October 25, 2013
The safest city in the world.
Hi folks, from Cartagena, Colombia!
You may be puzzled why this particular city in South America suddenly became the safest on the planet… Read on…
Ohhh how HOT it is here, but worse – it’s INSANELY humid too. But then it would be: from September through December here it’s the rain season. If you go out onto the street for as little as 10 minutes you literally end up drenched with sweat! You kinda just get used to it after the first day here, but at first it’s… most unusual and uncomfortable, to say the least.
Inside, with a/c on, of course things are different, but then I’m told you can easily catch a cold with all the extreme changes of temperature and humidity. Must say, it is odd how when you open the balcony window condensation swiftly forms on the ceiling, which collects into drops, and which then fall unpredictably onto the old loaf!
Kinda Havana – but with a few a licks of paint since 1953; and a super strong A.Sh. nonchalantly waving a barrier around :)
Our hotel (the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara) needs a special mention of its own.
It’s built into the half-ruined walls of a convent that dates back to 1630 or thereabouts. Crikey. They don’t make hotel walls that durable any more… The non-convent part of the hotel is of course a modern replica construction (wonder how long it’ll last?!). All around it’s beautiful dense tropical scenery, and in the open-air restaurant a friendly toucan named Mateo tends to hold court daily together with other exotic winged creatures. Less sociable are the hummingbirds – seen only if you look hard into their fave hangouts – the surrounding bushes.
The old town is surrounded by a wall, which the more adventurous can have a go walking along the top of. Such a feat is sure doable – so long as you don’t look down.
Compared with most other cities in this part of the world, Cartagena is rather old – founded in 1533. In the 16th century various corsairs (mostly British) would call in on the city and generally cause much post-medieval havoc. The men were killed, the gold stolen, and… you know the rest. So the Spanish gold was protected within the castle walls along with… the rest. Locals to this day haven’t forgotten about this. But what was Spanish gold doing here in the first place? You don’t get an answer to that one.
Anyway, what are we doing here? And why has Cartagena became the safest city in the world?
Well, we didn’t travel halfway round the globe for a spot of wall walking and history learning. No, we were here for the 82nd General Assembly of INTERPOL. We’re real good friends with INTERPOL, so we couldn’t miss their main annual pow-wow…
Never seen so many police in one place! From something like 190 countries! I especially liked the hosts in their chic Colombian police uniforms! Alas, I didn’t manage to snap them with my camera… however, here’s a consolatory pic of another unique sight:
But we were here not so much for INTERPOL itself, as its efforts in cyberspace. Mind you, distinguishing the two these days is pretty much impossible – since cybercriminals need catching and putting behind bars just like regular criminals. This ‘equanimity’ is long overdue, but at long last it’s arrived. And so here we are – showing participants the way on the cybermap so honest Internet dwellers don’t get messed up by malware and the sick criminals behind child porn can be better targeted.
The rest of the photos are here.
That’s all for today folks. See you soon with more tales from distant shores…