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CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA (Boca Grande)

2013-4, 2018, 2022 (2 WEEKS)
I have a LONG history with Cartagena. Since 2013, when I got myself into some potentially very serious trouble immediately upon arriving, I've returned three times. While it serves a purpose, it's probably my least favorite Colombian town (of the 20+ I've visited). I wrote this in 2018: It's is a town that would be a complete shit hole if it weren’t for the manufactured tourism of El Centro/Old Town. The weather is hot and extremely humid, the town is ugly and full of trash. The locals are not friendly, instead opting to take maximum advantage of tourists (more than other, similar cities I've visited around the world). There's tons of prostitution and apparently there's an underage prostitution problem as evidenced by 20 foot high posters around the city. The beaches would be ok if it wasn't for nonstop vendors trying to sell you useless goods and not taking no for answer. And, there are parts that are legitimately dangerous (and I don’t use that word lightly). Oh, and it’s expensive. Update in 2022: It's actually not that hot and humid. It is, but not unbearable. I've been to worse. The trash problem has gotten much better 100% due to tourism. The locals still are very disrespectful of general public hygiene. I saw one guy put a beer bottle in the middle of the sidewalk when he finished (like, dude, where the FUCK do you think that's going to go you DUMB FUCK IDIOT.) The locals are the same, or worse. Constant barrage of vendors who don't take no for an answer. I literally had a vendor walk with me for 4 blocks and even sit down at my table even after I directly asked what he wanted and informed him that I would like to be alone. I'm not sure about the underage prostitution problem, I didn't see any sign. That was was probably bad for business even if there is a problem, so the sign was removed. It was quite shocking to see it the first time (like, where the hell am I and should I leave/not come back?). It's probably not that dangerous, especially in El Centro. Though I did see lots of hoodlum-looking kids and in the very minimal amount of time I spent in El Centro, I saw a fight between local boys. Yes, it's still expensive, but that hasn't kept pace. It's less expensive comparatively to the rest of the country than it was 4 years ago.
  • It's common in for cafe's not to have wifi in El Centro
  • In 2015, my friend and I got stopped and searched twice by the local police on the same night. This has probably changed, is my guess.
  • The very tip of Bocagrange near the Hilton and before Castillo Grande beach is kind of noman's land with a nice wide beach and almost no vendors.
  • The lake on Bocagrande you can ride little water taxis, good date idea.
In Colombia, I also visited:
santa marta colombia city map data sheet daygame
There are many different neighborhoods you can stay in, all very touristy. Bocagrande has the nicest vibes with the beaches, but the hecklers are intense. Marabela is the part towards the top of the map without a highlight. It also has a beach right out front. Manga is residential. Getsemani is a little more relaxed than Centro. Ignore all guys on the street being friendly with you, even if they speak English. They are only interested in selling drugs and women.
 
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CITY IMPRESSIONS

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I choose the items below as they’re generally available everywhere. Thus, easy for comparison. The prices reflect the cheapest option given my standard. In any estination you can find slightly cheaper prices if you wanted to sacrifice convenience (ie going to local market or out-of-town grocery store).
ITEM
  • Airbnb Nightly Rate
  • Coworking Day Pass
  • 1-Hour Massage
  • 1-Month Gym
  • Beard Trim
  • 16.9oz Water
  • 2KG Wash+Fold
  • Americano (small)
  • Expresso
  • Salmon
  • Tenderloin
  • Chicken Breast
  • Almonds
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Broccoli
  • Carrot
  • Cucumber
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Watermelon
  • Red Wine
COLOMBIAN PESO (COP)
  • 26,656
  • 1,000
  • -/KG
  • 4,500
  • 4,200
  • -/KG
  • -/KG
  • 17,200/KG
  • -/KG
  • 38,000/KG
  • 6,700/KG
  • 2,200/KG
  • 19,000/KG
  • 5,500/KG
  • 5,500/KG
  • 12,000/KG
  • 3,400/KG
  • 3,100/KG
  • 20,000
US DOLLARS ($)
  • 6
  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
  • 0.00
  • 0.23
  • 0.00/LB
  • 1.01
  • 0.95
  • 0/LB
  • 0/LB
  • 1.76/LB
  • 0.00/LB
  • 3.89/LB
  • 0.69/LB
  • 0.23/LB
  • 1.94/LB
  • 0.56/LB
  • 0.56/LB
  • 1.23/LB
  • 0.35/LB
  • 0.32/LB
  • 4.50
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