CartagenaInfo.com - La Guia de Cartagena, Colombia
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   The Guide To Cartagena, Colombia


ARRIVING BY CRUISE SHIP-TIPS ON HAVING FUN

Discover the truth about personal safety in Cartagena

Each year, hundreds of thousands of tourists arrive at our modern Port for a brief visit to Cartagena. Cartagena de Indias was the most important city on the main sea route, then known as: "The Spanish Main". The city held vaults full of gold, silver, emeralds and other treasures looted from the indigenous peoples of the continent, and Central America. Annually, when good sailing months permitted, the hoards were shipped to the treasury of the King of Spain. Because of her stored wealth, Cartagena was high on the "hit list" for the pirates.
Cruise in Cartagena, Colombia

Entering the Harbor, is in itself, an interesting part of your visit, and traces the path of the early galleons. Your first indication that you are approaching Cartagena occurs miles from the city, as your ship majestically glides right between two ancient Spanish Forts near Bocachica (Small Mouth), and then mid bay between the Forts of: Castillo Grande and Manzanillo. As pirate ships appeared on the horizon, a under water chain was raised from the sea bed between the forts, tightened and held fast, with a large capstan. From this advantage the ship was pummeled with cannon shot from the two opposing forts. As you continue your approach to the city you will see additional fortifications including the mighty Fort San Felipe de Barajas, which arguably is the largest and most impressive fortification in the new world. .

The Port of Cartagena is one of the most modern in South America and one of the busiest in Colombia. The Port cooperates fully with Interpol (of London, England) and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) of the United States. There are video cameras everywhere, as well as a large contingent of well armed and trained police, plus drug sniffing dogs. Please do not be alarmed. The "troops" are friendly to tourists, and they will help you in any way that they can. A primary reason for this heavy security results from the insatiable demand for drugs consumed in the United States and other prosperous countries of the world.

The first law of Economics is: supply will meet demand. First, there is demand. The U.S. problems relating to drugs is shared by the people of Colombia, where more than 40,000 have been killed in the past 35 years. Within this same period, a much higher number of drug related deaths, have occurred within the United States. Both countries share a "bad name" when it comes to drug violence and killings.

Your visit to Cartagena is very much appreciated, and a big help to the local economy. The vast majority of locals truly love and appreciate gringos, and others foreigners who visit their city. There are more than 80,000 Colombians residing within the United States. It is a sad note, but it can be safely said: the majority of youth in Colombia, would love to: "live and work in the states". For many, it is their daily dream!

Some of your shipmates will not get off the ship in Cartagena. Others, who are equally un informed, will venture off the ship, but remain in the port, so they can brag to their friends: "I was in Colombia". The usual response will be: "you were where?…are you crazy?"

Cartagena is not representative of Colombia, and there is little to worry about when it comes to your personal safety. The city, and in particular, the old walled portion called El Centro, is clean, safe, fun and romantic. Those who are not as informed as you, will be the big losers if they miss this golden opportunity to visit one of the greatest cities in South America.

While on your Cartagena adventure, you will see poverty-up close. The U.S. State Department for years, has issued a: Travel Warning to U.S. Citizens against visiting Colombia. If you seek a more balanced and accurate report, visit the Canada Advisory. Canada has a consul in Cartagena. They know first hand about personal safety. The Travel Warning issued by the U. S. State Department is seriously hurting the economy and people of Cartagena! If you are a U.S. citizen, you should feel good knowing that your visit will help our economy. You are welcome, and the people of Cartagena thank you.

Note: This text is written by a 62 year old U.S. citizen who lives and works in Cartagena. "Even with a so-so command of the Spanish language, I don't feel that I have ever been in personal danger in Cartagena. My work keeps me out at all hours, visiting clients, many times while I am alone. Of course, I am cautious as to where I go, the way I dress and act, but this is also true when I visit my home state of Florida." Use a little common sense, and you will have no problems.

Cartagena, is the most popular tourist city in Colombia. Our poverty is demonstrated by the high number of street hustlers. Foreigners stand out. You can be spotted a block away. When you are in a crowd, such as on a shore tour, the word passes quickly, and your group will be besieged like bees heading for the flowers. Hustlers are poor, and tourists represent the rich honey pot-their next meal.

PLEASE REMEMBER THIS ABOUT ALL HUSTLERS, AND BEGGARS:

DO NOT PAY THEM ANY ATTENTION! Do not even look at them. Do not talk to them. Continue what you are doing…..PLEASE FOLLOW THIS ADVISE!

You will be safe, and generally, you will not even be touched, including a friendly hand on your shoulder. If you give the hustlers, beggars, or children as much as a single coin, you will be hurting them. They have no pride. You cannot humiliate them, for they are at rock bottom. If you have no pride, hustling and begging is easy. If you give them anything, they will be encouraged to continue their ways, looking to the tourists for support. Their presence in the streets of Cartagena, is seriously hurting the tourists image of our great world heritage city, causing great and lasting economic damage.

(Note: Colombia spent more than a million dollars to "clean up the streets" when President Clinton visited Cartagena. However, they have no funds for a continuing effort, or solution, to help the poor. Meanwhile, the U.S. government sprays poison upon the poor farmers of south Colombia, rather than adopting a sustained commitment to help with needed education, and improved economic opportunity.)

These street hustlers and beggars have other means of honorable support, such as: "work". As an example, look at the street peddlers of Cartagena. They sell products and offer services to both the people of Cartagena, and the tourists. They work long and hard. Their honest work provides a poor, but adequate income. The cost of inventory for a street peddler is very low, usually less than $10.00. If you give the hustlers or beggars money, many will quickly spend it on: lotto tickets, alcohol, cigarettes, slot machines, drugs, etc. Many of the barefoot beggar kids buy glue to sniff-which permanently damages their brain and nervous system. You can easily spot the glue kids. They wear long sleeve shirts which hide their stash of glue. When they raise their wrist to their nose, they are getting a "fix"-inhaling the deadly fumes. Give the kids shoes, and they will sell them, perhaps to buy again, from the above list? The reason is simple: if they wear shoes they will not look poor enough, and their begging income will quickly drop. Some beggar women rent children to pose as their own. They carry the child in their arms, begging. They point out the child's deformities, seeking your sympathy-and then your money! Note: The following is sad but true: Many of these "rental children" have been intentionally maimed, such as an eye gouged out, an arm cut off etc. The reason: it raises the rental value of the child. The more pathetic and sickly the child, the more the "loving and caring" tourists will give. Tourist money has been the cause of many maimed children-the world over, it is not just a Colombia problem.

When tourists, become more informed and involved in supporting lasting solutions, this may stop. We have hope that the Internet will be a primary tool in this educational effort. In the mean time, simply giving money, only continues this deplorable situation. PLEASE DO NOT GIVE ANY MONEY TO STREET HUSTLERS OR BEGGARS.

Don't be upset about what you have just read. The people of Cartagena thank you for your concern over their economic problems, but above all, they want you to have a good time-for that is the reason for your vacation!

So back to your shore visit. You can take the ships shore tours, or you can go it alone. Either way to visit Cartagena is fine. When you take the bus tours, you will be escorted to places that may not interest you. There will be many sites where you want to stay longer, (or shorter), but you have no choice, you go where the bus goes. Additionally, you will not be able to hear all that the tour guide has to say. And, you may have questions that will remain un-answered? However, these tours can be a loads of fun, and many enjoy them. There is a touring alternative. A private guided tour!

By far, the best and most positive reports appearing on the Internet Newsgroups, come from tourists who have taken a taxi tour of Cartagena. Taxis will be waiting at the dock.

Note: Cartagena taxis are modern, compact, 4 door models, some with air at an additional cost of 10%. The streets of the old city are very picturesque, narrow, and therefore, just right for compacts. You will probably want to spend at least 75% of your tour in the old walled city? Costs per tourist will be minimum if there are four persons in your private group. Try this tip. As soon as you hit the dock, each of you head for a different taxi and quickly talk (mostly "listen") to the drivers. Test their English, or your desired language.

You are lucky to have visited and studied this web site, for here you can learn exactly what it is that you want to see, where you want to shop, or stop for drinks or a great meal. Print out the first page of our web site Walking Tour, and check off the things you want to see. Show this list to the driver. Don't forget to allow enough time for shopping. And if you or your group is interested in buying emeralds or gold, be sure to check out our extensive site: Buying Emeralds and Gold in Cartagena-Tips to Save you both Time and Money. Taxi rates are uniform, and they are printed on a plastic card carried in the glove box of all Cartagena taxis. Tip: Ask to see the card, and then ask the price per hour, and total based on the minimum number of hours, for your planned tour.

There is so much to do and see in Cartagena, and your time is very limited. This web site is dedicated to helping you make the best of your time and your money, so you will fully enjoy your Cartagena experience. A little planning on your part will go a long way. When you return home, you may want to tell others on the cruise news group of your Cartagena experience?

Cartagena is a great romantic and historic city, certainly worth at least a week of your time. Who knows, you may want to stretch your pension and live the good life, here in Cartagena on the Caribbean!

Thanks for caring, and visiting our city.

Don´t forget to: "Bookmark" or put this website in your "Favorites".

Note: Please drop us an E-mail upon your return home. Tell us the good and the bad about your Cartagena experience. We promise to do our best to help change the bad-CartagenaInfo.

 
 
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