Little bit rougher crowd here in Cartagena for sure. More harassment to buy stuff than I´m accustomed to. And the beggars here tend to be middle aged, healthy looking men that ask for money in a more intimidating rather than begging manner. In Peru the beggars tended to beg...and were young women with babies, elderly, cripples, etc. I asked the cab driver upon arrival if it were possible to change m0ney on the street for a better exchange rate than at the bank. He simply told me...¨ If I were you I would keep my eye on my money....¨ I didn´t probe him any further after that but we were stopped yesterday by two Americans from California who´d been swindled out of $90 trying to change money with these scammers. I guess they pulled a little distraction scheme and 210,000 pesos turned into 21,000. Initially, you´re surprised two intelligent looking individuals would let that happen, but these thieves down here are good at what they do. Oh well, they were from California...they can afford it.
Old town Cartagena is beautiful though. The town is nearly 500 years old. All kinds of history here. The colorful old buildings, fountain-filled plazas, and tight little streets are a sight to see. There´s an old stone and concrete wall surrounding the city that took the Spanish 200 years to build. Apparently, the got sick of pirates, especially English ones, coming around to sack the city and steal the gold the Spanish were transiting through here after they plundered it down in Peru. There´s a beautiful outdoor bar built on top of the old wall...the owners gave it the exceedingly distinguished name of...La Casa de Cerveza...The Beer House.
The beach is ok. It does have the distinction for me of being the first beach from which I entered the Caribbean...though filled with people pestering you to buy stuff you don´t want. Much like the rest of the city. Funny, when you actually need someone to get you something, like in a restaurant or bar, the person never seems to be there.