Walk Through Old Town with a Member of the Zenu Tribe

This morning our guide picked us up at our hotel and then introduced us to a member of the Zenu tribe.  We walked through the streets to the Gold Museum where the guide explained the history of the Zenu Tribe and various related objects we saw. Colombia has more indigenous cultures than any other country and the Zenu is one of the most important.  The tribe makes the sombrero vueltiao (turned hat) used by farmers and the people who live in the countryside.  The hat is very flexible and has a beautiful design and most importantly is excellent protection from the sun.  The fibers are made from a local cane that grows along the coast. It takes the Zenu Tribe member as long as one month to create these works of art.

The guide and the Zenu Tribal person in front of the museum.
The Sombreros Vueltiaos found in the market place. There are a lot of fakes as the real ones cost from $30 to $50 depending on the design.

Walking through the streets I took this picture of the cathedral and later discovered it is a quite popular view of the church.  We had a chance to peek inside the next morning.

Cartagena Cathedral
These ladies did not want their picture taken but I took it before they said “no”.
Beautiful entrance to the sanctuary.
The main sanctuary of the church.

After we went to the museum, we continued walking through the streets.  I am not sure where we were going, but we came upon a building and as we were standing there, this little man came out and started haranguing our guide about his credentials. He kept asking why our guide was there showing us around. We should have just left but our guide kept arguing with him and the man said he was calling the “tourist police”.  We started walking away but then the police came and they started talking to our guide so we waited down the street with the lady guide and the Zenu tribe member.  The result was a wait of about 45 minutes and our guide received some kind of ticket and fine.  After that, the Zenu Tribe member left with the lady guide and our guide took us to a coffee shop.  He didn’t really say anything to us, but just got on his cell talking to the company, I imagine. We had something to drink and I ordered our guide a coffee.  We went upstairs to enjoy the view but the guide remained downstairs on his cell. It was all very strange.  After that, we returned to our hotel and decided we would go to lunch on our own.  I think we were finished with “guides”!  He did say he would meet us at 2 pm to take us to the Museo Del Cacao (chocolate museum).

The man in the front was the one who called the police. Our guide and the two tourist police are behind him.

On Our Own for lunch

We had a short rest at the hotel and then took a taxi to a restaurant called, “La Cevicheria”.  The night before, along with our guide, we tried to get into the restaurant. It was packed with no chance to get a table. It was actually made famous by Anthony Bourdain when he traveled there during one of his television shows. We arrive very early around 10:30 am, so took the opportunity to walk around and take more photos. Here are a few photos we took around the area.

Friendly hat seller who spoke some English.
Fish on “La Cevicheria” outside wall.
I love this photo I captured. She stands out against the orange wall.

We walked quite a bit and even walked out of the walled city toward the water. We came upon the colonial structure called Las Bovedas.

The construction of the walls of Cartagena was an effort mounted to defend the city from possible pirate attacks. The construction lasted for two centuries and finally ended in 1796.
Las Bovedas – It was originally constructed as a munitions storehouse and wound up being a dungeon in the Wars of Independence. A popular tourist attraction due to the artisan craft market that occupies the former cells. Las Bovedas is a lovely example of Cartagena’s colorful, historical architecture.

This is a photo of the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, one of the largest Spanish colonial fortresses ever built.  The fort stood strong against several attempts of attacks and was always successfully defended. We went there the first afternoon but I was too tired to walk in the hot sun.  We had been up since 5 am and I was worn out but Shawn was game so he went with the guide. They didn’t really investigate the known hidden passages but just walked around the top while the guide explained the history.

The Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas.

It was just about time for the restaurant to open so we returned only to find out that they did not have any electricity consequently, we would have to eat outside and there was also little choice of food.  It was already very hot so we decided to look for another place to have our lunch. We found a “cool” restaurant down one of the side streets and had ceviche (raw fish or seafood dish marinated in lime).  Lucky for us, the Chocolate Museum was right next door so we waited for our guide.  He finally arrived and then we found out that it was the wrong Chocolate Museum.  We were supposed to have a private session of making chocolates but then we decided to stay where we were and join another family.  The kids were from Missouri and the dad from Colombia. We listened to a lecture in a very hot room all about the cocoa bean.  Happily, the instructor spoke very good English so he finished quickly and we then went to an air-conditioned room to make several kinds of drinks using the cocoa bean.

Ceviche originated during colonial times in Peru and is widely eaten in many South American countries. This was pretty good but I have eaten better in Peru.
The Choco Museum and two of the instructors.
Cocoa beans (also spelled cacao) growing on a tree.
Our instructor who taught us about making hot chocolate, cocoa tea and chocolate candy.

Read the next and final blog about our candy-making experience and saying good-by to Cartagena.


One thought

  1. ‘Loved the women in their colorful clothes. I could see the one woman who put up her hand to stop you…Oh well. It was amusing to read this blog after hearing you tell about the trip and your guides while we sisters were together 😉 last week. Thanks for sharing your photos and commentary, Dianne.


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