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Saturday, March 31, 2012

JOB RESOURCES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES -- PART 3



THE NATIONAL BUSINESS AND 
DISABILITY COUNCIL & RENSA

The National Business and Disability Council links employers and college graduates with disabilities.

Find it on-line at: www.nbdc.com

RENSA has a wealth of information on technology that can help disabled people achieve top performance at the workplace.

Rehabilitation Engineering And Assistive Technology Society Of North America,1700 North Moore Street, Suite 1540, Arlington, VA 22209-1903

Phone: 703-524-6686 Fax: 703-524-6630

Website: www.resna.org

Friday, March 30, 2012

JOB RESOURCES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES -- PART2



PRESIDENT'S COMMITTEE ON EMPLOYMENT
OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES & 
THE U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION

The President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities site has fact sheets on worksite accommodation.

President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities 1331 F Street, N.W. Ste. 300, Washington D.C. 20004

Phone: 202-376-6205, Fax: 202-376-6219.

Website: www.icdri.org/Employment/pcepd.htm

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, offers technical assistance on the ADA provisions relevant to employment

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 1801 L. Street, NW, Washington, DC 20507

Questions: 1-800-669-4000 (Voice)

Publications: 1-800-669-3362 (Voice)

Website: www.eeoc.gov

RESOURCES CONTINUE TOMORROW -- MARCH 31


Thursday, March 29, 2012

JOB RESOURCES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES -- PART1



THE JOB ACCOMMODATION NETWORK (JAN)

JAN is a service of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.

It is a referral service for:

Job accommodations for people with disabilities

The employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Technical assistance, funding, education, and services related to the employment of people with disabilities.

In addition, JAN analyzes trends and statistical data related to the technical assistance it provides.

Job Accommodation Network, West Virginia University, P.O. Box 6080 Morgantown, WV 26506-6080

1-800-526-7234 (V/TTY)  

 website: www.askjan.org

RESOURCES CONTINUE TOMORROW -- MARCH 30

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

NIAGARA FALLS BY WHEELCHAIR -- PART 8



NIAGARA FALLS ACCESS FOR DISABLED VISITORS

IF YOU GO

(all numbers are in 905 area code):

**Courtyard by Marriott, 5950 Victoria Ave., has three wheelchair-accessible rooms -- each equipped with two queen-sized beds. The barrier-free rooms also feature roll-in showers with hand-held shower wands and grab bars. The accessible rooms have wide doors and sinks that wheelchair users can roll under. Phone 358-3083.

Continental Pancake House, 5810 Stanley Ave., has a ramp at the rear of the breakfast house for access. Phone 354-6661; Sicilian Garden Restaurant, 5501 Ferry St., has great pizzas in a barrier-free setting.. Phone 354-4981; Flying Saucer Restaurant, 6768 Lundy’s Lane, serves up specialties such as Saucer Fries and Jupiter Burgers. Dine curbside or in the ramped, accessible dining area shaped like a space ship. Phone 356-4553.

Niagara Falls is free. There are hundreds of viewing points of the Canadian and American Falls from the manicured parklands on the Canadian side.Phone the Niagara Parks Commission at 356-2241. Skylon Tower, 5200 Robinson St., has access to the observation deck. Phone 356-2651. Criminals Hall of Fame Wax Museum, 5751 Victoria Ave. Phone 374-3011. Casino Niagara, 5705 Falls Ave., offers 24-hour gambling. Phone 374-3598.

For more information, contact Niagara Falls Tourism at 356-6061, or 1-800-56FALLS

Wright is a recipient of the Bronze Medal in the 14th Annual Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition by the Society of American Travel Writers.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

NIAGARA FALLS BY WHEELCHAIR -- PART 7



NIAGARA FALLS ACCESS FOR DISABLED VISITORS

High above the floral parks along the falls, Skylon Tower provides stunning views of the American and Horseshoe falls.

The best viewing is at twilight.

We walked and rolled the short distance from our hotel to the 520-foot tall tower.

On the plus side for disabled guests, Skylon has ramped entrances, wide common areas and excellent elevators to the observation deck

On the down side, only the indoor viewing area of the observation deck is wheelchair accessible.

The breathtaking outdoor viewing area can be reached only be steps.

But even from the glass-enclosed observation deck, Niagara’s pool below the falls looks pretty amazing nearly 800 feet down.

In daylight, rainbows often arc over the Horseshoe Falls.

During many evenings, a light show bathes the cascading water in multiple colors.

The panoramic view also includes the neon lights of Clifton Hill – where adults can buy tacky souvenirs, gorge on carnival candy and indulge themselves in all the things they didn’t get enough of as a kid.

Having fun, that’s what Niagara Falls is all about.

STORY CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 28

Monday, March 26, 2012

NIAGARA FALLS BY WHEELCHAIR -- PART 6


 NIAGARA FALLS ACCESS FOR DISABLED VISITORS

Nothing beats the thrill and beauty of Niagara Falls itself. Wheelchair users can gaze at the falls from any number of good vantage points.

The most difficult thing is fighting for viewing space among the throngs that gather along hundreds of feet of security fence that keeps visitors from falling into the gorge below.

The Maid of the Mist building has a series of ramps that allow wheelchair users to get up to an observation platform that gives a bird’s eye view of the thundering falls.

The observation deck is positioned perfectly for panoramas of both the American and Canadian falls.

Elsewhere within the Niagara Parks Commission grounds, the sprawling Table Rock building features excellent barrier-free access to souvenirs and food.

It also has a well-designed unisex restroom that comes in handy for wheelchair users requiring assistance from an opposite sex companion.

STORY CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 27

Sunday, March 25, 2012

NIAGARA FALLS BY WHEELCHAIR -- PART 5


NIAGARA FALLS ACCESS FOR DISABLED VISITORS

Niagara’s lodging includes huge, convention-sized hotels, many of the chain brands and mom and pop motor courts.

Our best pick for wheelchair access is the Courtyard by Marriott.

The relatively new property has an automatic door opener that leads to the lobby, a ramp to its pool and accessible parking.

The Courtyard, which has barrier-free rooms equipped with roll-in showers, is a quiet oasis in the heart of a bustling commercial area.

Speaking of action, Casino Niagara is within walk and rolling distance from the falls.

For those who drive, the casino has a few disabled-reserved parking spaces on-site and its shuttle busses from the satellite parking lots are able to accommodate wheelchair users.

Although the main entrance is oriented toward a grand staircase, each level of the casino can be reached by elevator.

However, some elevators are a bit hidden behind doors and are somewhat difficult to maneuver through.

The casino itself, which has the full range of gaming tables, slot machines and the like, has aisles that are plenty wide enough to wheel around.

STORY CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 26

Saturday, March 24, 2012

NIAGARA FALLS BY WHEELCHAIR -- PART 4


NIAGARA FALLS ACCESS FOR DISABLED VISITORS

The Criminals Hall of Fame Wax Museum is one tacky, but fun museum that we can recommend for barrier-free access.

The museum is located on a more level, easy to negotiate part of Clifton Hill. It’s attendant is quick to point out the hall’s accessibility.

We found the aisles plenty wide to negotiate and were please that everything is on the ground floor – meaning no steps to worry about.

The one negative is that some of the kitschy displays are behind windows located too high off the ground for full viewing from the seat of a wheelchair.

The Hall of Fame is great in a Jerry Springer kind of way. Lots of fake blood and campy dioramas fill the dimly-lit corridors.

Jeffrey Dahmer is depicted with his infamous refrigerator – complete with body parts on its shelves.
Lizzie Borden is captured in wax with her famous ax.

New York mobster Albert Anastasia – of Murder Incorporated fame -- is shown in a pool of blood, shot down in his barber chair in a hail of gangland gunfire.

Nestled among the vivid varieties of Clifton Hill are many motels and hotels catering to everyone from families to honeymooners.

STORY CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 22 

Friday, March 23, 2012

NIAGARA FALLS BY WHEELCHAIR -- PART 3


NIAGARA FALLS ACCESS FOR DISABLED VISITORS

Clifton Hill is a steep hillside lined with garish museums, tacky souvenir shops, colorful arcade games, fattening food stands and oddball street performers.

In other words, what’s not to love?!

Clifton Hill is like a Las Vegas for kids.

Instead of Casinos (there is one in Niagara and we’ll get to that later), it has brightly-lit funhouses and wax museums.

The Burger King features a larger than life Frankenstein –a likely escapee from a wonderfully gruesome storefront museum – gripping a king-sized burger.

Clifton Hill’s steep slope can present a challenge to wheelchair users.

The good news is that every so often, there are level plateaus – concrete islands that are smooth and level for easy negotiating to the next cotton candy stand or miniature golf grounds.

Curbcuts are good and most businesses have at least one level, accessible entrance.

We found the majority of food stands, sit down restaurants and shops to be wheelchair-accessible.

The down side is that most of the mini-museums are only partially accessible, or not accessible at all.

The two-story attractions have steps, not elevators to the upper floor and some have passageways too narrow for wheelers.

STORY CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 4

Thursday, March 22, 2012

NIAGARA FALLS BY WHEELCHAIR -- PART 2



NIAGARA FALLS ACCESS FOR DISABLED VISITORS

The overwhelming shape and size of the Horseshoe Falls, not to mention the three thousand tons of water that crash over it each second, make it a crowd pleaser.

This magical place is a world of pairs: Canadian and American falls, natural and man-made attractions, accessible and not so wheelchair-accessible areas.

Thankfully for disabled visitors, the majority of Niagara Falls’ natural areas and some of the tourist magnets sprung up all around it are accessible.

Access is crucial to us because Heidi, who has lived with rheumatoid arthritis since age eight, uses a wheelchair for mobility.

As for the pair of nations that share the falls, the question of where to stay is won by Canada hands down.

Viewing of the American and Canadian Horseshoe falls is better from the Canadian side.

The U.S.’s neighbor to the north also has a better array of hotels to choose from and nothing on the American side compares to the fun offered by Canadian Niagara’s kitschy and crazy Clifton Hill.

That brings us to our last pair. While the natural beauty of the falls draws visitors to the region, the wacky carnival of Clifton Hill keeps kids of all ages coming back. 

STORY CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 23

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

NIAGARA FALLS BY WHEELCHAIR -- PART 1


NIAGARA FALLS ACCESS FOR DISABLED VISITORS

NIAGARA FALLS, CANADA – Surrounded by thousands of fellow travelers of every age and ethnicity, we gathered along the wall and allowed the great falls to captivate our senses.

Eyes struggled to take in the enormity of the huge Horseshoe Falls, ears tuned to the thundering roar of water rushing to the gorge below, faces tingled from the wet mist that constantly drifts above the mighty Niagara.

About 500 falls in the world are taller than Niagara, but none can match it for pure brute force.

A small island divides the Niagara River into two falls – the 167-foot-tall American Falls and the 160-foot-tall, horseshoe-shaped Canadian Falls.

STORY CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 22



Tuesday, March 20, 2012

REQUESTING JOB ACCOMMODATIONS -- PART 9


THE FINE ART OF REQUESTING 
JOB ACCOMMODATIONS

Here are some strategies to consider when asking for accommodations on the job:

If the accommodations you’re requesting are more high tech and expensive than merely raising your desk up on wooden blocks, be prepared to suggest possible sources of funding.

Your employer may be happy to pay the whole cost of pricey voice-controlled software or a special hands-free speaker phone.

However, the advance homework you’ve done on what vocational rehabilitation or other sources will and will not pay for may come in handy. 


EDITOR'S NOTE: 
This was written by our expert before she came to the Sunshine State. All negative anecdotes and complaints about bosses are based on incidents in Ohio, not Miami.

Monday, March 19, 2012

REQUESTING JOB ACCOMMODATIONS -- PART 8


THE FINE ART OF REQUESTING 
JOB ACCOMMODATIONS

Here are some strategies to consider when asking for accommodations on the job:

Be specific. For example, if you have a trackball on your home computer that works great for you, write down the brand and model number and request the same one for your office.

Just before I started the job where things went swimmingly, I had a friend take measurements of me and my wheelchair.

I had exact dimensions down to the quarter inch of such things as my chair’s width and how high my knees were from the floor when sitting in my chair.

These specifics, typed out and delivered to my then employer-to-be proved invaluable in assisting them in finding me the right size desk and computer table.

I also spelled out exactly how high the toilet seat riser in the accessible stall should be.

Getting it down on paper in words and numbers helped diffuse the embarrassment factor surrounding something so personal.


ARTICLE CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 17

EDITOR'S NOTE: 
This was written by our expert before she came to the Sunshine State. All negative anecdotes and complaints about bosses are based on incidents in Ohio, not Miami.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

REQUESTING JOB ACCOMMODATIONS -- PART 7


THE FINE ART OF REQUESTING 
JOB ACCOMMODATIONS

Here are some strategies to consider when asking for accommodations on the job:

Be confident, gentle but firm and direct.

Know your rights and assert them without being obnoxious, or just as bad, tentative.

If you waiver on whether you really need an accommodation or not, you’ll leave your boss guessing and possibly even doubting the genuineness of your need.

Though the accommodations will make your life easier, emphasize that you want them so you can be the best employee possible for the organization.


ARTICLE CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 19

EDITOR'S NOTE: 
This was written by our expert before she came to the Sunshine State. All negative anecdotes and complaints about bosses are based on incidents in Ohio, not Miami.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

REQUESTING JOB ACCOMMODATIONS -- PART 6



THE FINE ART OF REQUESTING 
JOB ACCOMMODATIONS
 
Here are some strategies to consider when asking for accommodations on the job:

Start as early as possible, preferably as soon as you’ve accepted an offer of employment.

The longer your wait, the easier it becomes for your employer to get the impression that you’re doing just swell without accommodations.

When you do finally request that lever handle on your office door or lowered light switch, your boss may be baffled as to how you were coping before.

That kind of confusion you don’t need.

 ARTICLE CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 18

EDITOR'S NOTE: 
This was written by our expert before she came to the Sunshine State. All negative anecdotes and complaints about bosses are based on incidents in Ohio, not Miami.

Friday, March 16, 2012

REQUESTING JOB ACCOMMODATIONS -- PART 5


THE FINE ART OF REQUESTING 
JOB ACCOMMODATIONS

Not only was the commode too low for my transfer needs, but I would often spend between five and 20 minutes inside waiting for someone else to enter and assist me with the door so I could leave.

Even up to my last day at the job, using the restroom was still a monumental challenge.

Fortunately, getting the necessary accommodations for my next job went as close to perfect as possible.

Why the difference?

Though a more receptive supervisor helped, a big part of it was my new and improved approach.

I’d learned the hard way that delaying a request for accommodations then tendering one without sufficient specifics and a pleasant but firm air of self-assurance was not the way to go.

ARTICLE CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 17

EDITOR'S NOTE: 
This was written by our expert before she came to the Sunshine State. All negative anecdotes and complaints about bosses are based on incidents in Ohio, not Miami.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

REQUESTING JOB ACCOMMODATIONS -- PART 4


THE FINE ART OF REQUESTING 
JOB ACCOMMODATIONS


Finally, I decided I had enough.

I spent a few hours on a Saturday morning drafting a memo to my boss listing the accommodations I was requesting, as per the ADA.

I made it as short and to the point as possible, being careful to avoid a confrontational tone yet making it clear I meant business.

At the end of the memo, I respectfully requested that my boss get back with me by a specific date several weeks later.

That would provide sufficient time for him to speak with upper management and come up with a game plan.

So much for the best laid plans.

It would be months until modifications were made to the building: a gentler-sloped ramp at the building entrance, automatic door openers, a lowered elevator button panel.

My suspicions were that these accommodations had less to do with my request and more to do with making the building generally accessible to anyone.

Many more months would pass during which I struggled daily to safely and comfortably use the restroom facilities.

ARTICLE CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 15

EDITOR'S NOTE: 
This was written by our expert before she came to the Sunshine State. All negative anecdotes and complaints about bosses are based on incidents in Ohio, not Miami.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

REQUESTING JOB ACCOMMODATIONS -- PART 3


THE FINE ART OF REQUESTING 
JOB ACCOMMODATIONS


One boss was obviously uncomfortable with my request for accommodations, which principally concerned the physical facilities in my office building.

Heavy doors that couldn’t be opened without assistance, too-high elevator buttons and virtually no access features in the restroom meant my work day was laden with obstacles.

Straining to get around fatigued me and having to constantly ask for extra help was demeaning and frustrating.

I foolishly tolerated it for months out of fear of rocking the boat.

I also failed to advocate for myself because of that little voice inside my head that told me to be grateful to have a job at all.

ARTICLE CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 15

EDITOR'S NOTE: 
This was written by our expert before she came to the Sunshine State. All negative anecdotes and complaints about bosses are based on incidents in Ohio, not Miami.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

REQUESTING JOB ACCOMMODATIONS -- PART 2


THE FINE ART OF REQUESTING 
JOB ACCOMMODATIONS


Even though the request is for a reasonable accommodation to help me do my job better – something granted by federal law to qualified individuals with disabilities – it’s not always easy to ask.

Who wants to come off demanding or whiny, or be perceived as “one of those needy wheelchair people” who can’t do a job without special treatment?

How will a supervisor react?

Will he or she be supportive and understanding, deny the request, or, even worse, be confrontational?

It’s easy to view someone else’s situation and cooly reply “they can’t do that to you – it’s illegal.”

While a person with a disability may very well have legal remedies if denied reasonable accommodation, nobody wants it to come to that. Work is stressful enough.

I’ve been in the workforce about a decade and have worked for several bosses.

They had different attitudes and different reactions to my requests for accommodations.

Some of the variation must be chalked up to their personalities, something I couldn’t control. Yet a significant factor was my how I went about making the request, something I could control.

ARTICLE CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 14
EDITOR'S NOTE: 
This was written by our expert before she came to the Sunshine State. All negative anecdotes and complaints about bosses are based on incidents in Ohio, not Miami.

Monday, March 12, 2012

REQUESTING JOB ACCOMMODATIONS -- PART 1


THE FINE ART OF REQUESTING 
JOB ACCOMMODATIONS

EDITOR'S NOTE: 
This was written by our expert before she came to the Sunshine State. All negative anecdotes and complaints about bosses are based on incidents in Ohio, not Miami.

If you have a disability, then you’re probably familiar with the “20 favors a day” concept.

I once had a friend of mine, a wheelchair user, employ this phrase to describe all those little extras people with disabilities need help with.

The heavy door, the dropped book, the object on a too-high shelf.

As a rheumatoid arthritis survivor and power chair user, occasionally I ask friends and co-workers for a moment of assistance, and they’re often happy to help.

Still, I’d prefer not to have to ask, feeling just a smidgen of guilty reluctance each time I have to grab someone’s attention.

When the stakes are upped, and the “favor” is more complex or costly (in dollars and/or effort), things get tricky.

It’s especially true when I’m requesting something of my supervisor, the one who evaluates me, gives me orders and has direct control over whether I get a paycheck.

ARTICLE CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 13






Sunday, March 11, 2012

WHEELING BEHIND THE WALLS OF CARTAGENA -- PART 11


THE FINEST SPANISH COLONIAL CITY ON EARTH 

WHAT TO SEE


Historic attractions within the 400-year-old plazas are surprisingly wheelchair-accessible and feature incredibly inexpensive admission prices including: 

Church of San Pedro Claver (12,000 Colombia Pesos [COP], which is about $6 U.S.)

Museo de Arte Moderno  (3,000 COP/$1.50 US),Catedral de Cartagena (12,000 COP/$6 US)

Gold Museum (free)

Palacio de la Inquisicion (11,000 COP/$5.75 US) 

Note that only the first floor of the inquisition museum is accessible, don't despair -- because that's where all the good stuff is.

WHERE TO EAT

Dining is fabulous in Cartagena. For a gourmet breakfast in a fabulous bakery with lots of snacks to take home, head to Pasteleria y Panaderia Mila -- two can eat pancakes, ham, eggs, pastries and fabulous coffee for about $15 US. 

For lunch or dinner, head to Getsemani for legendary seafood and other Cartagena favorites at Casa De Socoro -- a pair can feast on shrimp, crab, snapper, coconut rice  and more, for an unbelievably low total of about $30 U.S.

For a dinner splurge, find your way to the refined confines of La Cocina de Carmela -- a couple can sit in romantic candlelight and enjoy chicken with spicy chocolate, risotto pomodoro and other delicacies plus a glass of wine and the check will come to about $50 U.S.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

WHEELING BEHIND THE WALLS OF CARTAGENA -- PART 10



THE FINEST SPANISH COLONIAL CITY ON EARTH  


WHERE TO STAY

The Mirador del Laguito offers many lodging advantages over a hotel. 

Full apartment units at the modern condo tower can be rented for about $100 per night and you can save on expenses by fixing breakfast and other meals.

The Mirador also offers a level entrance, 24-hour security/doorman, modern elevators, an amazingly inexpensive on-site laundry service and wheelchair-accessible units. 

The Mirador is located right by the beach, very near the modern shopping/dining/entertainment district of Boca Grande and about 10 minutes from the walled city, where wheelchair access is a bit hard to come by in the centuries-old hotel buildings. 

Steve and Aracely Ferrer  speak perfect English and Spanish and can assist with a booking at the Mirador del Laguito. 

Contact them at: 201 952-3755, or visit: http://www.cartagenavacationrentals.us 

For luxury travelers willing to pay a premium to stay within the walled city, check out the Sofitel Cartagena Santa Clara at http://www.sofitel.com/gb/hotel-1871-sofitel-cartagena-santa-clara/index.shtml

 STORY CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 11

Friday, March 9, 2012

WHEELING BEHIND THE WALLS OF CARTAGENA -- PART 9


THE FINEST SPANISH COLONIAL CITY ON EARTH  



Between here and the walled city is the Parque Centenario, an intriguing but slightly creepy place where locals hang out, along with a few menacing looking monkeys and, reportedly, a pair of gila monsters.

While Getsemani has a number of hostals and hotels, it remains – for the most part – gritty and ungentrified. 

Sidewalks are careworn and curb ramps, hit or miss. But well worth a lengthy roll from the walled city is La Casa de Socorro, a restaurant with good access and superb seafood. Here you can select from numerous types of mariscos – shrimp, crab, snapper and more – prepared in traditional styles with succulent sauces. 

Accompaniments include plantains and the exquisite arroz con coco: white rice blended with bits of sweet coconut.    


Wright has contributed stories about accessible architecture, urban travel and foreign adventure to New Mobility for more than a decade. Contact the Miami-based writer-photographer at stevewright64@yahoo.com

 STORY CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 10

Thursday, March 8, 2012

WHEELING BEHIND THE WALLS OF CARTAGENA -- PART 8



THE FINEST SPANISH COLONIAL CITY ON EARTH  


Also an undeniable part of New World history was Spain’s quest for “gold, God and glory.” 

Check out the first part of this conquistador battle cry at the nearby Gold Museum. 

Although housed in an old mansion, the exhibits of mind-blowing jewelry and other creations are friendly to wheelers. 

The entrance to collection includes super-thick security doors and armed guards.

Feast your eyes on incredible necklaces, bracelets anklets and crowns, as well as golden jaguars and butterflies. 

The bling is a feast for the eyes, but the displays about native cultures and their traditions are the show.

One exception to the rule of staying within the walled old city for sightseeing is a short excursion to Getsemani, an historic neighborhood that had traditionally been a home for African slaves. 

 STORY CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 9

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

WHEELING BEHIND THE WALLS OF CARTAGENA -- PART 7


THE FINEST SPANISH COLONIAL CITY ON EARTH 


A short walk and roll from the Catedral de Cartagena sits an attraction that is both intriguing and repellant, and certainly not for the faint of heart. 

The Palacio de la Inquisicion documents the machinations of the Spanish Inquisition. 

During the Spanish colonial period, the organization’s sinister tentacles stretched across the Atlantic to the Americas, where it continued its dastardly quest to root out heretics and others deemed undesirable.

Although this accessible attraction is small, it packs a wallop with its recreation of torture devices used to extract confessions.

A double-edged spiked collar allowed the wearer to speak in no more than a whisper to communicate his offenses. 

A thumb-crushing device inflicted incredible pain.

The stretching table or rack could literally tear one limb from limb.

Paintings on the walls show tortured souls begging for mercy.

Out in the museum’s peaceful, shady courtyard incongruously stands a gallows, complete with noose and trap. 

This simple collection gives not an impression of sensationalism, but rather an honest representation of man’s inhumanity to man. 


 STORY CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 8

 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

WHEELING BEHIND THE WALLS OF CARTAGENA -- PART 6



THE FINEST SPANISH COLONIAL CITY ON EARTH  


Because Cartagena’s old quarter is so compact, many attractions are within easy wheeling distance of each other, making taxis unnecessary. 

The Museo de Arte Moderno is also located on the Plaza San Pedro Claver.

It features Latin American painting from the 1950s to the present, as well as temporary exhibitions. 

The museum is comprised of two buildings -- one built in the 17th century and the other in the 19th century -- and both have good access. 

The museum store is a good spot to get some unique souvenirs.

Also worth a visit is the Catedral de Cartagena, which has a long and storied history. 

Originally a primitive wood and cane structure, its construction began in earnest in 1575, making it one of the oldest in the Americas. Sir Francis Drake – a rapscallion or naval hero, depending on your perspective – blew a large portion of the main hall to smithereens in 1586. 

The structure was nearly rebuilt in 1600 when it came tumbling down without warning.

It took another 12 years for it to be reconstructed. 

Today, the wooden altar ornamented with gold, sculpture and paintings is exquisite.

The audio tour of the cathedral beautifully tells the story of this place and its extraordinary history.

 STORY CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 7

Monday, March 5, 2012

WHEELING BEHIND THE WALLS OF CARTAGENA -- PART 5


THE FINEST SPANISH COLONIAL CITY ON EARTH


At the end of the Plaza de la Aduana, is the Plaza San Pedro Claver.

Here is the Church of San Pedro Claver – crowned with its signature clock tower – which was founded in 1603. It takes its name from Father Claver, a priest considered a human rights pioneer for his compassion for African slaves brought to Cartagena’s notorious slave market. 

Father Claver cared for many sick slaves and ministered to the marginalized and down-trodden.

The church houses a small museum with paintings and items commemorating Father Claver, who was canonized in 1888. 

 

But the centerpiece is the cloister courtyard with its level walkways and famous well where the priest baptized thousands of slaves. 

Enormous, shady trees provide a place for reflection, plus a pleasant respite from the tropical sun. 


 STORY CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 6

 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

WHEELING BEHIND THE WALLS OF CARTAGENA -- PART 4


THE FINEST SPANISH COLONIAL CITY ON EARTH 


The grande dames of the street peddlers are the Palenque women who wear brightly colored dresses and balance impossibly huge bowls of exotic fruits on their heads.

Sample some tart and/or sweet offering you’ve never seen at your local supermarket, such as a nispero, also known as a sapodilla or naseberry. 

These little orange delights come from a tree related to the rosebush family. 

Maybe you’d prefer a guanabana or soursop, a spiky green fruit tasting like a combination of strawberry and pineapple but with sour citrus flavor notes, coupled with a subtle creamy flavor.

Although the city’s people are friendly and engaging, the eye is constantly drawn to the streetscapes and buildings.

The grandest examples of Cartagena’s architecture – besides the cyclopean wall – are the cathedrals, and they are generally accessible to wheelers.


 STORY CONTINUES TOMORROW -- MARCH 5