22 December 2004
Cartagena de Indias, Colombia N 10.2472 W 075.3249
Christmas in Cartagena
After a great deal of decorating throughout the city and especially in the old town, Advent season started with a downtown concert. A youth orchestra played for about an hour and then were joined by a youth choir of angelic looking children wearing red hats trimmed in white fur. This concert was given at the Plaza San Diego where the Hotel Santa Clara dominates the square. At the end of the concert the hotel graciously served real drinks and very decorative hor d'oures. The plaza was full of children lighting advent candles bringing them to a platform that spelled out Felice Navidad. Now can you imagine a US insurance carrier talking to the Hotel Santa Clara saying, "Okay so you want to pass out a thousand or so candles for children to play with and after that serve alcoholic drinks to anyone well dressed enough to be allowed into the square. "
Following the lighting of the candles and the Christmas carols the tradition is to have a family dinner to be served at midnight. Unseen by the occupants of Shiraz was the candle light parades to local churches starting at 0400 the next morning. Needless to say Monday was a holiday and almost every store and business was closed.
Christmas is of course a major event in this predominately Catholic country. Full size Santa Claus mannikins wave their hands and sing Christmas carols in English. There is an abundance of these bearded guys around in restaurants, department stores, grocery stores and other small shops. Reindeer are not apparent so the poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas" by Clement Clarke Moore (published in 1823) has not influenced the Colombian celebration
About twice a week during the season the Ministry of Culture and Arts puts on a concert in one of the local plazas. The beautiful plazas enhance the wonderful musicians and the well behaved crowd shows a great amount of appreciation for these events.
A bit of bad news or good news.
Our twenty year old cat has abandoned ship. During the last few voyages "Kitty" has refused to eat and now that we are planning on making longer and longer passages we were very concerned about her welfare. It took her weeks to recover from our last six day trip. Thanks to Mavis, sister of Candelaria the marina owner, we were able to place "Kitty" in a very nice home in Cartagena. The house has a courtyard and she won't have to worry about falling in the water. We, on the other hand, will not have to worry about cat crap all over the boat each morning. We understand that she is enrolled in emersion Spanish lessons and that she may in fact change her name to Gabriela Maria Cortina Rodriquez Lopez.
Kitty has been our companion for twenty years and in the twilight of her years she seems to enjoy a slow pace of living this close to the equator.