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Visiting Columbia

Fruit vendors known as palenqueras showing their products on a street in downtown Cartageña, Colombia. Photo: Tony Vindell/LFN

by Tony Vindell/LFN

Visiting Colombia is quite an experience this day and age.

For one thing, this South American nation has garnered a reputation as being one of the most dangerous places on planet Earth due to its drug cartels, coca production and its revolutionary groups.

And more so now that the neighboring country of Venezuela is going through an internal struggle.

A large segment of the Venezuelan population is trying to oust a dictatorship regime under President Nicolas Maduro.

But once in the country, Colombians and tourists go about their routine working, hanging out on the streets, beaches and visiting the attractions Cartageña has to offer.

As the country’s fifth largest place with a population of about 1.4 million, this port city on the Caribbean Sea was founded in 1533.

Cartageña is full of history, has plenty of colonial buildings and many of its houses in the downtown district have more balconies and hanging plants such as bougainvillas than the eyes can see.

Seafood is abundant and many restaurants serve snook at their main fish item.

Part of the city is surrounded by a wall built to fight pirates as the city was the main venue for exporting Peruvian silver to Spain.

Its fortress was designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Referred to as Cartageña de Indias, the Cartageña population inside is made up mostly of mestizos, whites, mulatos and Amerindians.

Tourism is one of Cartage’s third largest industries after maritime and petrochemicals.

The turmoil Venezuela has been having for nearly a decade has made the Colombian people somewhat leery.

Taxi drivers are warning tourists to be on the alert at nighttime due to the presence of thousands of Venezuelans who are arriving in Colombia as they flee their country.

That, however, has not deterred the thousands of tourists following an old song called, “Yo me voy a Cartageña” (I am going to Cartageña).

After all, Colombia is the home of ballenato and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature .

A panoramic snap of Cartageña, Colombia, shows this port city’s booming construction activity. Photo: Tony Vindell/LFN

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