The past few days in Cartagena, Colombia have been a little slower-paced for us than the first few, now that we have the major tourist attractions out of the way. We switched apartments to Edificio Palmetto, which has a pool and an ocean view that has brought us some fabulous sunsets. We’ve also spent more time swimming, since the girls can’t seem to get enough of it. One day, I even got a massage at the spa one day, and Jen got a facial. Ahh vacation…
Emily had her 7th birthday over the weekend, and we turned the day over to her to do whatever she wanted. We don’t have a lot of room in our luggage for large toys, which is fine, because what she wanted most was a new dress and swimming suit, which she picked quickly and looks really cute in. We also went to the beach for a few hours, which was quite crowded and hot, but the girls had a blast playing in the water. After the beach, we went back to our apartment and played Go-Fish, built card houses, played stuffed animals, and then had some chocolate cake at a nearby Italian restaurant. I guess the day was a success because afterward she said that she wishes every day could be her birthday. Thanks everyone for all the birthday wishes – she really appreciated them.
Isla Rosario and Playa Blanca Tours
Whenever you ask which beach is the best in Cartagena, people almost always refer to Playa Blanca, which is on the Rosario islands, about an hour and a half boat ride from Cartagena. This is the tour many people try to sell you on the street. The pictures I’ve seen show a lovely Caribbean beach with blue-green waters and white sand – a true tropical paradise like many dream of. However, it also looks like the place is crawling with tourists, may have no facilities, and usually costs $20+/person to get there. So call us boring or lazy or cheap, but we didn’t go. Did we pass up the trip of a lifetime? I don’t think so. We’ve seen lots of pretty beaches in our lives already, and will surely visit others that are even more beautiful and secluded, with more time to spend there and enjoy than just a quick day trip. It probably would have been fun, but we just weren’t in the mood.
Yellow Fever and Free Vaccinations
So, we haven’t ventured much outside of Boca Grande and old town since we got here. But we did go to a medical clinic in Getsemaní for yellow fever vaccinations. We were told before we boarded the plane to Colombia that we wouldn’t be able to get back into Costa Rica without an international certificate stating that we’d been immunized for yellow fever, since we’re going to three countries that have infected areas (even though we won’t be visiting any of the infected parts of these countries). I tried to find a way out of this, since I hate vaccinations, and think they can sometimes do more harm than good. I often end up getting more sick from the vaccine than I would get from the actual disease, and I didn’t want to spend a week of my trip in bed or throwing up. Plus, the last shot I got must have hit a nerve in my arm because it was sore for two weeks and felt like it took months to fully recover. I do NOT like shots.
Anyway, it turns out we’d need the vaccine to get into Ecuador anyway, since we’d be coming from Peru. And it’s required to get into Brazil regardless of where you’ve been, and we’d like to go there before too long. So we decided to go ahead with it. Fortunately, Colombia offers yellow fever vaccines for free (yeah! Glad we didn’t pay several hundred dollars to get it done in the states last year!) No appointment necessary. We just walked into the clinic and had it done. Although we came late in the day and they only had one vaccine left, so Jen was our guinea pig (thanks for being brave Jen!). We came back early the next day to do the rest of us. It was the “best” shot I’ve ever had, too. Only stung for about 1 second, and absolutely no pain after that. Yay. The girls handled it as well as could be expected.
Crepes & Waffles
We also found a new favorite restaurant in Boca Grande, which we’ve been to four times now. It’s called Crepes & Waffles and has the most delectable menu for lunches, dinners, and desserts! Their website also shows a breakfast menu, but it must only be available at other locations. But I’m pleased to learn that they have locations in Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Spain, Panama, and Brazil, so hopefully we’ll get to eat there again.
Tomorrow we head out for Lima, Peru!
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Beach Clubs, Projects, and Kids
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Emily looks so cute in her new dress and swimming suit. Glad I was able to get the blackberry stain out of it from the Crepes & Waffles tonight. That place is heaven on earth in the form of a restaurant.
Love the free vaccinations!! The girls really were quite brave. Emily only ran away from the needle a few times, and Marie was ambushed by the needle while her attention was diverted elsewhere.
You, Brandon, were quite brave yourself. Especially considering your previous battles with the enemy.
I certainly win the distinguished honor of being the guinea pig. It allowed me to breathe a bit easier, knowing I wouldn’t have to carry my anxiety through until the next morning. :)
Yeah, it was really cute seeing Emily try to “relax” like I did so the shot wouldn’t hurt, but then when she saw the needle, she ran away. lol. Thanks for showing us how it’s done. And I’m glad the stain came out as well. Those were some crepes!!
Glorious sunsets!! Beautiful girls. Wonderful time.
Glad Emily’s birthday was a success. And glad you got free vaccinations. I’m with you, Brandon. I never get flu shots (and never get the flu… last time I had a flue shot I DID get the flu) and think that something that is painful, questionable and yet required really ought to be free.
BTW, that white bird looks like a heron. And Emily looks like a happy mermaid in the water :)
Yes, I’m the same way with flu shots. If I get the shot, I usually get the flu. If I don’t get the shot, I stay healthy. So I never get the shot anymore. I wonder how much good they really do.
I always hated shots, too. (Now I give myself 4 a day.)
The flu shot is an interesting bird (no pun intended). I get the seasonal shot every year for the last several. As I get older and due to diabetes its recommended, so I comply. (Though I fought it for a while.) I finally had a healthcare worker admit that the shot can indeed make one sick, but less so that the real thing.
The President of my current company is a medical doctor by training (though he never practiced medicine). He does a nice letter to the company each year explaining why the company pays for flu shots and why they are important. Part of the reason we have avoided the big epidemics in recent decades is because of what is called “herd immunity” — basically, the more people who are immunized, the less chance the disease has to spread. So even though an individual may not get symptoms due to their personal makeup, they might get a mild case and transmit it to someone who has a weakened immune system or other condition that makes them more vulnerable. So while one might not get sick by not having the vaccination, they raise the risk for the spread of the disease which may lead to serious complications for someone else.
I’m glad you are experiencing the benefits of civilized healthcare. (Healthcare should be infrastructure, like our national highway system, everyone gets access and everyone pays into its funding.)
Enjoy your adventures.
Interesting info about the purpose of flu shots. I like to think I’m one with a strong immune system, but who knows – maybe it’s super weak. I wonder what natural ways there are to strengthen your immune system other than injections. (ie. good diet and exercise?) Maybe if we could get the entire world onto a program like that, there would be no need for vaccinations of any kind! lol.
Beautiful pictures. I so miss sunsets. We can’t see them for the trees. Looks like great times.
BTW, never had a flu snot, never had the flu.
Yes, I’ve missed the sunsets at our house Costa Rica, too. But trees definitely have their own beauty. Thanks for the comment.
Oh my word. Breathtakingly beautiful! Thank you so much for posting the pictures. Emily and Marie are looking gorgeous, as usual. Emily is looking more and more like you :)
Yeah, Emily does look a lot like me. People here see the resemblance, too. Although they also think Emily and Marie are twins (we hear that a LOT), so I’m not sure how that works out.
me gustan las fotos de EMILY