MORCHILAS Brightly coloured or neutral toned natural fibre handwoven bags with striking geometric patterns. They hail from indigenous artisans from La Guajira and near Santa Marta. Prices vary depending on quality... but they aren't cheap! They hover around the $50 mark. Buy from the street or get fancy versions in boutiques like "M" on Calle Colegio in Centro.
BIKINI As Colombia's and much of Latin America's beach-side playground, Cartagena is also home to some of the most innovative and beautiful beachwear designs. I think one of the brightly patterned, sometimes bejewelled bikinis would make an awesome souvenir. Or for the men, the tropical kitschy bermuda shorts are completely rad. Go to Ondade Mar in Centro, Nicole Layolle Boutique in San Diego, Hookipa in Bocagrande or Laguna Rose in Mall Plaza for a dazzling selection of all the top brands.
HATS Panama hats in every colour under the rainbow, the traditional black and white weave of the Vueltiao hat or one of Planeta Champeta's urban cool gorras.. you are challenged to stop at just one!
ANTIQUES By now you're sure to have noticed all the incredible doorknockers adorning the historic houses here. Why not buy one of your own? El Arcon Anticuario sells replica doorknockers together with other amazing artefacts. Or in Getsemani, check out the awesome Maritime Artefacts and Collectable store on Calle Larga (near the Puente Roman).
ART Art Cartagena is a tiny gallery choc-a-bloc full with incredible works from Cartagena artists. Make an appointment (send me an email and I'll pass on Norma's number) to peruse the ever-changing offering and you're sure to fall in love with at least one piece. Alternatively, I can also put you directly in touch with some of my most favourite artists and photographers here for a unique souvenir that will appreciate (and be appreciated) forever.
EMERALDS Colombia is responsible (according to Wikipedia) for 70-90% of the world's emeralds. The mines are mostly located outside of Bogota in Boyaco.. but the stores and workshops in Cartagena are the most famous retailers. Gem traders come to wield deals on the sparkly shiny stones with their haul valued at considerably higher prices in the US and European markets. So potentially you can pick up a bargain.. Mostly though I just think they are super pretty. Check out Lucy Jewelry, Elia Jewelery and the amazing designs of Paula Mendoza.
CIGARS I know less than nothing about the Cuban cigars sold here, except that the ones on the street are usually fake and you should probably go to a reputable place like Casa de Habana to purchase with confidence. Whilst there, order a mojito.. they're the best in the city!
MUSIC Remember dancing your nights away by purchasing some of the musical mixes from Cartagena - salsa, champeta, cumbia, porro, meringue, reggaeton. There's dozens of street vendors who can't wait to load you up with ripped versions of all the classics.
LINEN Nothing says vay-cay like linen. Holidaying Colombians take great delight in wearing a wardrobe strictly comprised of white linen when they come to Cartagena. Blend in and stock up on this luxe staple. Special occasions and weddings call for a Guayabera; a tailored-button-up shirt.
More? I kept to 10 but there's also a bunch of beautiful artisan-type goodies available around town that deserves a mention.. like the brilliantly bright designs of Alvipop, who takes the stereotypical tourist souvenirs of the palenque fruit woman and the statue of catalina and then paints them in fluroscent make-you-happy colours. Also, you definitely should visit the treasure chest of crafty/arty designs that is Mico al Hombre. The store is found at the entrance to Ciudad Movil in Calle Espiritu Santo in Getsemani. It includes cool jewellery and clothing and art (including the addictively adorable designs of LIKME), flavoured with a young and funky vibe.