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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Barrio Called Getsemani


Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Let me tell you about this small neighborhood or barrio in Cartagena. This charming, yet not without character, place called Getsemani. A previously notorious barrio known for illegal drugs and prostitution. Now it’s one of the most visited area outside the Old Town.


Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

When you google Cartagena, you would probably see all these photos of 2-storey beautiful colonial houses and a church in the background, or the Old Town. At least that’s what it was for me.

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

I’m glad I discovered One Day Hostel in hostelworld (highly recommend it) and read about a small area just a few minutes walk from the Old Town. The reviews described Getsemani as a good place to get based, away from the much more touristy Old Town. It’s cheaper and safe.


Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

My taxi ride from the airport went around the outskirts of the area so I didn’t get to see much of the houses. But as soon as we entered one of its narrow streets to get to my hostel, I was already charmed. Colorful houses, bougainvilleas, street art. And yup, I’m a sucker for all these things.

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Check-in was not until mid-afternoon so I had some time to kill. The wonderful staff at the hostel gave me a map. I immediately asked her for a good Colombian restaurant with rice (of course). And I was on my way.

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

While I was walking, I had that “fuck, it’s so pretty here” face. Small colorful houses, hostels, rundown restaurants and street art in almost all corners. But the thing with Getsemani, especially after discovering how posh the Old Town is, is that it has character.


Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

In this barrio, you will still see people who live here out in the streets talking to each other. Men and women gossiping, laughing loudly (felt right at home). Men tucked in a corner playing board games, drinking beer. Fruit carts shouting ‘aguacate!!!’ and other colorful fruits like mango, watermelon, papaya, orange. Juice/punch stands, empanadas, arepas (!).

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

And then there’s Plaza de Santísima Trinidad, where people (locals and travelers alike) sit on the steps of the church, around the plaza, and the cafes/restaurants around it. I sat here with a new friend in the early afternoon, enjoying the breeze. At night, it gets more alive. Street food carts, people playing, dancing, and just people having dinner and hanging out.

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

And of course the street art. I believe it was in December 2013, that it hosted an urban art festival and invited street artists to paint its walls. You see street art expressing Getsemani as a barrio, its people and its roots. You can watch this video “Getsemaní, el último barrio / Getsemaní, The Last Neighborhood” to know more about it. There are still local residents living here, but how many people have been forced to sell or displaced because of its transformation, I don’t know. I hope it still proves to be sustainable for the people who live here.

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani / Cartagena, Colombia

My recommendations:
One Day Hostel – a couple of blocks away from the main streets so it’s a lot more quiet.
Restaurante El Coroncoro – where the local residents dine, share tables, and discuss everything, try the cazuela de mariscos (seafood casserole with rice and platacons)
Restaurante Bar Vive - another restaurant famous to local residents
Café del Mural – didn’t try the coffee roasting lessons (out of budget) but the coffee is really good here. For less than USD3, you can get a good cup of strong coffee (personally liked the hand-made Night blend)
Sit on the steps in the plaza and enjoy the breeze after lunch


And just wander, wander around the barrio.