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The Coolest District In Colombia

November 2017Words by Mr Rob Crossan

Cartagena, Colombia. Photograph by Ms Jodee Debes

You know the tide is turning in Colombia when the hottest topic of conversation is rent prices instead of narcotics. But such is the focus for an average evening in Plaza de la Trinidad in the Getsemaní district of Cartagena, a colonial city on the north coast of the country. When night falls in the plaza, street vendors sell gargantuan arepas (a type of empanada) and corner shops with beer pumps pour out glasses of ice-cold Aguila for barely 75p.

Yet beer and snacks aside, living costs are soaring in Getsemaní, a once defiantly working-class neighbourhood that was left to rot in the narco-war years of the 1970s and 1980s when those who could afford to do so moved to the Miami-esque beach-side new town of Bocagrande.

Now revived with a cascade of shops, barsrestaurants and galleries, there is still a certain romantic languor to Getsemaní that doesn’t exist in other parts of the Old Town, most of which is teeming with persistent touts and chain coffee shops geared towards cruise ship passengers. Getsemaní life is evolving in a more organic and community focused way than elsewhere in Cartagena and, in our opinion, is fast becoming one of the coolest neighbourhoods in South America. Here’s why.