Last Stops in South America: Cartagena and Santa Marta Columbia

The latest adventure is heading toward the closing chapter. After spending the last 2 days touring in Columbia, we will be heading out for Aruba, St. Bart’s and then Fort Lauderdale, where we will disembark. For some reason or other the cruise lines refer to this as “debarking” the ship rather than disembarking, but I refuse to go along with this construction.

Cartagena seen from the Sea

While in Columbia we explored Cartagene on one day and then Santa Marta the next. They are both beautiful and very clean cities—at least the sections we visited—which included the old historical parts of these cities. And they are old—founded as they were in the 16th century, later gaining their independence from Spain during the 19th century under the leadership of Simon Bolivar, whose statues are everywhere. Makes George Washington look like a piker in the statue department. Around the same time (with leadership from Bolivar and General San Martin) Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Venezuela won their independence.

 

Speaking of Venezuela, the story doesn’t change much. Venezuelans have flooded into Columbia because food, medicines and other necessities are in short supply thanks to the wonders of Socialism.  20 years ago, Venezuela was the richest nation in South America. Now it’s a basket case. You can see Venezuelans on the streets in Columbia (and Ecuador) selling water and trinkets trying to get by.

 

Columbia has made great strides over the years, largely defeating the drug cartels and the FARC and other radical groups. There is still plenty of work to do, but Cartagena and Santa Marta are mostly safe, and economic growth has resumed. Medellin—past center of the drug trade and home to Pablo Escobar—saw its murder rate drop to its lowest level in 40 years although it is still high at 20.17 per 100,000.  By comparison, the homicide rate in Chicago jumped to 18.6 per 100,000 by the end of 2015. New York City had a homicide rate under half that at 7 per 100,000.

 

Anyway, Columbia is a fascinating place with lots to see. Some photos are below.

 

JFB

Santa Marta Side Street
Cartagena Dancers
Public Square in Cartagena
At the Beach in Santa Marta

 

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