So we’ve been living on the sea for the past eight months. And life was good. But once we arrived in Colombia, it was time to go ashore and try life on land for awhile. Skipper Paul was kind enough to let us stay on his boat until the craziness of Festival Week subsided, but once the locals returned to work…so did we.
Alyson and I took to the streets everyday in search of the perfect accomodations. And while hostels are overly abundant and accomodating in Cartagena, we wanted something a little more unique. Ideally we had in mind a nice little apartment overlooking some scenic downtown plaza. Our friends say that “we have Champagne tastes on a beer budget”, but everyone has to have a dream.
Its really quite difficult arriving in a new place and trying to find a place to settle down. Cartagena’s streets are a labyrinth of alleyways and narrow corridors, and the midday heat was exhausting. Not to mention that we have no car and no phone. Its not easy, but we were determined.
We visited a few rentals. Some were high end and some were more economical. We ended up looking at a few high end apartments as the rent listed in the ads and the “actual” rent were off by a few zero’s behind the cost! But while we were there it was nice to imagine living in such a posh, clean, and cool place. It turned out that our timing for renting long term could not have been worse. Cartagena is a touristic city and it’s seasons are high from November to January. In these few months most of the businesses make up to 80% of their yearly income! Especially for renters. We found that Cartagena offered almost every type and level of accomodations. In fact, during the high seasons most condos, apartments, houses, mansions, rooms, and any other type of living quarters are rented by the day. Thus if you were on a vacation there are endless alternatives to staying at the typical chain hotel ( though they have really nice ones as well).
We found that the prices varied extremely as well. A high end, furnished two bedroom apartment in the center of town will go between $1000-2000 a month. This was a bit too high for us, and wishing they would of said as much in the beggining of the 2 hour tour, we grit our teeth and headed back out into the heat.
Over the next couple of days we managed to look at a few more places, and one of Alyson’s favorite was a studio flat overlooking the lush San Fernando Plaza. She negotiated the price down from $1500 to $750 a month. We both loved the view, but the building was basically gutted and for the price the quality was low. We were considerding biting the bullet and going for it when our luck changed dramatically for the better.
Our friends Giancarlo and Luisa met us at the marina that night to give us some encouraging news. They had met an Italian boat owner who was looking for someone to boat sit for him while he flew back to Italy for two weeks. Since he was leaving early the next morning we all rushed over to meet him. The skipper, Edoardo, was very agreeable and soon we struck up a deal. In exchange for a free place to live for two weeks, Alyson and I would take care of his boat and do some cleaning and small repairs. So thanks to Giancarlo and Luisa we wound up living aboard the luxury charter yacht “Buon Vento”.
We spent the next few weeks living in style. In the mornings we would do some chores. Alyson cleaned the mildew which had formed on the ceiling and walls. John fixed some broken head pumps and serviced the winches. Boat sitting is definitely a great way to live economically. Especially, if the boat is in the marina which means unlimited water and electricity. It was amazing. We were taking three cold showers a day! Such a change from one every couple of days. Here are a few more shots from our caviar lifestyle:
Eventually, two weeks came to an end. Edoardo returned from Italy and it was time for us to move on again. We will miss the caviar lifestyle now that we are back on our beer budget. Although street vendor hotdogs are pretty good here.
Currently we are staying in hostel “Casa Valda” in the old city. Normally the rent is 70,000 Pesos with airconditioning and a private bathroom. We were able to negotiate the price down to 50,000 Pesos which is roughly $25 US dollars per night.
Oh and yes, every room gets a painting of a woman, we’ve seen others but ours is by far the most bouxum.
Its quaint and nice, but if anyone knows of a boat that needs watching for a few weeks…please let us know.