Cartagena, do I need to be able speak Spanish

Old Nov 29th, 2010, 08:56 AM
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Cartagena, do I need to be able speak Spanish

My husband and I have the opportunity to stay in a condo on BocaGrande Beach, but neither of us speak Spanish. Will we be able to manage getting to and from town, negotiating taxis, grocery stores, restaurants, tourist sites? Would love to go, but not sure how English Speaking friendly it is...thanks!
seagulls is offline  
Old Nov 30th, 2010, 12:08 AM
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I can't comment on Columbia as I haven't been there but we did spend 5 months in South America in 2008. Neither of us had spoken Spanish before but we had 2 weeks of lessons at a language school on arrival in peru and were very glad we did as it it enhanced our trip no end, enabling us to interact with the locals in a way that would not have been possible with English and gesturing alone. Would we have survived without learning Spanish? Of course but if taking lessons is not an option then buy a good phrase book we used ollins Latin American Spanish which come with a cd and is really easy to follow.

Fodors also have a guide on this website which has most of the phrases you will need and has a pdf you can print off and take with you (top right of this page)

In Japan, where NO ONE appears to speak english we used something similar to point out phrases to the person we were trying to communicate with and it worked just fine. Used a few phrases and the locals will really appreciate your efforts.
At least learn the essential phrases e.g. Dos cerveza por favor!!
crellston is offline  
Old Nov 30th, 2010, 05:10 AM
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Lots of English Speakers no worries

Bring a pocket phrase book

it is respectful to try to speak it..

But you will have no major problems

in tourist areas like Boca Grande. great resource if time.

Have fun,
qwovadis is offline  
Old Nov 30th, 2010, 09:57 AM
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I carried a pocket size translator - around $35 from best buy type stores and was able to do everything I needed. You may find very helpful locals who can help you book tours etc. (or the condo caretakers.) Do not forget to take a day trip to a private island like Isla de Sol or Isla de Encanto (not expensive - there are people selling these trips everywhere.) Also must see the Old town (I loved the bus tour of the old town - worth it in my opinion and you can leave the bus when you have had enough.) Have Fun
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Old Nov 30th, 2010, 10:58 AM
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There aren't as many English speakers as you would expect in such a popular tourist destination, and I found signage at most of the tourist attractions to be in Spanish only. You can manage just fine without Spanish but don't expect most people on the street to be able to answer you in English. You might need to do some gesturing and maybe writing down on a notepad what you're looking for. A phrasebook is a good idea too.
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