And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the second part of our South America trip in Cartagena de Indias more commonly known as ‘Cartagena’ Colombia. When most of us hear Colombia, we immediately think about “Narcos”. And while that show is one of the best series that Netflix has ever produced, we knew that the show was not at all an accurate representation of the current state of Colombia. Still, we made sure to do our research before we went. But we found out it was that Cartegena is very safe and makes for a great stop during your trip across South America. There are no special visas required for either Peru or Columbia and although it helps to speak espanol, many of the local people speak English.
Once again we took Avianca Airlines into Columbia. Now I don’t know if this is normal for flying into Columbia from Peru or if this was just a rare occurrence, but our flight was turbulent. I’m pretty sure the entire plane was making their peace with God at a certain point. Thankfully we made it to our first stop in Cali. We had a quick layover where we enjoyed a hamburger made with actual ham. They also provided a pre-mixed mayonnaise and ketchup condiment usually in the States you have to make that by yourself. We appreciate that touch.
The very first thing we noticed was how HOT it was. When we left Peru it was 36 degrees. We were wearing coats, but just a few hours later we were in 90-degree weather. Our next goal was to find a cab. And to answer your question, yes Uber works down here. Our Uber driver showed up in a completely tinted out Honda Civic with a ridiculous spoiler, Tokyo Drift style. At that moment we looked at each other and questioned whether or not we should enter this car. We’ve heard some horror stories about taxis and even Uber’s so so we were jokingly a little weary. Nevertheless, we are men. So without question, we got in that car wondering if we would ever see the states again. Needless to say, our Uber driver was awesome and gave our Spanish-speaking friend some tips about where to the best food was, the tourist locations, and even some unsolicited tips on picking the right hooker… I swear it was unsolicited. Having been in South America for several days now, driving through another city was no big deal. I mean seriously, at this point we felt like locals. I was even speaking some Spanish via osmosis. I guess that if I had stayed or a good month or so, I’d be fluent in the language.
Anyway, after the two flights from Peru, we were pretty exhausted so when we got to our hotel within the walled city. (Hotel Casa de la Trinidad) Note: Make sure that when you do travel to Cartegena you stay in the walled city. We did wander out by mistake, nothing happened, but you want to stay within the confines. It’s just safer. We crashed for a few hours and by the time we got up, it was night time in Cartegena so we began to explore the city. When you are within the walled City you can’t go wrong. Our hotel room was right next to several restaurants and Nightclubs in the “Old Town” and we felt safe in every spot. We passed by a spot called Restaurante Coroncoro and decided to have some food before we drank. The carne asada hit and become our dish of choice for the remainder of the trip. Once we had eaten we decided to walk avoid for a bit and get a feel for the vibe. The streets were packed with tourists and locals. Salsa music was blasting through seemingly every doorway. It seemed like everyone in the city was partying. The very first spot we hit was a small bar called the “Tipsy deer”. We grabbed a few ‘cervezas’ and had a nice conversation with the 2 bartenders there. If you ever find your way to the tipsy deer, tell them that we sent you. We also noticed a club across the street called Cafe Havana. We heard the live music playing while we passed by and asked about the cover which was 30k Columbian with is about $10. We decided that we would come back on a different night since the band was already in full swing and we didn’t want to miss any of the show.
So we continued our night and headed towards ‘Plaza de los Coches’. Fair warning, if you come here at night time you will be surrounded by escorts and savages trying to broker deals. Seriously it was like wall street up in there. Needless to say, we don’t pay for it. Sex is better free(ish) yall know what I mean? So we continued. I’m kind of angry at myself for not taking more pictures of the nightlife but we didn’t want to stick even further out. Pulling out my phone while the block is lit just never occurred to me. The streets taught us better than that. But the streets were really packed and so were the clubs. There were lines to get into a few of them and in everyone, the music was hittin’ and the drinks were cheap (by our standards) The dollar is strong yall. Thanks, Trump! One of the clubs that stuck out was Alquimico Bar. If there is one thing regarding the nightlife in Cartegena you need to trust me on, its this place. The drink menu was large and the staff was awesome and skilled. There are 3 levels in the bar. The ground and 2nd level play a combination of hip hop and dance music, while the top-level rooftop plays a mix of Spanish, Brazilian, and even African music. It was easy mingling with the people out there. Everyone was easy going, and positive. You could sense the love out there for real. Just be sure to ask any girl you hit on if she’s an escort before you fall for her. Learn from our mistakes. We hopped around several different bars the first night. Some had covers but the bouncers were nice enough to let 1 person in your crew check the place out before you paid to see if it was packed enough for your liking. We got back to our hotel that night feeling pretty excited about the rest of the trip.
The next day in Objectively Black fashion, we decided to have a workout and walk around Cartagena. The city is beautiful. The streets are lined with colorful colonial-style buildings. There are beautiful murals painted all across the city and plenty of historic statues and squares to visit. The markets are worth walking through as well. Even for those of you who hate shopping like me, you’ll want to pick up some souvenirs. The markets offer some authentic handmade crafts. One of the many spots we explored was Castillo San Felipe de Barajas / Fortress of San Felipe. Now did we mention the heat? The day we decided to summit this fortress it was well into the 90s and humid as all fuck. Still, we climbed. Our short trip to Peru may have come in handy, because next to the climbing that we did in Peru, climbing this castle was nothing. Next, we hit La Paletteria a Popsicle dessert shop in the middle of the old town. There are several different flavors divided by ‘base’ yogurt, water or cream. On a hot day of walking, one of these really hits the spot.
By chance, we were in Columbia during Copa America and we were able to catch the Columbia game against Argentina. We watched the game at Mister Babilla, a night club that was showing the game on several projectors in the venue. As you would expect the atmosphere inside was crazy. Futbol is bigger than religion out there so we were very lucky to be in Columbia during this even. This ranked up there with the most authentic experiences we had in the city. We just got lucky, but if you can, try planning your trip around a similar event to experience futbol in South America.
One of the most important things for us to do what to see an authentic live salsa band in Columbia. And to do that we went right back to Cafe Havana. If you remember we stopped by earlier in our trip but decided that it would be best to arrive early one night. And we were right. We arrived at Cafe Havana around 10 pm. By that point, most of the tables had already been taken. Luckily we found a table right next to the stage which was also close to the bar. The band played for about an hour and needless to say they were amazing. The entire place was lit. And this was my favorite part of the trip. It wasn’t even close.
South America has a million different things to offer. If you have the opportunity I will suggest taking way more than just two weeks to travel the continent. But if you do just have a few days to travel you could do much worse than Peru and Colombia. Both offer vastly different experiences yet they’re only hours apart. Listen, Objectively Black is traveling a lot this year. If you want to stay up-to-date on what we’re doing and get a good idea of what these different places have to offer, keep following. And also let us know what you think. Where do you want us to travel to next?