world in their hotel group, and he is over all of them.
She introduced us to Sandro, the man in charge of all the food in the hotel.  He was very friendly.  Esther asked us to tell him about our dietary restrictions.  We told him about the dietary laws in Leviticus 23.  He told us that he was here to help us and that if we needed anything to just ask.  He also said he was a Christian, and asked some pointed questions. Scott decided to explain to him about the three options made available to man in the Garden of Eden—the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (which is actually two choices). He was interested in how eating certain foods involved the same choices. Follow God, or our own reasoning. We never know who we will meet and who will want to talk about the Bible.
We returned to our room and Scott was able to make a connection with his counseling appointment.  I needed to give him some privacy, so I went out to the patio to read.  It was shady, but it did get warm after a while.  When he finished, we had four minutes to run to the bus stop to catch the next bus.  We had missed the one we originally planned for. Fortunately, it is right outside the hotel.  The bus was about 10 minutes late, so we were able to get on.  We were going to have time to make two round trips in this late afternoon and evening—our favorite time to ride the bus.
We started off and when we were halfway through the trip, we were at a stop in the center of town. We were just getting ready to leave that stop, and the bus suddenly came to an abrupt stop with a loud bang!  The engine just died; yes, it died.   They told us another bus would be coming by in about 45 minutes and we would have to get on that bus.  We have ridden this tour bus about 20 times over the years and this was a first.
A group of four people had just gotten on the bus.  We saw them being undecided about whether they should buy the bus ticket or not.  I gave them the thumbs up and said it was worth the price.  Scott said, as they were haggling with the attendant, “Either yes or no, I suggest yes.” “You sure?!” the man said. Right after they got on the bus was when the bus quit.  We all had a good laugh about that. 
One couple was Colombian and the other was Colombian and Mexican, but living in Southern California for about 30 years.  This was their first time ever in Cartagena. We told them all the best things about the bus and a few other things we recommended about Cartagena.  We had a good chat on a non-moving bus for about a half hour. Finally the other bus came and we were able to get on that and finish our tour.   But because of the bus difficulties, we were only able to take one tour of the city instead of two.
We got off shortly before our hotel stop as Scott wanted to stop and buy a World Cup Colombian fútbol jersey at the open air market.  I asked the bus attendant what a good price was—she said, “No more than $10 USD—or $30,000 pesos.”  This way I have an idea as I knew we would be bartering.  The first lady I asked said, “$50,000 pesos.”  I moved on to another guy and he said, “$35,000.”  We appeared only somewhat interested, and offered him $25,000.  We then settled on $30,000 and we were both happy.
We went to get something for dinner.  Neither one of us had anything in mind that we really wanted—the selection of choices is so limited.  We finally settled on Baby Beef at the Hot! restaurant.  It is reasonably priced and has a better selection than most restaurants.  My beef was excellent—good flavor and tender; Scott had the same thing, but his steak was tough.  Sometimes you get a winner, and sometimes you don’t.
We returned to the room, and Scott had another follow up emergency counseling. He said, “I try to get all my ducks in a row before these trips…oh well.” I again had to escape to the patio to read.  I was so tired that I put my head down on the table to rest.  I fell asleep until I heard a noisy group come up the stairs on the other end of the hallway.  Finally, he was done and I could shower.  Whew!  I needed it.
We packed up our suitcases before bedtime as we were going to be leaving in the morning fairly early.
Colombia was playing a fútbol game at 7:00 a.m. for the World Cup.  Fortunately, there are no televisions in the breakfast restaurant, but some were watching it in the patio restaurant eating area.  We checked out, got our taxi to the airport, and checked in there without problems.  We waited in the Avianca lounge area until our flight was ready to depart.  Our flight to Bogota was uneventful.  We got a taxi for the short ride to the hotel and checked in.
We were greeted by a personal “welcome” note on the bed in our room in Bogota.   That was a first time for us.  We have stayed at the Aloft hotel before and we really like it.  If we are staying only one night, use the shuttle service, and book the room in advance, it is a better value than many other “cheaper” hotels.  Plus it has an excellent included breakfast buffet and a restaurant that is open until late.  Sometimes the late open restaurant is needed after all day of flying.
We were able to eat lunch, catch up on email, make a couple phone calls, and exercise before Montana arrived from the United States in the evening.  I went to the gym to run on the treadmill.  I put in my usual speed—10 Km or 6.2 mph, but I was so out of breath and I didn’t know why until I remembered that I was in Bogota with its high elevation.  So, I decided to walk quickly instead of collapsing from trying to run at the high elevation.
Montana arrived at 6:30 p.m. We caught up on her trip and her life since Winter Camp which is the last time that we have seen her.  Then we went to the restaurant to eat.  I had Ajiaco soup which is something I order here quite often.  Montana had a veggie sandwich, which she said was very good.  Scott had chicken wings, which were done teriyaki style and some cooked vegetables.  The wings  were OK; he prefers buffalo style better.
Knowing that we had to be up early for our bus trip the next morning, we went to bed around 10:00 p.m. Another fruitful day in Colombia!



Praying for a great youth camp, and safety for all! I so appreciate UCG's Youth Camp program, and the thousands of hours collectively volunteered each year for the next generation of God's Church. Keep up the good work!