I loved Cartagena, but it wouldn’t be a fair assessment to describe the city without sharing some of the more disturbing things I saw there (when I wasn’t just admiring the beautiful multicolored colonial buildings):
- While the city was extremely diverse, I found it strange that the help in restaurants was usually black and the majority of diners were not. I’m certainly not a sociologist, but it made me think that racism in Cartagena must be a major problem.
- I have never seen so many police officers and soldiers in my life (and I’ve vacationed in Mexico City and Israel). Adding to their threatening presence was the fact they carried a variety of large, visibly loaded guns, in addition to assault weapons. Perhaps I shouldn’t complain because they are the reason that Cartagena is so safe, but seeing machine guns and uzis never fails to disturb me.
- In addition to the many armed police officers and soldiers, many of the upscale stores and restaurants had their own private security guards. Private security and welding (for wrought iron building protection) seem like booming industries.
- To say that the streets were uneven and in dire need of repair would be a vast understatement. I know that it is an underdeveloped country, but the sidewalks struck me as a seriously hazardous situation (if you didn’t look down, you could fall into a hole). It made me wonder what types of personal injury laws are in place and who is liable for the many accidents that must occur there.