Cartagena – the epic conquest

I have a secret to tell you. Well, if you’re reading this blog, then I’m sure you know already, but there is a game I played constantly when I was about 13 years old, Sid

I have a secret to tell you. Well, if you’re reading this blog, then I’m sure you know already, but there is a game I played constantly when I was about 13 years old, Sid Meier’s Pirates! I played it so much that once my computer (C64) gave up and said “illegal quantity error” because of all the gold I got at the hardest difficulty level. So having visited Saint Martin, the decent Dutch city, and Trinidad, the Spains that were always friendly to you (because they were so poor), it was awesome to arrive in Cartagena today. Together with cities like Panama and Havana, it was the shit. Tons of forts and soldiers there to protect their gold and silver. Yes, I have plundered this city still, with my fleet of hungry pirates. I don’t remember if I ever changed the governor though. Maybe once or twice.

I had booked a hotel on this street, in Getsemani, which is right south of the old town and used to be where all the slaves used to live. Now, gentrified. I slept so well on the bus, that they had to wake me up when we arrived. It was great to get the seats in the very back, some tiny extra leg space that made me dream like a god. We were quite far from the city centre, so entering the city was what in Pirates! is known as a “land attack”. You don’t do the sailing up their forts, but simply control your soldiers in the terrain, against their soldiers.

There were so many taxis, and just motorcycles with extra helmets. It was like “taxi, taxi, taxi”. I suddenly starting hating all men with motors. Man + motor = end of our planet. A bit simplified, yes, but that’s how I felt. So I searched for a bus station, and after one minute, the bus came with “centro” written on it. I stopped it, payed less than a euro, and then sat with the 80% women. Also driven by a man+motor, of course, but a motor that we shared 20 people. Women have always been better at saving a bit of money on spending more time, and the ironic thing is that when we all do that, we actually get a lot of time – with little money – as the collectively practical public options grow and takes us all by rail instead of filling up streets in cars.

It’s a little bit like a prisoner’s dilemma: in any situation, the best for everyone is to go by car. But when everybody goes by car, they destroy for each other, and for the public (since the few people in public aren’t many enough for trains). So the government needs to go in and apply prices that internalizes the cost of your traffic. Taxes. And/or subsidized public transport. Or prioritized bus lanes like in Bogotá. I think none of this existed in Cartagena, since we, “the poor” (or dedicated) are sitting in an effective bus that is squeezed in by all Men With Motors ™. After an hour or so, of twitching left, right, south, north, we come to the grand old palace, the one that I have mounted so many times as 13 years old, and now see in live for the first time. I live pretty close from there, so I got off the bus, took a long and dedicated look, and walked home.

Here’s my room! I haven’t had my own private room since in Lima, Peru. What a fantastic feeling! I just wanted to lie on that bed and spend all my time on the Internetz. Unfortunately, the WiFi inside the room was shit, so I had to sit downstairs with the people there. Met a nice German and a nice Uruguayan. Went to the sailing company and paid some money. Had to go to a cash machine and withdraw tons of money. Scary. Had beans and peas for dinner. Passed out.

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