A few years ago, I ignored the travel advisories from the US government and relatives back in Ohio and took an adventure vacation to Colombia. Traveling with friends and family, our trip included a stays in Bogota, Cartagena, Playa Blanca, and Bucaramunga.
Our days in sunny, historic Cartagena--the seaside hometown of author Gabriel Garcia Marquez-- were the most memorable. We stayed in the old town area of Cartagena-- not touristy Boca Grande, where American high-rise hotels line the beach. In our sightseeing around Cartagena, we saw gorgeous Spanish colonial churches, quaint restaurants, exciting dance clubs, beautiful sandy beaches, and street markets full of people, produce, fish, flowers, and any other retail product you could want.
Another fascinating street-based commercial activity that we witnessed in Caragena was the entertainment of US servicemen. Our second-sotry hotel looked down on a somewhat seedy nightclub (at left) which had a pulsing dance beat and a steady stream of Colombian women and US sailors coming and going. As we drank Chilean wine from a box, we watched the show from our balcony. Some of the women would sit outside with the doorman, while others waited inside. Groups of 5-6 US servicemen in street clothes would arrive with a Colombia guide, talk with the doorman, and then disappear into the club. Conveniently located near by was a cash machine. How do we know these white guys with crew cuts were American sailors? We saw the battleship in the harbor (below).
This week's news includes a brouhaha about a group of American military men and Secret Servicemen enjoying the hospitality of Colombian women in Cartagena.
Except for the fact that these guys were supposed to be the advance team for President Obama... what else is new? Is this the first time men working for the US government have enjoyed the services of hookers in other countries-- or in this country?
The current flap reminds me of a story from one of our more colorful Cartagena cab drivers. He said with a wink and a smile that when President Clinton came to Boca Grande, he got everything he wanted-- "Boca Grande and boca chica."