It seemed like a good idea yesterday when some of us were discussing how hard some diets were. Then someone said, "Well, you can do anything for a couple of weeks." I think that someone was me, and before I knew it I had been challenged to stay on the South Beach Diet for a week. Yuck! There goes all the things I like to eat like fruit and scones and sandwiches. So here was my breakfast: vegetable juice with a mushroom and asparagus omelet. About 268 calories in all. This may be harder than I thought.
There are still cannons mounted in the turrets of these walls. In Cartagena, I took a cab to the old city and explored on my own. It was filled with the usual vendors selling things you really have no use for, but the city was extremely clean. I visited the home of Saint Peter Claver, a Jesuit priest who ministered to the African slaves. It seems that Cartagena was a "hub" for the slave trade. St. Claver's remains are on display in the church which was rather grisly since he does not fit into the category of saints called 'the incorruptibles."
What a phenomenal sight! One amazing fact is that over a billion gallons of fresh water is released into the ocean each time a ship passes through the canal. If it weren't for the fact that Panama gets so much rain, there wouldn't be a canal at all. The canal that is under construction will recycle 60% of the water. I took too many pictures to load here, but they are on my Flickr. photo sight if you want to see them all. http://www.flickr.com/photos/toni33et/
Here I took a tour of a refuge for animals that were confiscated from people trying to smuggle them out of the country illegally. That would be mainly red macaws, but the preserve also had blue macaws, sloths, a tapir, and various other birds. You weren't supposed to interact with the birds because they were hoping to reintroduce them into the wild but as you can see from the pictures the released birds liked hanging with people. A red macaw egg supposedly bring $5000 in the states. I'm wondering if that is really true.
This quiet little village is what the Mexicans hope to turn into the Cancun of the Pacific shore. For now it is just a rather unspoiled, non commercial place. The humidity was extremely heavy here and after buying a box of cough drops at the local farmacia I returned to the ship. Here is probably the place to mention that two days before my trip began I woke up with a horrible sore throat and feeling yucky. There was no way I was missing this trip, sick or otherwise so I was pushing it a bit. My roommate felt ill and went down to "sick bay" where they threatened to put her off the ship if she didn't do what they said which was to have IV's put in and all kinds of anitbiotics; so I wasn't admitting to feeling unwell to anybody.