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 passengers.
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 looked healthy. Ours had just been splashed with water to cool him 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.