Most Americans, when they hear Colombia, immediately envision either a sleepy South Carolina town (Columbia, SC) or a country riddled with cocaine and cartel violence. Let me be the first to tell you, Colombia has shed it’s violent past and is emerging in the 21st century as a vacation hotspot, offering enticing beaches, breathtaking architecture, and delicious cuisine. My time in Colombia, although shortened and chaotic, was nothing short of mesmerizing. For my African American readers, you will find that it is easy to feel at home even with a language barrier.
Being forced (due to missed flights) to vacation only in Cartagena
(rather than Medellín & Cartagena as planned) has left me with a hunger for more. Cartagena, also know as Cartagena de Indias, is a major seaport located on the northern coast of Colombia that was founded in 1533. Many of the original structures, including a massive stone wall that encompasses the old city still remain today. From atop the wall, you can gaze upon the juxtaposition of the modern Bocagrande, dotting the skyline with skyscrapers, and the Colonial El Centro. Venturing away from the walled city you will find Castillo San Felipe de Barajas and Convento de la Popa. Both are magnificent historical structures.
After you’ve had your feel of colonial history, hop on a speedboat and head over to the white sandy beach of Playa Blanca. I wasn’t kidding when I said Cartagena has a ton of things to offer. At this beach, you will, of course, find tons of day trippers lounging on the beach but stay after 4 and you’ll be blessed with miles of beautiful tropical beaches all to yourself.
Of course throughout your day, you won’t be hard pressed for a good meal. Had to the local area of Getsemani where you will find cheap delicious authentic Colombia food and spectacular street art.
With so much to do and see in the city, there’s no way I could highlight…. I couldn’t even see them all! Hopefully, these photos inspire you to hop on the first plane to Cartagena
Honorable Mention: While I did not have the time to visit, San Basilio de Palenque is a must see. It was the first settlement for free African slaves. I will not return to Colombia without taking a cultural tour here.