After an incredible day of sightseeing, there was still one more task on our to-do list— Font màgica de Montjuïc, also known as the Montjuïc Magic Fountain. The fountain first premiered in 1929 for the International Exhibition (also known as the World’s Fair), and has since blown tourists and locals away with its beautiful display of colors, lights, and of course, its synced and coordinated water movements.
The fountain’s water moves in accordance with the music that is playing, and the lights that are constantly changing, and it is truly a wonderful sight. Behind the fascinating water show is the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, which is Barcelona’s National Art Museum. Although we didn’t have time to see the exhibits, we were able to see the museum lit up at night, which was also spectacular.
Once the show ended, my sister and I crossed the street and came across Las Arenas, which is a shopping mall. We didn’t know this at the time, as we assumed it was a bullfighting ring since that’s what it looked like. It turns out, Las Arenas was actually a bullring, but was transformed into a mall in 2011 since bullfighting in Barcelona was banned in 2010. Although the shops in the mall were closed at the time, we went to the rooftop to see what was up there, and ended up sitting down at a restaurant for dinner. We ordered sangria (which if you couldn’t tell by now, is a must in Spain), as well as patatas bravas (once again), and seafood paella (because we couldn’t get enough of it. The food and views from the rooftop were great, and we couldn’t wait to get started on our next day in Barcelona!
Upon waking up in the morning, we began our day by heading out to La Boquilla, a fisherman village in Cartagena where individuals from class zero and class one live (the two lowest socioeconomic classes in the city). La Boquilla is considered to be a fisherman village because the main activity for locals here is fishing. Fishing is so great in this area because the ocean is connected to the swamp, so local fisherman are able to catch fish from both areas of water. If you were to go to the village at 5:30am, you could purchase caught fish that are still alive, swim in the local water, and go prepare your freshly caught lunch.
There is a lot of construction taking place around La Boquilla, especially the building of hotels, so the locals have worked out a deal with the government. The deal is that hotels building around La Boquilla must employ 20 percent of their staff from the area. In addition, the must either feed these individuals once a month, or educate them in order to help give back to this community.
La Boquilla is known for having the biggest natural reserve in Cartagena. Mangroves here grow up and down, similar to the path of a circle. This is because when the mangrove grows downwards, it creates a new mangrove tree that continuously repeats the process. You can also tell the color of the mangrove by looking at the bottom of the trunk. The colors can be black, red, or white.
Something interesting about La Boquilla is the fact that numerous members of the community come together to raise money for one another and for their neighborhood. This is evident in the fact that some members make the canoes by hand, others row the canoes when tourists come to town, and a select few are in charge of organizing visits from tour groups in Cartagena. These canoe rides, offered on what is called a bote canoa chalupa (or small canoe boat), are a main source of income to the locals in La Boquilla, and they take great pride in the work that they collectively do.
This week’s Snapshot Challenge photo was taken in La Boquilla in Cartagena, Colombia. The lower class individuals in the city live in this area, and the boats you see below are handmade from some of the local residents. Offering canoe rides to tourists is a main source of income to the locals in La Boquilla, so some individuals make the boats, others row the boats, and a few are in charge of working with tour groups to bring in tourists. Seeing so many people from the community come together to raise funds for their neighborhood is truly a beautiful sight, which is why I chose this particular picture for this week’s Snapshot Challenge.
As we continued with the city tour of Cartagena, our next stop was El Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, which took more than 130 years of construction, and was finally completed in 1657. It is all made by hand and it was built from the top to the bottom by African slaves who were brought to Colombia. As you might notice, the walls are inclined and not straight because if a cannon were to hit the walls, it would not be able to go through it.
On top of the fortress, we came across the Colombian flag which is yellow, blue, and red. The yellow is meant to represent gold, the blue is supposed to represent the ocean (Colombia is the only South American country with two oceans), and the red represents the blood of the country’s martyrs. Some say that the yellow represents blonde hair, blue represents blue eyes, and red represents red lips since Colombian women are known for their beauty.
Throughout the fortress, there are small tunnels because years ago, the Spaniards were small and were able to enter the tunnels and run through them. The British and French were tall though, so they had to duck their heads and were not able to dedicate their complete concentration to running since they had to worry about not hitting the top of the tunnels. There are also various cabins that can be found throughout the tunnels where individuals would hide, and if they didn’t have a password to enter, they would be killed.
The only person to actually live in the fortress years ago was the leader of the army. Everyone else lived in what was called the walled city (since the city was walled off from pirates as mentioned in a previous post), and when enemies arrived, someone was in charge of ringing a bell, and when it sounded, soldiers would go running up the fortress. As we made our way to the top of the fortress, it began continuously pouring rain. After waiting for nearly 40 minutes, our group decided to walk down the fortress in the rain and go back to the bus. By the time we got onto the bus, we were soaking wet, and of course, the rain stopped within minutes. After this downpour, floods filled some of the streets due to the rain, and we were told that by 2017, the sea level will rise nearly feet due to poor drainage throughout the city.
At the bottom of the fortress, there is a statue commemorating Blas de Lezo who was once known as “Patapalo” or “Pegleg” and eventually as “Mediohombre” or “Half-Man” due to the numerous injuries he suffered during his time in the military. In the statue, “The man is brandishing a sword in his left arm, because he lost his right arm in the Battle of Barcelona; minus one leg lost in the Battle of Gibraltar; and wearing an eye patch covering his left eye lost in the Battle of Toulon. This same man lost his life in the Battle for Cartagena, the last of his 23 campaigns. This man is Don Blas de Lezo” (http://www.cartagenainfo.net/glenndavid/blasdelezo.html).
After drying off at the hotel and changing our clothes, we got back onto the bus made our way towards Las Bóvedas. Las Bóvedas, also known as “The Vaults” were built as dungeons and consists of 23 dungeons which were used to hold ammunition and at one point, prisoners. These dungeons were the last thing built by the Spaniards to close off the walled city. Las Bóvedas currently consists of shops, and it is where many tourists can be found purchasing locally hand-made items goods and artwork.
Upon waking up in the morning, we drove directly to the airport as we made our way to Cartagena, Colombia. On our way, we were told that Bogotá has one percent of all the gyms in the world. As a health conscious city, Bogotá also has what is called Ciclovía every Sunday. From 7am-2pm, many of the streets are closed for people to do exercise such as biking, walking, or running. As we drove to the airport, we saw countless individuals bicycling and running along the streets. It was fascinating to see the government support such a great idea.
After a short flight to Cartagená, it was time for us to learn more about the city as we drove to our hotel. Hotel Carribe, the hotel we stayed at was built between 1945-1950, and was the first hotel built in Cartagena. More recently, it is famously known for a scandal involving President Obama’s secret service. Before President Obama arrived to Cartagena a short while ago, his secret service (who were staying at Hotel Carribe) were caught fighting with prostitutes regarding their costs.
As is the same in Bogota, all males must go to the army to receive 18 months of military experience upon graduating from high school. The only exceptions are if the individual is disabled, married, has children, or is continuing with his studies by attending college. Otherwise, the individual will receive a fine (with the amount depending on his social class) and he risks the possibility of a legal kidnapping in which the military can find and bring him to their station to enlist him.
Cartagena has been said to have the third most important port in all of South America after Brazil and Chile. Tourism is the next biggest source of income in Cartagena after the port. In one cruise alone which docked just a few weeks before our arrival, between $400,000-$500,000 was made in emerald sales alone. Restaurants and hotels also bring in a fair share of money from tourists as well, but emerald sales are a big hit with the tourists as well.
One of the entrances into Cartagena is named Boca Grande because of how big it is. Walls throughout the city once protected Cartagena from pirates due to a significant amount of pirate attacks years ago to steal treasure and merchandise.
November 11th is Cartagena’s Independence Day, and that whole week consists of parties throughout the city. Even the government approved of the partying by offering fifty cent beers throughout the city.
After learning a few interesting facts about the city, we arrived at the hotel to drop off our belongings. As we arrived, we were greeted with fruit cocktails before the start of our city tour.
After a long day of exploring Bogotá, we had the night off to do as we pleased—which really meant continue exploring the city on our own. As we were dropped off in the center of the city, we decided to stop at Andrés Carne de Res, also known as Andrés DC. First opened in 1982 by Andrés Jaramillo as a small restaurant with only ten tables, Andrés DC is now known throughout the city as a go-to restaurant and club for tourists and locals alike. Each floor in the restaurant is designed differently, as one represents hell, another represents purgatory, the third represents earth, and the last represents heaven. The concept of the restaurant is just as fascinating as the food is delicious.
After grabbing some appetizers and drinks at Andrés DC, we continued to walk throughout the city center until we found a restaurant to have dinner. As the night came to a close, we walked a little longer until returning to our hotel to prepare for a long day ahead—traveling to Cartagena, Colombia.