ARRIVING BY CRUISE SHIP-TIPS ON HAVING FUN
Discover the truth about
personal safety in Cartagena
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.
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. .
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.
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.
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!
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?"
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.
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
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
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
REMEMBER THIS ABOUT ALL HUSTLERS, AND BEGGARS:
NOT PAY THEM ANY ATTENTION! Do not even look at them. Do
not talk to them. Continue what you are doing…..PLEASE FOLLOW
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
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
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!
caring, and visiting our city.
forget to: "Bookmark" or put this website in your "Favorites".
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.