“We should go to go to Playa Blanca”, Diego tells me.
He has been in Cartagena for a couple of days already, to learn about the city from his local friend. Playa Blanca is the most beautiful beach in Cartagena with “white sand and clear water you can see to the bottom of”.
It’s our last day in Cartagena, and, it’s Diego’s birthday week, and I will take any excuse to go to a beach, so we are going. Our new friend Jorge, who we have been hanging out with this week, wants to go to. Through the hostel, we can book a boat tour to the beach; an hour boat ride each way, includes lunch, and we get to spend the whole afternoon on the beach, all for 50.000COP (about $30) each. But a few fellow hostel-mates have said that we can book the Play Blanca boat cheaper if we do it ourselves at the marina, which is only a 10 minute walk from the hostel. So that’s exactly what we, our cheap-ass selves, decided to do.
After procrastinating for the whole afternoon, we finally head down to the marina around sunset speed-walk down to the marina because we suddenly realize that it is getting late and they might close smartly decide that a sunset walk would make for great photographs during our trip to the marina and back.
After a few quite necessary ridiculously silly and tourist photos of a posh pirate ship-bar-club, and the evening’s long light hitting the water, we finally decide we should probably hurry up and buy our tickets, but before we barely hit the edge of the actual marina we are approached by some guy saying he can sell us tickets cheap, $35.000COP each.
“Let’s just buy them at the marina.”, I say. I don’t trust this guy, and am protesting up a storm. “Why are you even talking to him?”. “There is no way in hell I am giving this guy any money!”
Diego and Jorge are trying to shush me, but since I have the money (well, Diego’s and my money), they have to listen. They talk with the guy, while I’m protesting and trying to figure out what everyone is discussing (in Spanish of course), and eventually Diego and Jorge tell me this guy sells real tickets.
“Yea right. I don’t care what you say. I am not handing over any money! He wants to sell us tickets, he can walk down to the gate so we can make sure these tickets are legit!”
I refuse to budge. I am not just handing over my money to some tout claiming he has the real goods, like some noob traveler.
“This is legit”, Jorge and Diego keep telling me, but I don’t believe them. It is obvious I am not giving anyone any money until I’m convinced we aren’t about to get scammed, so the tout hands Diego the 3 tickets, and says he will walk with us down to the marina gate to calm the girl who’s being ridiculous so we can check out the validity of these tickets for ourselves.
There’s a security guard at the marina entrance who Diego shows the tickets to. I wait expecting to hear “No” or “I don’t know”, or “Go Away” but instead, the security guard, semi-exasperated and annoyed, tells us “Yes these are good”.
Ok, so they are real tickets. I realize I may have been a little over, um, ‘witchy’ about the whole ordeal, but I am not apologizing for it. The tout is still a stranger, and I’m still a bit apprehensive handing over so much money to this guy for handwritten pieces of paper tickets. That is until he tells us we only have to pay the tout 5.000COP ($2.50) each.
What? That’s it? The rest is due tomorrow when we arrive? Why didn’t you say so!?! Hell, if this is a scam, I only loose less than $3? I’m cool with that! Let’s do this!
We pay the tout $9.000 total, and I throw the tickets in my purse thingy. As we start walking away, Jorge stops suddenly, and runs back to the tout like something just went wrong.
“Is lunch included in the tour we bought?”, Jorge asks the tout.
“Yes”, replies the tout to Jorge’s relief. Nothing like last minute, after ticket buying, fact checking.
Of course, I have now gotten so distracted with not getting scammed, I forgot to ask what all the mention of Isla de Rosario, some stupid little island that is not Playa Blanca, was all about….