One of the upsides of being on a cruise ship is having breakfast on an outside deck, surrounded by sea and mountains in the distance. One of the downsides is visiting ports you normally would not want to visit.
Cartagena has a lot of history but little to show for it. It was founded by (surprise!) Carthaginians. Romans had been here, of course, and ever the builders, left behind the structures necessary for the civilized life of any average Roman citizen, now lying in ruins. The Moors had been here too but hardly left any traces.
This town is part of the government’s effort to restore portal cities and turn them into tourist attractions. I commend their efforts but hold little hope for Cartagena as a future tourist destination. Most of the buildings in the city are still decrepit but there is a lot of construction going on. Admirably, the original facades are being preserved and they look out with hollow windows at the streets having lost their entire viscera.
The problem with Cartagena is that even though it can be proud of several isolated Modernist buildings, they are few among modern cinderblock boxes. There is also something wrong with the city’s layout, the way the streets turn and how the plazas are created. This town has a hopelessly provincial air and I doubt it could be fixed even with total restoration.
So if I were to make a scale against which we rate all cities, where Venice is 10 and Constanza is 1, Cartagena is 1.5.
Back to the outside deck to uplift my spirits.


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