Tierra del Fuego — OLD TOWN Cartagena, Colombia 16 November 2018 MILES: 1,176 Two days ago 11,000 tourists, from cruise ships, descended upon Cartagena. Yesterday Octavio and I did a walk-about, both inside and outside the old walled city. Although we passed a few, we never encountered the hoards that I had anticipated. Anonymously, they blended into the crowds, absorbed by the sights and sounds of Old Town. Octavio led me on a walking tour. In the tree-shaded parks we spotted iguanas hiding amongst the branches, and tiny monkeys jumping from limb to limb. His purpose was both to show me such things, but also to run errands — both for himself and for me. Around every corner, it seemed, we encountered someone he knew, soliciting an embrace or a hand shake, and a few pleasant words. Cars, taxis, and pedestrians performed a delicate dance, coming close to but not touching one-another The streets in most places were packed with cars, pedestrians, and vendors sprawled out on the sidewalks offering goods: hats, purses, trinkets, fruits, drinks, grilled food, and so on. In the boutique shops more upscale items were on sale, and services: drug stores, beauty parlors, barber shops, Internet cafes, restaurants, jewelry, and so on. Anything you wanted, or didn’t know that you wanted until spotting it, could be found, it seemed. In several places bougainvilleas and other flowering plants arched across the road from balconies, perched high above the people below, offering beauty and shade. One street that he led me down was different. A “wide” avenue (by comparison) had few walkers or vehicles. It was where the rich, “from Bogota” lived, he explained. There, behind immense doors with decorative door-knockers, and barred windows, were their vacation homes. Inside, he said, were immense yards and old palatial colonial homes, built by the Spanish centuries ago. We walked atop the old embattlement walls, thick and imposing, with empty openings for cannons to fend-off invading English pirates. Now those cannon holes are used by picnicking families for shade during the day, and by lovers at night, for privacy. ‘We bought cups of coffee, and sat on the sidewalk to enjoy the drinks. We ate from the vendors: cone-shaped yucca delicacies filled with a meat, and “Oro de miel” (golden honey) pineapple slices, which left my mouth watering for more. Both of us drank copious amounts of water, as it was a day that left (at least) me sweating profusely. And throughout the day we accomplished our errands, somehow. It’s one thing to hire a guide when exploring the Old Town, as many of the tourists did. It’s quite another experience to have someone who lives there, a friend, take the time to do so. I’ve been very lucky to have Octavio, to show me the place from his perspective, as an insider.