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Sube Sube Stephen Hey all, hoping that you'll follow my journey along the way and that we'll be able to stay in touch as much as possible. Hopefully some of you will join me along the way!

Cartagena and Playa Blanca

COLOMBIA | Tuesday, 19 December 2017 | Views [234] | Comments [1]

Diclaimer: I've realized that the website I'm using for this blog stinks when it comes to uploading pics so I'm going to likely use Insta (srkoehler13) and
Snapchat (skoehler1316) solely. Now, without further ado...

Within the first few hours of walking around Cartagena on my first night I was told by several "friendly" street vendors that anything is possible in Colombia. After some not so deductive reasoning, I was able to surmise, that according to these guys, anything is possible with the purchase of coke, weed or ladies for hire (so much classier than whores). Now maybe it's my gringo charm, but I think I averaged a minimum of ten solicitations per day. That kind of attention would make anyone blush! But it's ok mom, I passed every time; though I can see how a nice bender or a night in a lovely Colombian jail is certainly possible.

Now all of that being said, I have to say that Cartagena is pretty damn cool. The old part of town teems with colonial architecture with narrow streets, brightly colored houses and overhanging balconies filled with flowers and Christmas lights this time of year. There's also a giant stone wall surrounding the perimeter of the city that you can walk across from end to end if your heart desires. And my heart desired it so. I spent my first night walking the wall after dusk when the ocean breeze seems to pick up in strength, making it extra refreshing. Now I'm not much of a museum or church guy (unless we're talking Church's Chicken of course); however, these old buildings always amaze me with their beauty and Cartagena had a couple gems.

I spent my three nights in the Getsemani neighbornood, next to the Plaza de la Trinidad, a meeting point for locals and travelers alike to hang out until two in the morning; drinking, eating and grooving the night away. There's live music, random local acts (Michael Jackson, a mime and some random groups of dancers to name a few) and delicious street food priced to move. Fresh mango with lime juice and a pinch of salt for $1.00 or less, empanadas for 67 cents, kabobs for $1.33 and a liter and a half of beer $1.15. With prices like this, I'm not sure how I'm going to spend my money. Coke habit?

On the days I didn't wander aimlessly throughout the old town and its many plazas and alley ways, I went to El Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas and Playa Bocagrande. The castle itself, which is just an old fort is ok, but the views overlooking the city are definitely worth the $8 admission. So those of you who know me, know the I am a child of the sun and sand and oh boy, I'm getting my fill of that right now. When I tell you that the weather here is hot, I mean it's red hot! It's been 90 and humid every day with very little cloud cover. It's even a little much for me; yeah, I'm surprised too!

Now onto Bocagrande. While the old town is colonial, Bocagrande reminds me a little bit of South Beach in Miami with tall condos and apartment buildings along the beach; however, South Beach does not have the endless parade of vendors selling food, massages and kitsch. Seriously, I needed a stick to beat these people off the five or so hours I was there. I tell ya, it's that damn gringo charm again! I'm sad to report they did get the best of me here. I tried a little piece of crab meat and before I knew it some random woman was rubbing lotion on my arms and neck. Damn! they got me, but after a few bucks, they left me alone. Lesson learned, womp womp!

After Cartagena I spent two days at Playa Blance on the isle of Baru outside Cartagena. Seeing how my future consists of lots of bus rides, I wanted to get there using a combo of the public bus and a shared taxi. And with a little help from a local at the bus stop I was able to do that. The trip took a little bit longer this way but it was worth it. And you certainly know that yours truly was the only gringo on that bus!

Playa Blanca is one of those stereotypically beautiful beaches with fine sand and turquoise water that is the perfect temperature any time of day. It's cool during the day when the sun is unwavering in its intensity and warm after the sun sets. The isle is a day trip for most people, so the beach becomes deserted and tranquil starting at five, totally changing the atmosphere. This night was my first foray into sleeping in a hammock, and I'm glad to say it wasn't the worst thing in the world! It actually wasn't that bad in all honesty, but then again I was pretty tired from being in the sun all day and I had some drinks with a great Chilean couple I met. Big ups to Raymundo and Daniela! They were so friendly and I got to practice Spanish and learn some Chilean phrases while we drank beers and Pisco and coke on the beach.

Over the first week, a pattern has definitely developed where I seem to do whatever I want solo during the day and then somehow at night I end up talking to random people out and about at night or at the hostel. I'd say it's a good and bad thing. It's nice to have the freedom to do whatever I want, but getting to know people for one to three nights is somewhat unsatisfying. Oh well, as Tupac said, "that's the way it is". And while I haven't met any Americans yet (and don't really expect to), you can trust in me to maintain those smooth international relations.

Next up for me is Santa Marta, the jumping off point for the four-day Ciudad Perdida and Parque Nacional Tayrona. More pics and stories to come!

Tags: colonial splendor and turquoise beaches



My experience in Cartagena de Indias was completely different. I was robbed and attacked two days before I left the country and came back to Chile. Oh, dear. However, it was a good experience overall. You can read my story here in 2 parts (in Spanish):



Have a safe trip!

  Carola Mar 4, 2018 10:00 AM

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