Sailing the Spanish Main!

by Mary Jo

In the depths of winter, it's pleasant to take a vacation in sunnier climes, and the Caribbean isn't all of that far away from Maryland.  This year we decided to sail the Spanish Main on Windstar's Star Pride, a small ship holding about two hundred passengersSpanish_main_col_sj_1_25_20.

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We started with a two day pre-cruise extension in Panama City, which was founded in 1519 and was the headquarters for Spain's conquest of Peru.  It's at the Pacific end of the Panama Canal, which is one of the great engineering feats of history.  Here's a picture of a ship passing through the canal, protected by very sturdy fencing!

Our ship sailed from Colon, at the Atlantic end of the canal and also a major port.  From there we went to Cartagena in Colombia, founded in 1533 and a key port for sending all the stolen treasure back to Spain.  We took a carriage ride through the old city, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site.  The carriages hold four passengers, and the horses IMG_5056looked healthy.  Ours had just been splashed with water to cool IMG_5066him from the tropical heat.

The old city is very lovely, and the narrow streets with flower decked balconies reminded me of New Orleans.  The old cathedral is in the heart of the district and really beautiful. 

 

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Cartagena is perhaps best known in modern popular culture as the setting for the climax of the movie Romancing the Stone.  I believe the filming was done in Mexico, but the fortress of San Felipe is very real and IMPRESSIVE! 

Standing in front of the fort is this statue of Admiral IMG_5097 Blas de Lezo, the commanding officer of the fort who repelled a British invasion in 1741.  He was one of the great military heroes of Colonial Spain, and as the statue shows, he was missing a leg, and arm, an eye, and he had only partial use of his right arm.  He wore his wounds proudly and refused to cover his blind eye.  He died several months after the invasion, but his legacy lives on. 

IMG_5086However, our guide said that de Lezo was repelling that terrible British pirate, Sir Francis Drake.  While Drake had an unsuccessful go at Cartagena, he died in 1596, so he didn't face Admiral de Lezo.  The British attack in 1741,was led by Admiral Vernon.  It did make me question some of the guide's other facts. <G>

To the left is a picture of the old city wall: worn and weathered, but still standing!

Next stop was Santa Marta, the oldest surviving city in Colombia and a substantial port.  We took an overview tour of the city and were treated to an outdoor dance IMG_5139 performance by three talented young couples.  The young women kept altering their costumes and the dances got faster and faster. Fun!

Simon Bolivar, the great military and political liberator of Latin America, died in Santa Marta.  Born in Venezuala, he took advantage of Spain's disarray during the Napoleonic years to lead Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Panama to independence.  At the age of 18, he married a beautiful young woman in Spain, and was widowed within the year.  He swore never to marry again, a vow he kept, and said that if she hadn't died, he would not have become El Libertador.

Then we sailed on to Santa Domingo, founded in 1496.  It's the capital of the IMG_5170 Dominican Republic and the oldest continually inhabited European city in the Americas.  It also has a population around three million, and the worst traffic I've seen since visiting Cairo many years ago!  (Though to be fair, I didn't see any camels or donkey carts in the traffic jams in Santa Domingo.) 

We visited the justly famed national Botanical Gardens, but it took an hour long journey of dystopian awfulness in each direction.  The guide said that if anyone figured out a way to solve the traffic problems would be celebrated as a hero for life.  That was one statement I believed!

IMG_5112There were two sea days on this cruise, which the Mayhem Consultant and I love!  Sun and sea, reading and napping and eating. Perfect for recharging personal batteries.  It also gave us time to appreciate the towel animals our cabin stewardess left for us to admire afterIMG_5149 dinner.  Like most cruise ships, a large number of the crew members are from Indonesia and the Philippines.  There are schools in both countries to train students to work in the cruise trade.  And one of the classes must be for making towel animals. <G>

After a half day visit to a sun and sand island, we sailed to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and flew home.  The island still hasn't fully recovered from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, but they've made great IMG_5183progress.  I've visited San Juan several times in the past and am very fond of the island and the people, so I wish them well, and hope for no more ghastly hurricanes or earthquakes!  Here's a picture I took sailing into San Juan at dawn.

If you're from the US or Canada, have you had a chance to visit the historic riches of our Latin neighbors to the south?  Would you like to visit there?  If so, what countries and cities would you most like to see?

Mary Jo, born traveler

 

 

55 thoughts on “Sailing the Spanish Main!”

  1. The moment you mentioned Cartegana, I thought of the horse in Jo Beverley’s “Scandalous Countess.” There must have been a later victory (or another Cartegana) because the horse was named after a victory.
    Again, i thank you for the armchair tour.

    Reply
  2. The moment you mentioned Cartegana, I thought of the horse in Jo Beverley’s “Scandalous Countess.” There must have been a later victory (or another Cartegana) because the horse was named after a victory.
    Again, i thank you for the armchair tour.

    Reply
  3. The moment you mentioned Cartegana, I thought of the horse in Jo Beverley’s “Scandalous Countess.” There must have been a later victory (or another Cartegana) because the horse was named after a victory.
    Again, i thank you for the armchair tour.

    Reply
  4. The moment you mentioned Cartegana, I thought of the horse in Jo Beverley’s “Scandalous Countess.” There must have been a later victory (or another Cartegana) because the horse was named after a victory.
    Again, i thank you for the armchair tour.

    Reply
  5. The moment you mentioned Cartegana, I thought of the horse in Jo Beverley’s “Scandalous Countess.” There must have been a later victory (or another Cartegana) because the horse was named after a victory.
    Again, i thank you for the armchair tour.

    Reply
  6. I want to learn how to make towel animals! Maybe they could be adapted for napkins. Did you see one of a chicken? I would do that for my guests.

    Reply
  7. I want to learn how to make towel animals! Maybe they could be adapted for napkins. Did you see one of a chicken? I would do that for my guests.

    Reply
  8. I want to learn how to make towel animals! Maybe they could be adapted for napkins. Did you see one of a chicken? I would do that for my guests.

    Reply
  9. I want to learn how to make towel animals! Maybe they could be adapted for napkins. Did you see one of a chicken? I would do that for my guests.

    Reply
  10. I want to learn how to make towel animals! Maybe they could be adapted for napkins. Did you see one of a chicken? I would do that for my guests.

    Reply
  11. Thanks for an enjoyable post, Mary Jo! I’ve never been on a cruise; however, I did travel by ship as a child when we moved from Australia to Guam. If there were any stops, I’ve totally forgotten them. I lived in Jamaica for a year as a teen. It’s a popular cruise destination…but I flew there!
    There are a couple of cruise ships very much in the news these days; I think I’ll happily stay ashore guys the time being.

    Reply
  12. Thanks for an enjoyable post, Mary Jo! I’ve never been on a cruise; however, I did travel by ship as a child when we moved from Australia to Guam. If there were any stops, I’ve totally forgotten them. I lived in Jamaica for a year as a teen. It’s a popular cruise destination…but I flew there!
    There are a couple of cruise ships very much in the news these days; I think I’ll happily stay ashore guys the time being.

    Reply
  13. Thanks for an enjoyable post, Mary Jo! I’ve never been on a cruise; however, I did travel by ship as a child when we moved from Australia to Guam. If there were any stops, I’ve totally forgotten them. I lived in Jamaica for a year as a teen. It’s a popular cruise destination…but I flew there!
    There are a couple of cruise ships very much in the news these days; I think I’ll happily stay ashore guys the time being.

    Reply
  14. Thanks for an enjoyable post, Mary Jo! I’ve never been on a cruise; however, I did travel by ship as a child when we moved from Australia to Guam. If there were any stops, I’ve totally forgotten them. I lived in Jamaica for a year as a teen. It’s a popular cruise destination…but I flew there!
    There are a couple of cruise ships very much in the news these days; I think I’ll happily stay ashore guys the time being.

    Reply
  15. Thanks for an enjoyable post, Mary Jo! I’ve never been on a cruise; however, I did travel by ship as a child when we moved from Australia to Guam. If there were any stops, I’ve totally forgotten them. I lived in Jamaica for a year as a teen. It’s a popular cruise destination…but I flew there!
    There are a couple of cruise ships very much in the news these days; I think I’ll happily stay ashore guys the time being.

    Reply
  16. A wise idea just now, Kareni! I have friends who do a lot of cruising, and they were booked on a far eastern cruise that would start in Hong Kong, to leave in a couple of months. The cruise company has canceled Hong Kong and moved the start to Singapore, and who knows what else might happen? I think they’re going to cancel. My sympathies are with those who are trapped on a ships now because of the coronavirus.

    Reply
  17. A wise idea just now, Kareni! I have friends who do a lot of cruising, and they were booked on a far eastern cruise that would start in Hong Kong, to leave in a couple of months. The cruise company has canceled Hong Kong and moved the start to Singapore, and who knows what else might happen? I think they’re going to cancel. My sympathies are with those who are trapped on a ships now because of the coronavirus.

    Reply
  18. A wise idea just now, Kareni! I have friends who do a lot of cruising, and they were booked on a far eastern cruise that would start in Hong Kong, to leave in a couple of months. The cruise company has canceled Hong Kong and moved the start to Singapore, and who knows what else might happen? I think they’re going to cancel. My sympathies are with those who are trapped on a ships now because of the coronavirus.

    Reply
  19. A wise idea just now, Kareni! I have friends who do a lot of cruising, and they were booked on a far eastern cruise that would start in Hong Kong, to leave in a couple of months. The cruise company has canceled Hong Kong and moved the start to Singapore, and who knows what else might happen? I think they’re going to cancel. My sympathies are with those who are trapped on a ships now because of the coronavirus.

    Reply
  20. A wise idea just now, Kareni! I have friends who do a lot of cruising, and they were booked on a far eastern cruise that would start in Hong Kong, to leave in a couple of months. The cruise company has canceled Hong Kong and moved the start to Singapore, and who knows what else might happen? I think they’re going to cancel. My sympathies are with those who are trapped on a ships now because of the coronavirus.

    Reply
  21. I like cruising, but so far we have had only a week at a time to spend, so we haven’t been able to go to all the areas you mentioned. Thanks for a lovely description of your journey.

    Reply
  22. I like cruising, but so far we have had only a week at a time to spend, so we haven’t been able to go to all the areas you mentioned. Thanks for a lovely description of your journey.

    Reply
  23. I like cruising, but so far we have had only a week at a time to spend, so we haven’t been able to go to all the areas you mentioned. Thanks for a lovely description of your journey.

    Reply
  24. I like cruising, but so far we have had only a week at a time to spend, so we haven’t been able to go to all the areas you mentioned. Thanks for a lovely description of your journey.

    Reply
  25. I like cruising, but so far we have had only a week at a time to spend, so we haven’t been able to go to all the areas you mentioned. Thanks for a lovely description of your journey.

    Reply
  26. In Spanish Club many years ago, we learned a little ditty about Cartagena, which I can still sing! “Cartagena, Cartagena, tiene mar, Cartagena tiene mar…”

    Reply
  27. In Spanish Club many years ago, we learned a little ditty about Cartagena, which I can still sing! “Cartagena, Cartagena, tiene mar, Cartagena tiene mar…”

    Reply
  28. In Spanish Club many years ago, we learned a little ditty about Cartagena, which I can still sing! “Cartagena, Cartagena, tiene mar, Cartagena tiene mar…”

    Reply
  29. In Spanish Club many years ago, we learned a little ditty about Cartagena, which I can still sing! “Cartagena, Cartagena, tiene mar, Cartagena tiene mar…”

    Reply
  30. In Spanish Club many years ago, we learned a little ditty about Cartagena, which I can still sing! “Cartagena, Cartagena, tiene mar, Cartagena tiene mar…”

    Reply

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