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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 4th decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

The Caribbean Colors of Cartagena, Colombia

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

I have heard of Cartagena, Colombia for decades. But for some reason I never fully realized that this historical town is located smack dab on the Caribbean Sea.

That means lots of different things such as pirates and treasure, terrific fresh seafood, both salsa and steel drum music and the lively Caribbean colors of the painted houses.

Mix Colonial structures in with vibrant bougainvillea and vines dripping down from latticed second story balconies, and you have a vivid Cartagena!

Come take a look.

Plaza de la Aduana, Cartagena, Colombia

Plaza de la Aduana

The largest and oldest square in the Walled City of Cartagena, Plaza de la Aduana was where imported and exported goods were registered and taxed. Enslaved human beings were assessed here for their monetary value, to be sold later at the Plaza de los Coches, previously known as Esclavos Plaza.

In colonial times all the important governmental and administrative buildings were here. The old Royal Customs House has been restored and is now the current City Hall.

A statue of Christopher Columbus stands to the right, outside the photo.

Kentucky Fried Chicken building in Cartagena, Colombia

The modern with the old

Here you see a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet housed in an old Colonial style building.

One of the tenets of the UNESCO award is that an ancient destination should protect its integrity and authenticity, and not "suffer from adverse effects of development and/or neglect."





So in this case, KFC would not be able to locate here by razing this Colonial building and putting in a modern day mall-style Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. Instead, it had to fit the modern into the structure of the old.

Well done!

Tourists and locals walking the narrow streets of Cartagena, Colombia

Tourists and locals walking the narrow street

Once again, you can see the two and three story buildings with vines and flowers flowing from the balconies above.

The streets are quite narrow, and due to the popularity of Cartagena as a tourist destination, sometimes people would spill out onto the streets themselves. This was a very common site.

Electric street lights mimic the old gas lights of yore.

The legendary Hotel Santa Clara, Cartagena, Colombia

The Sofitel Legend Hotel Santa Clara

In 1621, this building was constructed as a convent and was the home of the Nuns of the Order of St. Claire. About 240 years later, the nuns were evicted from the convent to make way for a charity hospital. Later, it became a penitentiary and then a school of medicine.

This open-air walkway wrapped around a courtyard in the center of the hotel, and it was where nuns glided from room to room around the property.

In more modern times, Botero's Curvy Lady of Cartagena was placed in the gardens, but it is now located at the Plaza de Santo Domingo, near Plaza de los Coches. Still, to honor Botero, Hotel Santa Clara has named one of their suites after him.

Cafe with striped umbrellas, Cartagena, Colombia

Cafe with striped umbrellas

Across the street from Cartagena's College of Arts and Sciences and the Hotel Santa Clara, is a small plaza with this sweet little cafe with striped umbrellas.

To me it looks straight out of a small hamlet in France. Through that white door is the inside of the cafe where several small rooms are decorated in quaint village style.

Always a surprise around every corner!

Vivaciously painted buildings Cartagena, Colombia

Vivaciously painted buildings

Latin Americans and those in the Caribbean are not afraid of using color to paint their buildings.

Here you have some darker shades of lavender, Royal blue alongside brilliant butterscotch and yellow.

Lush hanging vines add to the beauty of this tropical city scene.

Can we say reddish-orange and pastel blue?

Showing no fear of color, a brilliant red-orange is placed side by side with a pastel sky blue. A creamy pale yellow enhances the next building, and tropically painted stone flower pots filled with planted palms completes "the look."

Notice how clean the streets are; no trash, no street dogs or their "signature" on the pavement.

White and turquoise building, Cartagena, Colombia

Turquoise and white corner

Here you have a reddish-orange building, next to a white and turquoise one, which is next to a white and aqua building that's next to a peach building that's next to a sky blue building...

Don'tcha just love it?

Colorful flags drape across the road from the top of buildings, Cartagena, Colombia

Colorful flags make a ceiling

Running colorful flags across a street from the rooftops or the 2nd stories of buildings is a very Latin custom. In Mexico, often these decorations are colorful plastic cut napkins called papel picados.

Flapping in the wind, they make a sound that seems to clear out your mind, and since the "ceiling" appears to be see-through, it's a mental vision of expansion.

It's both a physical and mental experience of delight.

Cambio house in Cartagena, Colombia

Cambio House

Money exchange houses are conveniently located throughout the walled city of Cartagena. You can get your foreign Dollars, Euros, Bolivares and other currencies exchanged into COPs or Colombian Pesos right here.

You can also utilize an ATM at a bank to receive COP. Each place takes a cut, and the official rate - which is always changing - is higher than what you'll receive.

When we were visiting Cartagena, we received 3,100COP to $1USD by using the exchange house.

You can check out the current exchange rate here:

XE Currency Converter

Fresh fruit for sale everywhere in Cartagena, Colombia

Fresh fruit for sale

Tropical fruit is easy to find in Cartagena.

Sweet, fresh, delicious and affordable.

Botero's Curvy Lady of Cartagena, Colombia, Santo Domingo Plaza

Botero's Curvy Lady of Cartagena, Santo Domingo Plaza

As I mentioned earlier, Botero's Curvy Lady used to be in the gardens of the Santa Clara Hotel. Now it finds its home in the Santo Domingo Plaza just around the corner from Plaza de los Coches.

People seemed to always want their photo taken next to the Curvy Lady, often with a hand on her curvy bum or elsewhere...!

We had drinks and appetizers at one of the open air restaurants behind her and we would recommend the location to watch the action.

Cartagena street, Colombia

Potted palms and dripping vines





Concrete pots line the front of houses and shops. Palms are planted and vines drip down to add such a tropical feel for this Cartagena street.

Dome of the church of San Pedro Claver in Cartagena, Colombia

Dome of the church of San Pedro Claver

Peter Claver was dedicated to serving the slaves of Cartagena. And, At 10,000 being imported yearly through this famous port of Cartagena, St. Peter Claver had his work cut out for him.

Because of his personal vow, St. Peter worked for the Africans in every way for 40 years. He is the patron saint of Cartagena.

Colombiana Lovelies in Cartagena, Colombia

Beauties in Cartagena

Walking around the streets of Cartagena, we came upon these lovely ladies in front of the Theater. Some special art and theater occasion was being promoted, and the young woman, second on the left, was quite the sales woman.

Energetic, quick-minded and fun, she chatted us up for the event.

When Billy asked to take their photos, this engaging lady stood on her tip-toes so she wouldn't appear so short next to her friends!

For more information on Colombia, with photos, stories and videos, click here

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on

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