Cartagena de Indias (Cartagena of the Indies) is the most visited place in Colombia, so I am told. I believe that.
After a few days of wandering around the city, I have been overwhelmed by the billions of vendors hawking all kinds of merchandise to tourists.
I take exception to these hucksters who like to shout at you, "Hey Amigo". First of all, if you have to call me "amigo", then I'm pretty sure I'm NOT your amigo.
Let me save you some time: When I'm at the beach (or having a drink with somebody in the plaza at an outdoor cafe) I am NOT interested in crappy jewelery, a massage, a trip to the Rosario Islands, portraits, a riding lawnmower, or anything else.
And when I say "NO" ... RESPECT THAT! Do NOT continue to pursue me. If you harass me too much, you will regret it. That's not a threat -- it's a promise.
Oh, and no, I'm not dumb enough to exchange money from you, the shady looking guy in a dirty golf shirt and ugly sunglasses. Yeah, so you're offering me a better exchange rate than the bank because what ... you're just a good guy?
How hospitable of you.
Of course, I don't want it to sound like I have a negative opinion of Cartagena. On the contrary.
I find it to be a fascinating city. If you're at all interested in history, it's a great place. It's one of the oldest cities in the Americas. And how many cities were fortified to protect against attacks from pirates, the French, the British, and the Dutch?
They have done a good job at preserving the historic old walled city. I love wandering aimlessly inside the walls, watching people, checking out the various shops, cafes, street entertainers, and whatever else strikes me as interesting.
The city is not just a Latin American city; it's also distinctly Caribbean in nature. Various cultures blend together here -- Spanish, African, creole, and the indigenous groups of the region. Together, you get something that is unique and will have an appeal to many a visitor from around the world.