Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cartagena, Colombia

The North Coast of Colombia and the touristy beach towns I have been too are unique.  The closest comparison I would have would be Mexcio because they have beautiful beaches and are very touristy.  Cartagena is the most famous and biggest beach town in Colombia.  It was one of the places that was safe even during the very dangerous 80s and 90s.  The people in this city are used to tourism being the number one industry, so you are going to get hassles non stop as a gringo.

Here we have a closed up shop.
Man on bicycle riding in front of one of Cartagena's buildings designed with Colonial Architecture.  PS) Under renovation
Man eating Plantane (Platano) walking down the street
Here is my buddy Jeff from Comox, BC, Canada eating Mangoes and drinking beer.  Only got to hang out with this guy for one afternoon because he was on his way to Medellin, but he was a really rad MAHF.  Jeff just couldnt get over how many fucking pigeons there are in this city!!!!!  Behind him a little girl feeds the throngs of birds.
Chillin with the holmies!!!
Civillian Military keeping on eye on things.  I just hoped he wasnt going to shoot me for taking this picture.
The Colombian Mens National Soccer team practicising in Cartagena's brand new soccer facility.

I caught a video of a penalty shot attempt:

The beautiful jaggedy rock garbage littered beaches of downtown Cartagena.  Too be honest this is the most overrated beach town in the world.  The main beach is Playa Blanca which is far away from the city so most people pay a tour company to drive them there and then pay an entrance fee to the beach.  Then when you are on the beach you are hassled by an endless amount of pushy salespeople trying to sell you nicknacks.  PLus the beach is filled with cabanas and hammocks so there is not much room to lay down.

If you want a true beach town withouth the hassles go to Palomino.

A shot of the beautiful courtyard of Media Luna Hostel.  I am staying at the Media Luna Hostel in Media Luna a neighborhood of Cartagena.  It is the nicest hostel I have stayed in during this trip.  Beautiful pool, rooftop terrace and gigantic rooms for fifteen dollars a night.  Its not a great place to learn Spanish though, everyone at the hostel speaks English as a first language.

Check it out here www.medialunahostel.com
The bicycling here is good... not great.  My hostel has some bicycles and they will rent them for free for the first hour.  After that its $1.50 an hour.  So cheap.  No Bicycle lanes so you have to ride on the roads.  
My view of biking down the streets of Cartagena.  Here is nowhere near as bicycle friendly as Bogota obviously.  Here cars practice the art of the Courtesy Honk.  It is when you honk at a cyclist everytime you pass them.  I am still on the fence on whether I like this or not.
Walking down the street and I ran into my friends that I had met in Bogota.  This is my favorite part about travelling when you run into people in different cities that you travel.  The girl with the balloon it was her birthday.  Next to me is my good friend Phillipe.

All in all Cartagena is a good city.  I would recomend you have to check it out for at least a weekend.  It is a difficult place for a twenty-something gringoe male to be.  People don't call you "hey amigo" when you walk down the street like Mexico.  Here they call you "you want cocaine" or "What do you need, i got everything".  Too many idiots have come to this city before me and really changed the dynamic of the tourism.  Even Bogota in the most touristy areas of the city was lightyears better than Cartagena for this.  The other troubling thing is the police will do random searches constantly.  They pick on gringoes, hoping to find drugs on them and then force them to pay $300 to avoid going to jail.  It is a very corrupt city.  I find it annoying and an invasion of privacy to be walking down the street and have police randomly stop me for pat-downs.  It is really bad on Friday or Saturday nights.  One of my friends from Australia, on the walk home from a bar to the hostel was stopped and random searched by four different police officers in twenty minutes.  I was searched within minutes of arriving to the city when I got off the bus downtown.  Of course they found nothing because I am here for the culture, the people and the food, definitely not the drugs.  But there is no shortage of Partyboy Australians, Americans and other Gringoes in this city buying copious amounts of drugs and getting stuck in hostels here, hung-over day after day, without the energy to wake up early and catch a bus to another city.  This city is definitely one of the bigger gringoe vortexes I have seen in South America.

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