All those misinformed people, who still consider Columbia a scary and dangerous place to be or travel, would find their image justified in the town of Barranquilla. We arrived at midnight and the taxi to our hotel took us through kilometers and kilometers of deserted, spooky areas. Only a few ghostly figures were going through the garbage or sleeping on the concrete. Hotel Colonial Inn, though a bit faded, proved a safe heaven in this abyss, quiet, a modern aircon and we even had a fridge to cool down our water bottles.
The trip to the bus terminal the following morning offered a bit of a brighter look of the rundown city, but it still appeared “muy triste”. The cab driver told us the streets are regularly flooded after heavy downpours, because the water has nowhere to go, since the city is built on lower grounds than the river bed of the Rio Magdalena. These floods carry lots of garbage along, so after the water recedes the trash is left on display. A sad El Dorado for people so poor that digging through the trash is all there is. To be fair there is a new center of Barranquilla we did not see, El Prado, which is supposedly nicer.
Barranquilla is also the place, where the now mighty Rio Magdalena, after crossing almost the entire country south to north, spills out into the sea.