Clay and I visited Dan in Cartagena, Rodadero and Santa Marta in June 2008. After visiting in the city of Cartagena for a few days, we traveled a half-day by bus to Rodadero to enjoy the beaches and the nightlight of Santa Marta. The country is far safer than you might initially think. Though, the smells and people in the cities quickly remind you it is a third-world country and you should always be vigilant. Everyone is very friendly, fun, and the nightlight in Santa Marta (where gringos often visit to use cocaine) is outrageous.

Cartagena is horribly hot and humid. It barely cools down at night and the air seems to always be still. We hiked up to the Castillo and sat in the shade just to enjoy the slight breeze from the ocean.

Santa Marta was somewhat questionable at night. Dancing, drinking, and drug use are all fairly prevalent. Though, security is constantly roaming. We had been stopped once (without identification) and luckily had a half-dozen female friends to calmly tell the officers that we were of no importance to them.

Overall, I’d recommend visiting Colombia. If you’re clearly a tourist (white) then I don’t recommend visiting any of the high-traffic beaches. The amount of haggling and quantity of people trying to sell you things hardly lead to relaxation.